Field School is the new solo project of Charles Bert, who made his mark in Math and Physics Club, the Seattle indie pop combo that set the bar for sugar rush melodies and chiming guitar perfection. After three Eps made available on Bandcamp, Field School’s debut LP When Summer Comes will be out on November 18th on Bobo Integral and Small Craft Advisory. When Summer Comes is a self-made tableau of vivid guitars, eclair-rich vocals, and proactive wondering. It is a treasury of reflections on happiness and loss, and how, like seasons, they pass and return.
What Charles says: “I liked the name Field School because that’s where you go to try stuff out in practical application. I didn’t intend to start a solo project, but the pandemic forced all of us to rethink plans. Playing solo is totally new to me. I had never played drums, made up guitar riffs, mixed my own recordings, played a show by myself…so this is my field school, so to speak. I try not to worry about whether I’m actually good at any of those things or get caught up in ‘the right way’ to do this or that. I wish I had that perspective when I was 20, but better late than never.“
His mixtape: “The first three songs are like cornerstones for Field School. I don’t claim to sound like any of them, per se, but they’ve all influenced me a lot in both form and essence. The next three songs are new to me in the past year or so, and they keep me excited about the current state of music and inspire me to go write more songs. The last song is just because I couldn’t help myself.“
Beat Happening – Indian Summer
I hesitated to choose arguably Beat Happening’s most iconic song when there are so many others I could have picked, but in terms of influence – musically, lyrically, and aesthetically – this is the one. It’s a roadmap to my heart. And the video is literally a collage of images from my childhood.
Billy Bragg – The Milkman of Human Kindness
I played this over and over during the pandemic. It both warms and breaks my heart, simultaneously. The spareness of the arrangement is so powerful, and the sound of the reverb has had me chasing that sound ever since.
Jens Lekman – Black Cab
Another iconic song. Aside from the obvious brilliant lyrics and melodies, what really captivates me is the sound of the recording. It feels amazing. Maybe he labored over it, I don’t know, but it feels immediate, like he was capturing inspiration on the fly. Often those recordings get called “demos” and re-recorded later, but I think they have magic. I think about this recording a lot to remind myself that feel is more important than precision.
The Reds, Pinks, and Purples – Forgotten Names
I could throw a dart at a list of RPPs songs and it would be a great choice. This happens to be the first one I ever heard and it’s still my favorite – maybe just because of that reason. I saw them live recently and it was even better.
The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness – Close the Doors
I love this song so much. It’s also the first song I heard by this band. It checks all my boxes, twice.
Quivers – You’re Not Always on My Mind
“You’re not always on my mind…just mostly all the time.” It’s a killer lyric, but it’s the space they’ve given the music and those words that really pulls my heartstrings. It’s so beautifully done.
The Pastels – Different Drum
Bonus track! I was checking out the mixtape that Ben from The Lodger created and he included a version of Different Drum, which made it impossible for me to listen to any other song for hours. This one is my favorite version. It was on a Pastels mixtape my friend Liz gave me years ago and I wore it out during the pandemic.