Mittenfields, The Fresh Sum EP
There’s a great, great looseness to The Fresh Sum, the debut EP from Washington, DC band Mittenfields; it’s the kind of laidback, everybody-does-their-thing kind of feel that I hear far, far too infrequently these days. Hell, since the late ’90s, in fact.
It’s the sound epitomized by indie-rock bands like Superchunk or Archers of Loaf, where the rhythm section rumbles along, holding things down, while the guitars — three of ‘em, in this case — all squall and wrestle over the top, exploding in bursts of feedback and static and just flat-out noise but still somehow holds tight to a melody line (or lines) as things roll along.
And to their credit, Mittenfields pull it off, and well. I love those overfuzzed, hazy guitars, which slide between shoegazery dreampop and amps-on-fire Hüsker Dü roar with nonchalant ease; I love the staggering, stuttering drums that sound like they’re almost about to fall apart but never quite do; I love bassist/singer Dave Mann’s droney, melodic basslines; and I love Mann’s rough-edged, half-howled vocals.
There’s a fair resemblance to Superchunk here, definitely, but there’s also some Pacific Northwestern post-grunge rawness (think Treepeople), a heavy dose of head-nodding shoegaze, and a cool, cool hint of Harvey Danger or the wholly-underappreciated Possum Dixon in that strained, frenzied voice of Mann’s.
I’m having a hard time picking a high point out of the five tracks here, although the “thick”-sounding intro bit and skypunching chorus very nearly puts “Goliath FTW” on a level up above the rest. But hey, that almost feels like unfair favoritism; I’d much rather just put The Fresh Sum on and let it run the whole through, then do it again, and again. Hell, yes.