You won't hear any cymbal crashes, rumbling drum fills or guitar riffs on Fields of Industry's latest CD, Two Dogs, A Television. Though a number of tracks take cues from rock (the group often sounds like The Velvet Underground), it's an almost heartbreakingly spare album, steeped as much in folk and country as in shoegaze and psychedelia. Even on the more charged songs like "I'm Not Afraid of a Fight" and "Toybox," the only percussion heard is a gently rapped tambourine. But Two Dogs, A Television isn't stark. The sophomore full-length for this Michigan-based band manages to sound spacious and richly produced.
Fields of Industry began as a solo project in 1999 for frontman and multi-instrumentalist Joshua Barton. He self-released cassettes of his bedroom recordings before going to college at the University of Michigan in 2001, where his project turned into a full band, with support from several friends. The group now features Barton, Joel Schrauben on bass and Eric Gallippo on guitar.
Fields of Industry remains a deeply personal vehicle for Barton's reflective songwriting, with themes of youth, growing old, mortality and, ultimately, hope. The featured track, "Point of Contention," was originally part of a series of songs he wrote, looking at his friends and their relationships.
"'Point of Contention' was the most vague of these songs, because it was kind of about everyone I knew," says Barton. "The lyrics to 'Point of Contention' are about unspoken tensions, and the music is intentionally fragile. My wife, Mary Jane Walbridge, sang some on this. It has come to be more meaningful over the last few years because of how many people have expressed their appreciation for it. Also, we made a video for it, and lots of friends helped out. In a way, the song has brought me closer to some of my friends, so I guess the song itself has worked toward accomplishing the hope that inspired it."
Fields of Industry is currently working on an EP for release later in the year, with some limited touring planned for Two Dogs, A Television.