September 07, 2004

High Dials "Fields in Glass"

The problem with being a music writer is sometimes we miss things the first time around. Sadly, there's simply no way one could cover everything, and there's always going to be a great band that slips through the cracks. Sometimes there's a good reason a band's overlooked by the press, but most of the time, there's really simply no good excuse. Sure, I could play the tortured, overloaded and underappreciated music editor role for you, but why bother?

I'm not sure where I stand in relation to the High Dials. I missed out on A New Devotion, an album that many people fawned over. If, like me, the name The High Dials means nothing to you, it's okay--and Fields In Glass is meant for you. On the surface, it's a remix single, but it's so much more than that, because I'm convinced that "Fields of Glass" is one of the best pop songs of 2003. It's offered here in three versions, a straightforwards radio mix, a 'club' mix and a 'Stained Glass' mix.

The original song is a nice little blast of retro-pop, with a really great pulsing beat and a vocal tag that borrows a little too heavily from the Beatles' "Rain," but only in the best of ways. In the hands of remixers, though, the song changes quite nicely. The 'Club Mix' version is a bit more faithful to the original version but with a much more pulsating dance beat. The 'Stained Glass' version strays off into a strong techno beat and chopped-up vocals and sounds utterly wonderful too. Both mixes clearly show that The High Dials took many notes from both the Stone Roses and especially Screamadellia-era Primal Scream.

Next to these three excellent versions of one wonderful song, it would be natural for the other songs on this EP to pale in comparison, and though they're not bad, they certainly do have a tough time in the company of greatness. "City Rivers" is another retro-rocker, similar in nature to "Fields in Glass" but a little more psych-rock and a little too Oasis for my taste. "The House Where Trouble Sleeps" is a sweet, touching little track, but it's ultimately B-side material. "Things Are Getting Better" is a sitar-driven and horn-laden jam session, and it really shows how diverse The High Dials can be.

Indeed, Fields in Glass is a really great introduction to a young band who you may have missed the first time around. I know that after spending time with "Fields in Glass," I'm left feeling happy and smiling and I have an overwhelming desire for including more High Dials music in my day...

--Joseph Kyle

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