Cassette Corner: Field Medic - "P E G A S U S T H O T Z / a book worth reading"

Field Medic - P E G A S U S T H O T S / a book worth reading
(2014 Self-Released)

For a tape release, this double EP by San Fransisco solo act Field Medic is surprisingly polished and timeless. Though backed by minimal instrumentation, often limited to a single guitar track and occasionally a drum machine, frontman Kevin Patrick's fusion of airy chords and a prominent, often jarring vocal delivery recalls the raw brilliance displayed by three of my favorite singer-songwriters: Neil Young, J Mascis and, particularly, Colin Meloy. The opening track of P E G A S U S T H O T S, "Gypsy Dead Girl", takes a particularly Neil Young-influenced approach to forming its atmosphere: an ambling drum machine rhythm that reminds me of Young's "Helpless" carries the song's slacker-folk construction of spacey strumming and harmonica. While many lo-fi artists bury their vocals in fuzz (which, I'll concede, can sound very cool), Field Medic's are stand out boldly, as if acrylic paint atop watercolors. The tape's titular track is somewhat of an outlier, coated in a strangely psychedelic coat of fluttering, Sung Tongs-y guitar, but its experimentation only accents rather than distracts from the meat of the song, which has one of the EP's catchiest hooks. The only weak spot of P E G A S U S T H O T S is "I Swallowed Five Silver Dollars". It feels like a rehashing of "Gypsy Dead Girl", and makes for a less satisfying end to the EP than "A Pikture of U" might have delivered.

The second half of the tape, a book worth reading, is a more intimate venture. Its first offering, the title track, is a stripped-down tune, just Patrick singing over his guitar, but it's possibly the best song on the tape in terms of sound quality. It's a sharp contrast against the other two tracks that make up the EP, dusty demos recorded to cassette. Each of these contains beautiful, rich vocal harmonies which float upon skeletal fingerpicking. "Feel Like Dyin'" really reminds me of Johnny Cash's "Daddy Sang Bass", a track I used to dig in grade school. The country influence suits Field Medic well, making for a perfect surprise at the end of the tape (the two tracks aren't listed on the cassette cover's backflap). This double EP is a fun listen that's satisfying from end to end, filled with plenty of raw, mid-fi vibes.