The Old Haunts: Fallow Field

Zeth Lundy

If minor chords, eighth notes from a fuzz bass, and the occasional arpeggio rupture make you salivate, read on.

The Old Haunts

Fallow Field

Label: Kill Rock Stars
US Release Date: 2005-04-12
UK Release Date: 2005-04-11
Amazon affiliate

The Old Haunts are an excitable bunch, enthusiasts of muddy hued garage rock that rumbles and stumbles like the after-effects of an unexpected electrical shock. Their restless rhythmic attack, greatly informed by the robust riffage of '60s British underdogs like the Creation, is at once sloppy and snarly, alternately twisted into gnarls and unraveled like defeated vines. Asserting allegiance to minor chords, fuzz bass eighth notes, naturally distorted guitars, and barreling arpeggio stutters, the Olympia, Washington trio plays like it's caught between disparate decades.

They don't sound confused, just eager to hear the cones in the amps crackle and the metallic edges of the drum kit incur the wrath of the sound waves. When Craig Extine's guitar starts mouthing off a "Paint It Black" figure in "Deflect It", all that Scott Seckington and Danny Sasaki want to do is bounce it around the room with drum and bass lurches. Extine hits back with a slithering, sneering vocal that's all reedy exclamation and no melody, a thin one-note howl squeezed from his chest in tandem with the conservatively accentuated rhythm.

That's the racquetball recoil of the Old Haunts' debut album, Fallow Field, in a nutshell. The scope of the record really doesn't expand beyond the nutshell; as much as the band digs into its crumbling shanty of sound, it rarely looks beyond the façade. The same brash, fuzzy faced formula is martially executed throughout Fallow Field's dozen tracks. The energy is there, tangible and traceable, but the concept is recycled ad infinitum -- as the record progresses, there's a nagging feeling of being stuck on the same boundless tract. The Old Haunts have found what is ostensibly their identity (reminding us of their discovery on track after track), yet little is done to really investigate outside of a relatively conservative definition.

Any one of Fallow Field's songs stands up well on its own, representing a snug halfway point between bands like Dead Meadow and the White Stripes. "By the Bay" and "Walk Through the Woods" curl and cramp up like the Yardbirds on weak acid, Seckington's bass and Sasaki's drums staggering around on Pacific Northwest-booted feet. "It's So Scandalous" is a near-prototype of the sludgy rock responsible for kicking open the doors to metal and punk: it doesn't fit into either genre, but feels like rock music bored with itself, inconsolable and unsatisfied, ready to make that leap to something different. "The Old World", one of Fallow Field's six songs to feature a different drummer than Sasaki, may be the record's most uncharacteristic and satisfying track. It features a discernable melody reinforced by guitar, bass, and piano, echoing the minor key smolder of the Animals and -- for what is perhaps the one and only time in the record's duration -- offering something to relish in and return to.

Absorbed all at once, Fallow Field is just so ordinarily redundant. It's not a taxing or exasperating listen, merely one that begins and ends at roughly the same place. If the barrage of prickly instruments and nagging vocals feels fresh in one moment, it's stale (or just commonplace) at another; without melodies or other contemplated complexities, there's not much to remember at the record's end. It's difficult, too, to begin a discourse about the lyrical elements of Fallow Field, since Extine's yelps obscure many of the words. The Old Haunts, then, are judged by the racket they make: in small doses an endearing, scruffy haired noise, but dangerously close to a racket all the same.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.