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Field Music stands out at South by Southwest Fest

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ At the annual South by Southwest music festival, hundreds of bands often seamlessly mix in with the young, hip crowd.

One of those bands, the obsessively melodic British trio Field Music, would easily go unnoticed if they weren't having their photo taken. A curious onlooker asks, ``Which band are you guys?''

``Queen,'' replies Peter Brewis without hesitation.

Brewis and his brother David _ who along with keyboardist Andrew Moore make up the core members of Field Music _ probably could sing a few bars of ``Bohemian Rhapsody.'' The Brewis brothers can harmonize with the best of them.

Their self-titled debut, which will be released in the States on April 11, has already received good reviews in England, often garnering comparisons to old songsmiths like Brian Wilson or contemporary pop maestros like the Shins.

They each have played previously in other bands around their hometown of Sunderland in northeast England, but Field Music is fresh off the boat at SXSW. Their concerts here comprised about half of their American gigs thus far. They haven't played much more in England, either. Until the middle of January, they all had regular jobs.

Peter was a finance assistant for a charity, Moore worked at a sausage roll factory and David occasionally taught ``young whippersnappers.'' Are those careers over?

``Temporarily our jobs are history,'' Peter says. ``We'll see how it goes.''

They chose Field Music as their name because it doesn't sound like a band name _ they'd rather the name developed a connotation of its own. As David says, they'd like to create ``our own world.''

That world is one of high-pitched harmonies, echoing ``ba-da-ba'' choruses and quick guitar punches. Riffs that occasionally sound right off ``Abby Road'' are meticulously arranged with piano, strings and horns _ all of which remain subservient to a throbbing melody.

The single, ``You're So Pretty,'' reaches sublime heights as they sing, ``You're so pretty/ I could talk to you all night.''

Word of mouth has been strong for Field Music and their primary SXSW show was packed with eager fans hoping to hear the next big British export. But, by the band's own admission, they aren't as good in concert as they are in the studio.

Their precision is still impressive, but the sound isn't as full. On the album, several friends lend a hand, including members of the Futureheads and Maximo Park. With a slimmer lineup, Peter says, ``at the moment, we're basically our own covers band.''

``Recording is the art of what we do,'' says David Brewis.

Field Music shares much with their fellow Sunderland natives, the Futureheads, whose 2005 debut also mixed punk with a cappella.

``The difference between the type of music probably got less as the band members became the same,'' says David. (Peter was also the original drummer for the Futureheads.) ``I think we've got similar values about what pop music should be.''

As much as ever, there's a wealth of bands from England finding popularity in the U.S. But many groups _ like Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs and the Subways _ play a louder, brasher rock that could drown out the subtlety of Field Music.

``If you want to be in a scene in the U.K., you have to be cool and you have to pretend you don't know about stuff,'' says David. He mimics: ```We just go out and play and it just comes out.'''

Field Music would rather geekily chat about music all day. Peter says he's going through a Sonic Youth period, while David admits ``a Peter Gabriel problem.''

If anything, surely a Peter Gabriel ``problem'' will set Field Music apart from its compatriots.
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