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Just as quizzically as they disappeared off the face of hip indie rockers playlists, Phillys Strapping Fieldhands have resurfaced to wow the listening public with another outrageously good release. Unless you had direct deposit allocated to an account at your local record store in the mid-90s, you probably passed right over this eccentric combination of British skiffle, sobering sincerity and occasional treks into the world of unconventional noise-rock. With previous releases on Shangri-La, Siltbreeze and their own Omphalos Records, the Fieldhands have consistently received praise from critics, while invariably sneaking beneath the publics musical radar. Its been almost ten years since the bands first release; perhaps this latest batch of remarkable ditties will finally score the Fieldhands some well-deserved adoration from the public.nIf youre in need of immediate justification for these seemingly outlandish claims about the Fieldhands, try out Panic in the Commune". Full of chiming guitar notes, an undercurrent of swirling psychedelia-blessed chords and a charming multi-voiced chorus, "Commune" epitomizes the bands unusual style, sinewy vocal melodies and curious topical content while delivering an unmistakably catchy tune. Digging a bit deeper into The Third Kingdom, both the warm strumming and an organ-heavy melody on "Heave Ho" and the melancholic "Eager Girl" have the familiar faux-British quality that has been a Fieldhands staple since the bands first release. "Cold Rock Chameleon" acknowledges New Zealand icons like The Clean and Straightjacket Fits, with dense, dreamy layers surrounding a center of warm pop goodness. Prepare for a mind-altering, head-tilting aural experience, as The Fieldhands strike several curious chords -- both figurative and literal. Just as appealing as the bands retro-outfitted melodies is its penchant for messing things up with a bit of oddball noise. Were not talking Merzbow-inflicted ear damage, but slices of tuneful, drug-tested meandering (check out "Dustbin Joe") that bring to mind such varied influences as The Dead C and The Pogues. "Folk is Tough" teeters on the edge of musical chaos, fuzzy and almost jig-like as it rattles through puzzling rhythms and inebriated vox. Somehow its all wrapped up into one glorious musical offering, baring a new range of emotions and styles with each new track.\r\nTo peg The Strapping Fieldhands with a generic label such as "indie-rock" would be a gross mistake indeed. The band exhibits a fondness for unusual timings and melodies, and runs through a broad spectrum of influences and peculiarities, none of them anchored in stereotypical indie sounds. However, The Third Kingdoms greatest strength is its consistency. The band hasnt wandered too far from its original style, honing its songwriting skills rather than expanding its sonic universe, and in the process creating its best batch of tunes to date. By God, there is a bit of innovation left in the rock n roll world!" - Andrew Migilow.

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