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Secret Mezzanine: ‘Field Guide to American Houses’

'Field Guide to American Houses' is a solid start to music year 2023

Secret Mezzanine's new album received high marks from our reviewer.

J. Hubner

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 25, 2023

As the new year rolls in, the sun starts rising again over album releases. It’s a cold time for new music since everyone tried to fit as much in at the end of 2022 as possible, making the last month overwhelmingly quiet. But the dawn of a new music year is rising with the local four-piece Secret Mezzanine leading the way. 

Cai Caudill, Rob Greene, Garrett Spoelhof, and Jacob Sherfield have been together making music since 2017, and they recently released their third album, Field Guide to American Houses. The guys go all in with dreamy, melancholy pop in the vein of Dr. Dog, Shyboys, and Mac Demarco, as well as artists like Joji and Joe Keery’s Post Animal. It’s a sunlit drive into the horizon as you contemplate the world around you. 

“Too Soon” opens the album on a wistful note. Guitar, bass, keys, and a head-bopping rhythm paint a melancholy picture as if going over what’s gone wrong and right and finding a balance. It’s soulful and satisfying. “Pileated Woodpecker” picks up the pace, but stays in that comfort zone of contemplative grooves. “Did It Rain” has an almost Burt Bacharach feel, with a subtle trumpet solo and Brill Building vibes. 

Secret Mezzanine know melody and give us plenty, landing the vibes somewhere between the late ’70s and early ’80s, when bands like Steve Miller Band, Toto, and Atlantic Rhythm Section reigned supreme. Not that these guys look overly bearded and middle-aged, but the songs are made the old-fashioned way: with instruments, voices, and songwriters. 

“Blue Room” picks up the pace with a more driving indie rock feel, while closer “One More Night” builds momentum with big guitars and keys. For the most part, Field Guide to American Houses stays steadily in the contemplative lane. I’m reminded of artists like Dent May and the under-appreciated Icelandic band Tilbury while listening to Secret Mezzanine’s quietly contemplative third LP. 

The days are starting to get longer and new music is beginning to bloom in 2023. Secret Mezzanine’s Field Guide to American Houses is a solid start to music year 2023.


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