Breaking into the air around us with a certain pastoral psychedelia that will perhaps serve as the greatest musical and aesthetical theme of the record as a whole, The One Eighties’ Minefields awakens with “Two Jet Planes” and only gets more gripping as we press on in its ten-song tracklist. From this initial offering of country-style surrealism, we enter the clutches of the somewhat melodic psychedelic tune “Minefields,” this title track serving as an earth-cracking segue from our opening cut into “Nightmare, Baby,” a potent and poppy homage to West Coast surreal rock of years past. The One Eighties are straddling a lot of different grooves and concepts here, and though some are more familiar by leaps and bounds than others are, they’re packaged together to create a multidimensional treat for all the senses to enjoy this season.


“Fools Gold” is the most hook-packed number on this album, but it doesn’t feel rushed; actually, I think it’s one of the more deliberate and thought-out recordings here. There’s so much restraint on the part of The One Eighties as they get into the latter half of this track, and yet their energy is erupting something fierce at the same time, yielding this contrast in the music that is almost impossible to ignore once you’ve picked it up for the first time. The dedicated groove tune “Hold Back the Tide” is a little more palatable to the casual alternative country fan – as opposed to the aficionado-preferred content that comes ahead of it in this record’s natural order – but at this point in Minefields, expecting to hit a mainstream shelf in the songwriting is rather futile, to put it mildly.

The One Eighties turn up the psychedelic chills for a briefly postmodern go-round in “No King” that cements the moodiness that will drive home tracks like the second act’s “Dead Star Light” before they even begin to play. The band never gets too over the top, even at their most theatrical in tone i.e. the spellbinding “Cinnamon,” and although it’s clear that they spent a lot of time taking influence from the moderate progressive content of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s before drawing up a foundation for this latest effort, there’s no mistaking Minefields for an outright concept album. In my personal view, it is simply too sophisticatedly jagged whilst being excitingly rigid in certain key moments, and most of all, it’s truly free from the constraints that come with making something that has a defined start and finish. This feels just a bit broader than that.

We come to an end in Minefields with the one-two punch that is the relatively melodic “Fever Dream” and haunting “Trail,” the latter of which feels like a direct continuation of “No King.” When the dust has settled on this year I don’t think it would be out of the question to call this one of the most complete and exciting releases of 2023 among the alternative country and indie pop/rock undergrounds. Bursting at the seams with originality but connected to an iconic blend of influences that seems to impart something wholly unique around every turn, The One Eighties’ Minefields is a must-listen.

Garth Thomas