During the ’90s alt-rock boom there was a specific appetite for the sort of rock that had “college” pegged to it as a descriptor — and not just because of the way program directors at university radio stations consistently fell for its charms. Witty, erudite lyrics, precise musicianship, elliptical approaches to melody that manage to catch the ear, and conversational vocals that recalled a TA’s discussion-section prompts were all hallmarks of acts like Barbara Manning’s expansive, slightly sullen SF Seals and the sprightly Los Angeles outfit the Sugarplastic.
Both of those acts, and a host of other left-of-the-dial stalwarts, come to mind while listening to the pleasant six-song EP by Field Day, a local quartet that includes former Globe critic Joan Anderman and current Globe design chief Dan Zedek among its ranks. Recorded at the Somerville studios Armory Sound and Q Division, “Field Day” opens with “Caroline (Crawling),” which combines loopy and churning guitars in a way that’s slightly anthemic; Zedek penned it and “Starlight,” which starts off jittery but segues into a sweet, chiming shuffle.
Anderman’s harmonies on that track are a particular highlight, as are the two tracks where she takes lead, the brooding “Lovely Ghost” and the loping “Dr. Mesmer.” Available on CD and download via Bandcamp (www.fielddaymusic.bandcamp.com), “Field Day” recalls a time when seven-inches ruled the schools – and their in-house stations’ playlists. (Out now)
Field Day performs at Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, on Sunday.Maura Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @maura.