Standout Track: “Natural Disasters,” four minutes of emotive space-pop in pre-weirdo Radiohead style. Guitars lilt, keyboards waft, and everything sounds like it was recorded underwater. “Saw you there on crystal shores/I’m not a man if I’m down on all fours,” sings vocalist-guitarist Erik Sleight. Then, of course, somebody steps on a distortion pedal, and they all rock out.

Musical Motivation: At this point, nobody in Mittenfields really remembers exactly what it was that inspired “Natural Disasters.” It’s kind of an oldie. According to drummer Matt Fusiek, bassist Dave Craig-Mann initially wrote the central riff for another project—after the other members heard it, they fleshed it out from there. “Dave has been playing ‘Natural Disasters’ for, like, five years now,” says Fusiek, a 22-year-old Centreville, Va., resident. “Mittenfields is the band that’s finally playing it.”

Gigable Planets: Some play for pleasure. Some play for the girls. But Fusiek, who studies music at Northern Virginia Community College, sees his craft as a larger and more essential part of the cosmos—a natural force, if you will. “One of my fellow students in the music program, our professor told him that there was a scientific study about the distance between notes. If you map out the smallest parts of those, somehow the distance between the notes, or the ratios or something, will come out to be the exact distance of the planets to the sun,” says Fusiek. “Maybe that’s a bad description of it. I guess I just think music is like an element—it’s incredibly important.”