Grizzly Bear

Saturday, September 26, 2009

 

Drawings by William J. O'Brien, courtesy of Shane Campbell Gallery, Chicago and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York. Design by Ben Wilkerson Tousley. Hand-drawn text by Amelia Bauer.


A few weeks ago, after recommending Band of Horses to a friend, said friend returned the favor by recommending the band Grizzly Bear to me. And thus, great affection for GB has ensued ever since.

Grizzly Bear's latest album, Veckatimest (released May 2009 through Zeitgeist Management) is an unbridled journey into melancholy; hitting symphonic sweet spots without pretension or unnecessary fodder. Ramped up with soul, orchestral nods, and the spirit of folk all make for a heartbreaking and sonically charged album. Some of the album's greatest strengths lie in the brief interludes between the bridge and third verses, when the electric guitar stretches its legs, the bass drums roll, violins caress, and the touchstone of the band's sound--lilting harmonies--elevate the tracks.

The band has enjoyed a stealth come-up in the indie music scene: four guys from Brooklyn,NY who, for little over three years, have been quietly making music that is tender and raucous enough to jolt even the most musically-somnambulistic listener out of his slumber.

Anyone still grinning from the angelic, piano-poppy track (and glinty video) for "Two Weeks", in which lead singer Ed Droste channels 80's balladeer Tony Kemp of Spandau Ballet fame and the spirit of Beach Boys tune "God Only Knows", barely had time to massage their cheeks before the band's next breezy track was released.

You could conceivably argue how genius a decision Grizzly Bear made by putting Michael McDonald at the helm of their re-released version of "While You Wait for the Others." The band's original version already had a strong following, but blending generations and genres gave the song weight and reiterated the band's penchant for great songwriting and melodies. McDonald simultaneously infuses some sultry and adds a few more years to the track by pulling it back into a yester-year of 1970s funk. The bass guitar rifts in this sonorous jam share the spotlight with a hard drum.

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