Articles tagged with Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear @ the Commodore Ballroom, 5/27/09

I didn’t make down to Sasquatch this year, but at least I’ve been able to enjoy some of the festival’s sloppy seconds (ewww…sorry). Animal Collective played on Sunday, and on Monday TV on the Radio was in town (which I passed on, since I’ve already seen the group once on the Dear Science tour). Last night, Grizzly Bear played a record release show at the Commodore, celebrating the critically-approved Veckatimest.

During a mid-set rendition of “Colorado,” the closing track off of 2006′s Yellow House, a fan screamed “You’re amazing!” at the top of his lungs. And that simple statement pretty much said it all—Grizzly Bear is a technically stunning band, each member is virtuosic at his instrument, and bassist Chris Taylor is so man-pretty he could have been carved out of porcelain. (That last statement might be irrelevant to the band’s music, but it’s still worth noting.) Every song was flawlessly executed, without so much as a note or a beat out of place.

But the band’s greatest strength was also its greatest weakness. With such meticulous attention to every detail, the performance came off as overstudied—no one could ever accuse Grizzly Bear of being too lively on stage. What’s worse, with only four members on stage, the band wasn’t able to replicate the grandeur of its studio arrangements. “Cheerleader,” so hauntingly beautiful in studio form, was flat and lifeless when replicated live.

The songs that worked best were those that emphasized melody over musicianship. “Two Weeks” and “Knife” were predictably awesome, as were the explosive harmonies on the chorus of “While You Wait for the Others.” But on the less pop-oriented material, the band resembled the chamber pop equivalent of prog. It’s counter-intuitive to suggest that a band play less well, but for Grizzly Bear, it would be nice to see the members take a less studious approach.
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Here come the “blow your mind” jokes

Although Grizzly Bear’s third album, Veckatimest, isn’t officially out until this Tuesday, a low quality rip leaked in early March, meaning that many fans have already had it in rotation for the better part of three months. Rather than taking the wind out of Grizzly Bear’s album release, however, the leak seems to have fuelled the hype, as the rave reviews are starting to pour in.

The Brooklyn quartet has released a video for the lead single “Two Weeks,” a fantastic chamber folk tune based around plinking piano chords and a soaring, Brian Wilson-evoking melody. Grizzly Bear uses harmonized vocal runs where other baroque pop bands would have used lavish strings, meaning that the song retains its humanity, despite the orchestral grandeur of the arrangement.

The group has shot a video for “Two Weeks” just in time for the Veckatimest release date. It begins with the four members sitting in a church, lip syncing and smiling creepily with blank expressions. Nothing happens for nearly half of the song’s four-minute runtime, until their faces gradually begin to glow. As the song reaches its crescendo, their heads explode in fireworks, with white sparks shooting out of the backs of their heads. It’s a strangely compelling clip, which is bound to illicit lots of bad jokes about “blowing your mind.”

Veckatimest is due out May 26 via Warp.
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