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Bear’s Den – Islands


Rating: ★★★½ ·

Bear’s Den is a three-part band from London that first caught my attention when I saw them open for someone right here in Austin. I was struck by their folksy based indie rock—some of the songs had that immediate tangibility in the live setting that comes with a group with good energy and chemistry. Islands is their debut record, one which has the group giving you ten tracks of this energy into one neat package for your consumption.

The band opens this debut with “Again,” which will immediately catch your attention for its looping banjo, full sounding acoustic guitar and steady drumbeat. This track has a cyclical kind of build to it, each time the band comes back around to the chorus they seem to have gained some steam. The vocals have this hollow yet vastly deep quality to them that intensify with the song as well as the addition of backing vocals to make them emotionally charged. Genre wise, this opener harkens that of folk, rock, and pop all in one, which is the case for the first part of the album.

Track, “Isaac,” takes a different approach than what you’ve heard thus far on Islands, turning to a softer sound that has me reminiscent of some Great Lake Swimmers track. It’s a pleasantly delicate tune, beginning with the plucking of banjo and acoustic guitar and vocals, devoid of any percussion. This song crawls along, the gang vocals combining with the instruments to generate a beauty of a number that finds itself in the lack of a steady beat created by drums. The rhythm comes directly from the expressed elements—it’s simple but also simply moving. Other well-crafted numbers that strike my fancy later on in the album are “When You Break” which has the band building up the suspense all the way through the track to its end. The song has this bubbling undercurrent of an electronic element that you may not even notice until the other elements cut out before the bridge kicks in. This is one of the best numbers on the record, and its got me listening over and over, each time the little nuances of it becoming apparent and appreciated.

While Islands is very easy on the ears, at places, it feels almost too easy. I’m left wanting some tracks that push the boundaries of folksy quiet indie rock, whereas a lot of these fall into the Mumford & Sons pattern of alternating quiet moments of stripped sound with loud twangy jam sessions. Bear’s Den moves beyond this at times, but if that’s your bag, this band does it well. Find a track or two to jam to before you hear it too many times on the radio.



Double Show Review: Sharon Van Etten/ Allo Darlin’ @ The Mohawk 10/18

The MohawkSaturday night was a busy night at The Mohawk for tunes, but one that worked out quite nicely for those interested in both main acts. Outside featured the emotional force of Sharon Van Etten, riding high off the release of her latest stunning album Are We There, which came out earlier this year. Inside had Allo Darlin’ doing the same—their new record, We Come From The Same Place, just released last week. The combination of these acts provided a nice balance of heavy and light to the night, both groups giving out their own take on catharsis.

Read more about how the night unfolded and see some stunning pictures from B.Gray after the jump.

Read More

Adios Ghost Give Us Another Hit

75159_540445102636607_944786907_n-e1359419170913Adios Ghost is a Brooklyn band I’ve posted about a few times in the past and I’m excited to be sharing a new single of theirs with you today.  Once again the band offers a full bodied sound that couldn’t possibly be described in one genre.  Maybe it’s folky style rock?  Or pop music?  Who cares, just check it out and enjoy the awesomeness.

Adios Ghost have this track and another one over on bandcamp for free!

ATH Records Go Big with Shivery Shakes New Single

Shivery ShakesOk okay, I know last week was really heavy with all my talk of Shivery Shakes and their new LP.  This is the last time I bring the band up, at least for the next few days.  Consequence of Sound had the privilege of premiering the band’s latest single, “Swimming,” on Friday.  If you’ve caught the band live, this is one of my favorite tracks the band performs, as Marcus takes over vocal duties from behind the drum kit.  It’s just another great tune on the bands debut, Three Waves and a Shake, which you’ll be able to get from us at Austin Town Hall Records or our friend Punctum Records.  I promise; I won’t post about them for two days.

Jittery Pop from Boyracer

photo02There’s a bit of a staggering stutter that comes to the guitar work in the opening moments of this new single from Boyracer.  It should come as no surprise as the band’s been releasing catchy pop tunes for their 20+ career…landing on labels like Slumberland and Sarah Records.  Sadly, the word on the street is that this might be their final EP, which will come out on Emotional Response, the label run by the band’s Stewart Anderson.  The label is about to release a slew of new singles from the likes of Hulaboy and Safe Distance, but I figured this one is a must for your radar.

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Download: Boyracer – The Kind of Man You Really Are [MP3]

Have A Nice Weekend

10644280_10154566418645301_7516351349019480014_oNathan intro’ed you to Niagara in a post in June. Their album, Don’t Take It Personality, is now out. I went back to listen today and figured I would share this one.

So, y’all have a nice weekend. I’ll see you at Erasure or Sharon Van Etten/Allo Darlin’. Busy Saturday. Home tonight. Flank steak marinated in red wine garlic, thyme, oregano and olive oil, maybe some roasted leeks, I like to cook. #themoreyouknow

Did You Hear That New Parquet Courts Track?

parquetYes. You’ve by now heard about the new Parquet Courts song (and LP), but at the risk of redundancy, I’m going to post it too.  One, I really like this song; it’s like the band doing their best Bill Callahan impression…it’s a damn good impression.  Two, the guy that owns their label, What’s Your Rupture, is one of my Top 5 Nicest Dudes in Rock n’ Roll. Seriously. Nicest dude. Good friend. The new LP is called Content Nausea, and might feature some variance on the project’s sound, as we witness the band indulging in influences we might not have noticed early on.  This is probably one of my favorite tracks of the week; the rest of the album is out December 2nd.

Another Listen to New Cult of Youth

cultThe last track I heard from Cult of Youth saw the band exploring some new territory, but their latest single has them revisiting their own hallowed ground.  This song opens with a strummed guitar ringing, as if they’re creating this huge pop sphere that’s waiting to explode. However, Sean Ragon’s darkened vocal touch takes away from that world, offering a more balance approach.  For me, I’m stuck on the lyrics and the emotional appeal of the musical construction, so I’ll be picking up the band’s new effort, Final Days, when its released by Sacred Bones on November 11th.

Still In Love with Cool Ghouls

coolzI can’t explain to you how much I’m anticipating the newest release from Cool Ghouls.  As the weather finally cools down in Austin (then heats back up), I’m thirsting for the perfect tunes for my backyard party playlist.  You know the sort, where the songs are going to grab the attention of a few of your friends, but the rest will let it fade into the background.  Still, it’ll start a conversation about great records, and I’m thinking that this next opus, A Swirling Fire Burning Through the Rye, will be just that conversation starter.  It’s got a drape of psychedelia atop a Brian Wilson harmony village…sounds perfect.  Look for the release from Empty Cellar on November 11th.

Sat/Sun Austin Weekend Show Spotlight

austinAs I said yesterday, there’s tons of places you can find yourself this weekend for a good old fashioned music concert.  But, maybe you need a suggestion or two as to where you wanna go? Well, I’m here to point you in the right direction, based on my extremely biased opinion.  Feel free to ignore these options, or play everyone’s favorite game of Where’s Norman Wanklord? Here’s the list. Read More

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