Show Pics: Grizzly Bear @ Stubb’s (4/8)

Hi, nice to meet you. You mind giving me some air?

Wow, Stubb’s was it packed for Grizzly Bear. So packed that the photo pit was moved in to allow for more people space because the show was oversold. I didn’t know that sardines had date nights. Was it worth it the uncomfortably close neighbors?

A couple quick notes on the show including my love for Owen Pallett and of course the human monopod show pics…

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Grizzly Bear – Shields

Rating: ★★★★½

With their release of Veckatimest in 2009, Grizzly Bear essentially placed themselves on the map for those of you who had no prior knowledge of these indie rockers. Receiving accolades upon accolades, that album made it to the top of end of year lists and fans swooned over the brooding, yet airy sounds of this band.

While I was a fan of that last album, I have to confess that I didn’t enjoy it to the same obsessive level that others seemed to. After too much repeated listening, I found myself tuning out of the music and forgetting I was listening; the passive and subtle nature of this band made it easy for them to slip into the background. Thus, the biggest change I was hoping for in Shields was a shift from the passive, to a more aggressive and gripping sound dispersed through the whole record.

The singles for this release foreshadow the success of this album. “Sleeping Ute” and “Yet Again” have that same edge to them that prior Grizzly Bear singles, like “Two Weeks” possessed. First up is “Sleeping Ute,” which is guitar heavy, to say the least. Loops of distorted guitars welcome you in, and then the crash of the lighter-than-air-percussion follows and it isn’t long before the familiar calming vocals of Ed Droste break into the mix. At four minutes and thirty-six seconds of experimental rock bliss, this track is excellent for you to embark on your journey through Shields. It grips you right from the beginning, doling out a rockier jam than expected from Grizzly Bear, but the band also backs off for the last minute of the song, introducing a winding and equally interesting sound. “Yet Again” holds this same outright rock flair, complete with the catchiness of the aforementioned past single.

Unlike Veckatimest, it’s not just the singles on Shields that really catch your attention—the way it should be on cohesive album. Each song is enticing and an important part of the record. Even on the slower numbers, take “The Hunt,” for example, on which it’s difficult to slip away from the captivating nature of the music. Even late in the game, the band still manages to cram in another fully fleshed out song in “Sun in Your Eyes.” This closing piece is multi-crescendo’ed and epic in nature, spanning seven minutes in length, but never losing your complete attention through each swell and fall.

Grizzly Bear have certainly stepped up their game—fans of their previous work will grow impossibly more smitten and newcomers will have a hard time resisting to fall in love.

2009 Top 50 Albums

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Creating a Top 50 Albums list is never easy.  You have to battle with what you think the world believes, and what you truly believe in your heart, to be solid jams.  We have even more trouble because we have to three writers, all who have different ideas, and we have to make those ideas fit into a neat box.  Well, we got it done, and honestly, our criteria was based on two things: how great we thought the album was, artistically speaking, and how long we listened to it without getting bored.  That’s it. It’s fool proof; you might not like it, but it’s our list, so here it is… Read more

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

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Rating: ★★★★★

At this point in the year, it seems pretty redundant to discuss this album, especially considering all the accolades it has received during the time in which the album leaked onto the Internet.  But, be that as it may, one really has to take a look at this album; you would be doing yourself an injustice to ignore Grizzly Bear at this point, and your record collection would be worse off for not adding Veckatimest to your catalog.

Even on the first track, it is hard to find negative commentary on the album, no matter how you wish to label this band and their hype.  “Southern Point” has various elements to the entirety of the song, be it ornate guitar picking or the back and forth piano work.  You’ll come to find that the various layers that were present during Yellow House have now been polished, to the benefit of every minute of the album.

Then comes the first single, “Two Weeks.” You could count this song as one of the best songs of the year, based merely upon the multiple layer harmonies that go throughout, but that probably wouldn’t do the song any justice.  Each layer of sound just seems to compile more melody as the song inches along like a caterpillar; the song builds with “ooh oooh oooh oohs” until the end, and when it’s complete, you feel a little bit worn out.

You find yourself two songs into the album, which most will prematurely title as best of the year.  From this point on, you cannot go back into the past; you cannot look back into the music of this year, for nothing will seem as complete as this album. Songwriter Daniel Rossen, who also fronts Department of Eagles, definitely has left his mark on this album, or at least you can see his maturity throughout the evolution of this album. What once seemed like quiet bedroom songs now have blossomed into full compositions, each worthy of standing on their own.

“Dory” seems like a simplistic enough song, but the magic in the vocal harmonies carry it above your average tune, into a new level of greatness few bands have yet to achieve.  “Ready, Able” has this brooding rhythm beneath the surface of the song, but with the intricate additions to the song, the tension is released, and the song courses on into one of the albums more beautiful moments.  “About Face” is the perfect song, with subdued percussion backing the song; the band has paid attention to the most minute detail, which, of course, makes each song stronger than the one before it.

You can hide behind the hype, declaring that the band is just riding the waves of popularity by the Internet popularity they’ve garnered, but listening to Veckatimest, you will truly see that Grizzly Bear deserves every kind word that was written about them.  Very few people will find that there is anything negative to say, and in that statement, you have the best album of the year.

[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/08-about-face.mp3]

Download: Grizzly Bear – About Face [MP3]

FT5: Anticipated SXSW Artists Releases

0313top5cover1While we were roaming around town last week, we started thinking about some of the upcoming releases that have got us peeing our pants in anticipation this year. Then we saw some of these artists during SXSW and got even more excited for what’s to come. For today’s Top 5, we wanted to take a look at some of theses new releases and rank them in order of just how excited we are about them. Some big names who were in town (Decemberists, Dan Auerbach, etc.) have already put out some solid releases this year, so we’re hoping that these won’t let us down. Follow the jump for our full Top 5 of anticipated releases from SXSW artists.
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