Bacchanal, Brooklyn, Bears: Finally some B’s you can be happy about

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This is part two of a two-part series introducing you to the acts playing at this year’s Bacchanal.

“Everything but country,” is an all too familiar way for unimaginative people to define their taste, or lack there of, in music. Sure, we all like different kinds of music, but the ambiguity of that statement is preposterous and country is just not that bad. Like it or not, Grizzly Bear’s music incorporates all sorts of genres and to some extent reflects that glib tag mentioned before. Their music has been described as everything from folk, country-folk, folk-rock and psychedelic folk-rock to electro-folk, post-rock and Baroque pop.

Fortunately, this Brooklyn based quartet coordinates their eclectic influences with dreamy cohesion. The pluck of acoustic guitars, reeds, retro organs and the occasional banjo articulate the soporific voice of the band’s lead singer, Ed Droste. With breathy gasps and sighs, Droste’s vocals give Grizzly Bear’s songs a natural, nonchalant sound.

Grizzly Bear is at its best when it picks at the flat pace and lyrics of folk with tinny electronic tones. From their 2007 album Friend, “He Hit Me, (and it felt like a kiss)” combines a poppy accessibility with these eerie overtones. The song was originally written by Little Eva, as a rather unfortunate tribute to her sadistic boyfriend, but Grizzly Bear amps up the song’s psychological nuance with delicate instrumentation and careful attention to sonic detail. The unsettling horror and humor of “He Hit Me” are less evident
on the Grizzly Bear’s 2006 album, Yellow House.


On Yellow House, Grizzly Bear showcases a warmth and clarity perfect for Columbia’s upcoming spring weekend. Also on the album, “Easier,” “Little Brother,” and “On a Neck, On a Spit,” blend the dreaminess of Grizzly Bear’s earlier songs like “Deep Sea Diver” with a distinct rock and roll rhythm. “Plans” and “Little Brother” are successful in this effort and are both easily accessible to the listener.  Accompanying the steady wonks of the banjo in “Plans,” whistles and sighs add refreshing sounds to the song without complicating its tempo. Although “Knife“– the album’s height of pop accessibility — may not be Grizzly Bear’s most technically or artistically innovative track, it is still an incredibly fun song. 

If you’re still wondering why Columbia is shelling out big bucks for some Brooklyn band you’ve never heard of, take this into account, Dear Reader. On Thursday, the list of artists who will play at Lollapoolza, Chicago’s three day summer blowout concert, was announced. This year, Grizzly Bear was chosen for the line up and will be sharing stage with Kayne West, Wilco, Gnarls Barkely, Cat Power, Bloc Party, Girl Talk, Amy Winehouse and Lupe Fiasco among others. The artists making up this colossal line-up are as talented musicians as they are performers– and Grizzly Bear is no exception.  


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  1. Bwog...  

    Where is the LateNite review???

  2. Bwog--

    good job on the Bacchanal coverage!! These are nicely written articles, and Grizzly bear is wonderful :)

  3. lolla  

    list released? not on their website. the bands you named seem more like obvious types that will almost without a doubt play at lolla. if you got this lineup, i want to see it!

  4. ...  

    how would i describe grizzly bear? the sort of music that npr chops up for bumpers when they're trying to be a bit edgy...

  5. Awesome  

    Grizzly Bear is a really cool band and I am glad they are coming. I also enjoyed this article though I do think He Hit Me is one of their worst songs and not really indicative of the band's strengths.

  6. This blows

    What's up with the really shitty bands playing at Columbia concerts? I wish less emo kids were picking the music the rest of Columbia has to listen to.

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