L to R: Daniel Rosson, Edward Droste, Chris Taylor & Christopher Bear
First let me say I had no idea these boys even existed until I saw a video on Stephen's blog, Post Apocalyptic Bohemian, so kudos to him for finding them. I really like their music. They recently released a new CD, Veckatimest. In checking around, I found them to be labeled as neo-folk or neo-folk psychedelic, neither of which seems to apply for me. Their music is so lush, so evocative. More about that later. They are based out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which was a pretty scary neighborhood 20 years ago, and have to think has changed thru the years.
Grizzly Bear consists of Daniel Rosson, Chris Taylor, Christopher Bear, and Edward Droste. While the first three are str8, Droste is openly gay. There seems to be little discussion of this outside of the LGBT media, and that is the way Droste likes it. He doesn't have a problem with his sexuality, but is part of the younger gay set who doesn't want the discussion to pigeon-hole the music of the band. Whatever. When I look thru my collection of out artists, I would defy anyone to be able to define it by the sexuality of the artists, but then I digress.
Veckatimest is a 12-song collection that the band claims to be their most accessible to date. This could very well be true, but can't say I have studied the previous stuff, so I'll let that go. As I listen to them, I rarely think folk music, but that could just be me. I instead think of the old experimental rock music of Robert Fripp and Brian Eno, with the wafting melodies forming soundscapes. Honestly, when I was listening, in my mind I was thinking Fripp meets Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill meets the Beach Boys (circa Pet Sounds). Now I love Fripp, Eno, Brecht and Weill, and tolerate Brian Wilson, so this is all good for me. The music is not about the catchy hook in the chorus, it is more about the journey the music takes you on as it washes over you. Here is the song Two Weeks performed live on Late Night with David Letterman.
There is no cookie cutter nor monotony on this CD. The thruline is the moodiness of the music, the interesting use of harmonies in the chorus, be it in the ethereal song like Two Weeks, the Harold-Arlen-meets-Brecht nature of Dory, or the 60s sound of Cheerleader, seen here performed live in Vancouver, British Columbia, this past May in a fan video.
You can find out more about Grizzly Bear on their website here. I can see where Grizzly Bear won't be for everyone, but I find the music to be most gratifying. Their music is available on iTunes.