Dec 012010
Authors: Nic Turiciano

It’s a little bit Atlantic Sea, a little jungle and a bit big city. It has qualities of multi-tiered production and shallow foundation. The music is open to the ears and yet hazy in its delivery.

Bear Hands’ debut album, “Burning Bush Supper Club,” is a mouthful, something difficult to memorize, made up of two distinct and distant phrases to make one tongue-in-cheek dictum.

The music follows the album title’s lead. At once it’s the Brooklyn sound of MGMT and Chairlift, the delivery of Modest Mouse and the formulaic rigidity of 90s pop acts that still play to auditoriums.

But the auditorium bands rarely sing lines as primal and funny as “Julien. Where are you? Donkey Boys are sold for 50 at the market. Ride my horse. Ride my boy away.”

It starts with “Crime Pays,” a piano and organ number that relies on a boomboom-thwap beat to drive along a song that stylistically lies somewhere between John Travolta’s heyday and today.

Each song that follows wanders along its own different musical path without ever straying too far from the rigid beats and electronics that ground the album.

It’s rigidity that all too often holds artists back, but Bear Hands uses it as a fishing net of sorts –– collecting all their ideas into one identifiable space and leaving it to the listener to unpack the sounds.

Bear Hands transitions from “High Society,” a track that easily could have been created by the punk-ish Les Savy Fav, into the wet and swampy “Tablasaurus,” which, in terms of texture, is the album’s highlight.

Every song on BBSC could be turned into a chart and radio single based on their structures –– verse chorus verse chorus bridge chorus –– but the open, atmospheric production lets the sounds break free from their fixed positions.

The perfect posture of the album can, at times, induce yawning, but it is only a side effect. It’s intent to prick ears delivers more often than not.

Music reviewer Nic Turiciano can be reached at

 Posted by at 2:47 pm

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