There are a variety of Bears with guitars out there. One has a former guitar player from King Crimson as a member. Another put out an album called Burrito Palace. But this group of Bears is from Cleveland and they peddle something they describe on their Facebook page as “indiepop! Or something else maybe.” They have a sound that is at times DIY and LoFi or even Elephant 6 when they really get excited. Their self-titled debut album Bears arrived in 2006 and the band’s two tonal moods are captured nicely with the moody “How to Live” (check out that crazy haunted movie music organ!) and the more upbeat, boppy “When You’re Away.”
2007 saw the release of two EPs, Shortest Day of the Year and Summer Tour. Here’s a song from each: “You Can Tell” features the band’s signature strummy sound while “Wait and See” has a very Apples in Stereo vibe. The latter song appears again on the band’s 2008 LP Simple Machinery with a lighter, more keyboard heavy arrangement. From the same record, “Your Help” opens with an Amélie-like accordion sound and a vocal that exudes Morrissey on a good day. “Who Knows” came out the same year as a stand alone single and represented a sonic departure for the band with its early Elvis Costello organ burst at the start and various intervals of the song.
Productivity slowed up after 2008. Aside from a holiday EP, fans had to wait for 2012’s Greater Lakes but it was worth it for the soaring and peppy “Wash My Hands” alone. In fact, the whole record had a stronger punch to the songs and arrangements. 2014’s double A-sided single “Friends/Choosing Your Words” is the last release from Bears, though more recent recordings from spin off projects are now emerging (see the Kalaika project here). “Choosing Your Words” has a lovely loping rhythm which seems to coda this band’s efforts in style.
One gets a sense from the self-effacing tone of the band’s self-penned history on their website that they had no illusions about becoming some kind of superstar success story. But I just discovered them via that great iTunes ‘listeners also bought’ feature so if we times that by 10,000 other random discoveries who knows? Check out the full complement of recordings and contact info for Bears on their Bandcamp, Facebook and band website.