Spotlight: Grizzly Bear
It’s been a goal for us to become as collaborative as possible,” explains Daniel Rossen, guitarist for the white-hot indie rock quartet Grizzly Bear about the democratic creative process of Shields, the outstanding follow-up to the New York group’s critically and commercially lauded 2009 breakthrough LP Veckatimest. “All four of us have strong ideas and a strong aesthetic sense. In each other’s presence, we all perform and write in ways that we wouldn’t on our own—and in ways that require the input and reflection of the rest of the guys. Working collaboratively makes the most of our time as a band.”
Which is not to say that the group hasn’t always been harmonious as a creative entity since emerging from the rib of chief singer/songwriter Ed Droste’s solo ambitions in the early part of the 21st century. Their compatibility as a unit has always been a palpable propeller, moving their sound further into the throes of innovative interplay— particularly in the context of Shields, which finds the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based band moving far past the bedroom-born wisp of their electronic-folk salad days by cranking up the volume to new levels of intensity, buoyed by a more involved amount of songwriting within the group infrastructure.
“It just happened naturally,” Rossen explains of Grizzly Bear’s new direction for their fourth proper full-length. “There was a fair amount of tension in our lives, I guess, and it happened to express itself this time around in a lot more volume. I think the volume might also be a byproduct of our attempt to get at more direct performances. Sometimes those performances turned into bash-fests. As a band that has put so much effort into meticulous detail, it feels good to thrash a little every now and then.”
And while one could speculate that a significant catalyst behind the evolutionary push into more electrified territory was when the group played a successful opening stint on Radiohead’s 2008 tour of the United States, the truth behind the might of Shields is undoubtedly the increasingly pivotal role of Rossen—who joined Grizzly Bear in 2005 and who has seen continued growth as one of rock’s most innovative young guitarists.
“Chris Taylor and I have been recording together for years and Chris is always looking for new ways to record my guitar sounds, always trying out different mic setups and so on,” Rossen muses in reference to the challenges of experimenting with new sonic textures for Shields. “I’ve also been trying to avoid my own clichés—avoiding all the reverb and delay, that kind of roomy surf guitar sound that was prevalent in a lot of our earlier recordings. We tried some new approaches this time, mostly just to keep things interesting for ourselves. Recording is all about pleasing your own ears. We look for sounds that we like.” (The guitarist also released the solo EP Silent Hour/Golden Mile earlier this year.)
Rossen’s education, including a stint at a music program for jazz-minded high schoolers at Northwestern University (outside of Chicago where he met Grizzly Bear drummer Chris Bear), has also proven to play a key role in how he approximates his course in the quartet.
“One of my favorites from my teenage years—and still a favorite today—is Gil Evans,” he says of the jazz legend. “There was a scope in Gil’s arrangements that felt beyond jazz. It felt intuitive and unpretentious, unimpressed by his own technical ability—purely musical and very emotional arrangements that incorporated a lot of subtlety and restraint and a very human looseness among the players. His music felt complex and subtle without feeling labored. He made it sound so easy and natural.” “How Can I Be Sure?”
In honor of Umphrey’s McGee’s return to Summer Camp this weekend, we present the group’s Brendan Bayliss and Jake Cinninger performing this version of “The Pequod” from UM’s Anchor Drops.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
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