Sure, the usage of animals, especially bears, in indie band names is nothing new. Besides, you already know which Grizzly Bear album and which Panda Bear album to dish out for, so if you’re craving your fill of rarer meatly-wrapped sustenance, here’s the next cut for you to sink your teeth into. After the jump 10 essential downloads — many of them bear-related — all free for the taking! Take a listen, and then leave us a comment with what you think of our selections.
1. Bear Hands – What A Drag
These Brooklyn-based post-punkers have allegedly been eschewed by the Wall Street Journal with a bearish outlook as being “part of the homosexual agenda,” according to their site. Reverse psychology at its best. Their upcoming 7”, “What A Drag” features a genius chorus, atmospheric twin guitars that taste like Cursive, and a shouty (but not overbearing) voice that echoes Band of Horses. Out February 16th from Cantora Records.
2. Velo – White Nights
Fronted by North Britons, Sie Medway-Smith and Pete Cochrane, Velo is a duo that infuses the electronic precision perfected by Depeche Mode with the bass-driven pop charm of the Police (see: pre-chorus). Big surprise that they’ve joined forces with fellow Anglopoppers, Penguin Prison and Ellie Goulding to better publicize their sound. Velo’s brand of eargasm spans many different decades, allowing for its timelessness as a white knight of a track.
3. Tycho – Coastal Brake In a very múm way, San-Fran-based artist and producer Scott Hansen crafts such a soothing listening experience that his music requires neither vocals nor any hints of overproduction — just simple instrumentation. “Coastal Brake” will make you long for an extended vacation, especially from the winded weather, and maybe a respite or two from reality after you get to the fourth minute.
4. Bear Lake – You’re Only Waiting
This song has such a catchy chord progression that it sucks you in when combined with its frantic guitar strums and invitingly smooth vocals, culminating in an adeptly layered chorus. As one of their songs “Where Do We Go?” has been aired on both One Tree Hill and Melrose Place (let’s bitch and moan in unison), it just further proves how accessible their pop ditties are.
5. Tindersticks – Black Smoke
With a smoky baritone that’s gift-wrapped with child-like cries of “black smoke,” frontman Stuart A. Staples crafts an old-fashioned solid rock song. “I went down to the river/but the river’s drowned/I went down to the river/but the river’s choked in black smoke” isn’t an environmental clarion call, as much as it is an invitation to listen to their other smoke-choked songs from their upcoming release, Falling Down A Mountain, on February 16.
6. Seabird – Don’t You Know You’re Beautiful
With their relative mainstream success and aesthetic, they remind us of OneRepublic [without the superfluous producer’s HEY (HEY)s or noticeable overproduction] with their titular repeated chorus, generic interchangeable lyrics, and altogether catchiness. This Cincinnati-grown quartet’s songs are more rock than OneRepublic but considering the success of a similar formula, Seabird is fated to reach more.
7. Total Babe – Bearbones
We’re total suckers for time signature changes and the ramping into “Bearbones” is the perfect example of that. The folky acoustic-and-synth combo serves as a fitting backdrop for the mellow, breezy vocals of 17-year old Clara Salyer. Just look at the cover of their most recent, the “Heatwave” EP. A total fucking babe.
8. Happy Birthday – Girls FM
As if the stripped-down rockability of Girls was poured into a cup of garage-psychadilettantes King Tuff and left unshaken, Kyle Thomas (also frontman of KT) found his much-needed pop outlet in the form of a once-a-year tradition (or obligation). Having just been signed to the illustrious Sub Pop, Happy Birthday is poised to release their self-titled debut on March 16.
9. Generationals – Faces in the Dark
Making great use of layered ethereal vocals, “Faces in the Dark” is still a chipper little lo-fi gem that has tinges of I’m From Barcelona and the Spinto Band, as well as the band’s previous shape as the Eames Era. “You’re making a mess of it all/And Esteban/Your sister and me/were alright” hints at the playfulness hidden within an equally shrouded title.
10. Seabear – Lion Face Boy
Former tour buddies of Sigur Rós, you can expect the same dreamy therapeutic delivery from these fellow Icelanders. With Shins-esque vocal hooks, beautifully orchestrated strings, and crooning trumpets, and finishing with a Beirut hop to their last step, “Lion Face Boy” is indie-folk at its finest. Their upcoming second, We Built the Fire, is out March 5, but until then, you can stream the album from Morr Music.