Brooklyn-based indie-rockers Bear Hands have been working the scene since they emerged in 2006 and broke out as a New York buzz band in 2007, after the release of their debut EP. Four year straight at CMJ and three years at SXSW plus opening slots for a number of influential indie artists have provided them fresh fans along the way, but the release of their first LP, Burning Bush Supper Club (Cantora Records, 2010) is the long-awaited piece solidifying the band’s locale on the indie map. Bloggers went crazy for the album’s two singles, “Crime Pays” and “What A Drag”.
Like fellow labelmates MGMT, Bear Hands formed as a result of their Wesleyan University connection. All four members graduating from the Connecticut school. TJ Orscher (drums/vocals) and Val Loper (bass/percussion) used to be members of an emo hardcore band called In Pieces. In August of 2006, Rau (vocals/guitar/keyboard), arguably one of their biggest fans, asked the two to flesh out some of his musical ideas and record a demo with him. The three rapidly realized that there was potential for a band and Bear Hands was born. Ted Feldman (guitar/percussion) joined soon after to fill out the sound. The four members of Bear Hands grew up listening to punk music and together meld those young influences into their driving, melodic, and vocal rock heavy explorations.
The band’s quirky, hook-filled new record is filled with distorted, reverb heavy guitar lines, pulsing beats, and Rou’s soulful falsetto. His gritty, strangely melodic vocals bring up comparisons to Modest Mouse’s Isaac Brock and MGMT’s Andrew VanWyngarden. Abstract lyrics also form the basis of BBSS and lend to its artfulness. “Tablasaurus”’s cryptic lines meld with layers of sound atop a hypnotic tabla sample. The album ebbs and flows between atmospheric tracks like the deeply textured “Wicksey Boxing” and the slow-building “Julien” and rock-heavy screamers like “Blood and Treasure”. “What A Drag”, the album’s standout pop track, contains solid images that tease and pull you until the song’s infectious chorus about her “goddamn long nails” forcefully hits.