I literally stumbled upon the group Bear in Heaven at one of the many free day time shows at SXSW. The band comes from Brooklyn, NY and have been around since 2003, with their debut album, Red Bloom of the Boom out in 2007. Yet, I am just hearing them for the first time now. I have to say that I really dug them. I don’t mean to sound like a hippie, but I would highly recommend them. I can’t tell you all the songs they played that day, but they have two albums to choose from. Their song, “Lovesick Teenagers” from their new album Beast Rest Forth Mouth has to be my favorite so far.
I originally had plans to pass through this venue to get to my next adventure, but when I heard Jon Philpot leading the songs with his emotional melodic voice and being backed by Joe Stickney with the laid back beats, plus the prominent use of synth, I knew I had found my place. They seem to have an influence in jazz but with that twist of synth mixed in. Their songs feature psychedelic rock arranging and electronica influences. It would be easy to say that Jon can sing like Brandon Flowers from The Killers but with more emotion and fans might enjoy Bear In Heaven. I would also recommend Bear In Heaven if you are fans of Radiohead (Kid A album), Animal Collective, or late eighties synth bands like Huey Lewis and the News, although, these guys take themselves more seriously.
However there are plenty of songs that are absent of vocals and focus on the talent at hand. There were moments that felt like they were channeling the era of the seventies, or the atmospheric sounds from the film, 2001 A Space Odyssey. I would be confident in saying that most people that made up the crowd probably had way too much fun the night before. When you’re at SXSW, however, there is no rest for the weary, so we seek hangover bands. Bear In Heaven is the perfect antidote. The group seemed very comfortable on stage just focusing on the music, rather than jumping around on stage. They still seemed to enjoy themselves though, as did the crowd. With the gentle rock of the crowd’s shoulder’s waving from side to side, it wasn’t seasickness, it was the crowd finding their mojo that would carry them through the rest of the grueling day. If you get a chance to see Bear In Heaven live, do not pass it up. Until then, check out their albums: Red Bloom of the Boom and Beast Rest Forth Mouth.
You can check out some of their songs on their Myspace page here:
I give Bear In Heaven 4 “bloody marys” out of 5.
by Angela Davis
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