Saturday, September 30, 2006

Neverending Mixtape #4

Grizzly Bear - "Knife"

If you are anything like me (a ridiculously avid fan of music), you might be sick to death of music journalists/critics making lazy, unjustified references to Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys when describing some band's sound and style. There have been countless mediocre indie-pop bands with half-assed harmonies and contrived surf guitar sounds. Inevitably, some hack will throw out a reference to "The Beach Boys" or "Brian Wilson" when talking about said bands. For every instance that truly warrants the comparison, there are at least ten more that leave me scratching my head in bewilderment. My point is this: I simply will not reference Brian Wilson & Co. unless it is irrefutably valid.

This brings me to Grizzly Bear. Duh. Right? Before you jump to the faulty conclusion that the Grizzlies might just be another cookie-cutter, retro-pop band, take note that they are on Warp Records. Yeah, these guys are lablemates with Squarepusher and Autechre. If I'm making a comparison to the Brian of yore, it's to the LSD-addled, loony toon Brian that made SMiLE. Obviously, that is said with all due respect. On "Knife," the ephemeral spirit of the Beach Boys is evident in the lilting strum of the guitar, the Spectoresque production (horns and all!), and, of course, in the heavenly, reverbed harmonies. The other obvious comparison would be to their Brooklyn neighbors, Animal Collective. The measured, tumbling percussion and manipulated, alien backing vocals can't help but bring to mind Animal Collective's more recent output.

Grizzly Bear's stellar new album, Yellow House, is chock-full of highlights. However, "Knife" is probably the stand-out track; and one of the year's best songs by any measure.

Below, I've attached a YouTube clip of Grizzly Bear performing an impromptu, a capella version of "Knife" on the streets of France.