The Belle Jar- Union Station
Mar 5, 2014
More than a couple band bios on Bear Hands have begun by discussing how singer-guitarist-keyboardist Dylan Rau formed the band to “spite a romantic rival.” If this really is a band spawned from angst and fury, it shows. The quartet, originally formed over three years ago, has released two EPs and toured relentlessly to support them (behind such indie heavyweights as Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Passion Pit). Their biblically non-sequitur-titled debut album, Burning Bush Supper Club, was released on November 2.
These guys are tight, alright. Rau favors repeated lyrics and melodies over constant word-vomit and the rhythm section keeps time with an excited fervor, unlike the monotonous drone of some of their contemporaries. A true rock band at heart, Bear Hands isn’t afraid to expand into pounding keyboard rhythms and dance drums on the opening track, “Crime Pays,” while Rau strikes immediately with a melodious falsetto. “Belongings” plays like an anthem to decadent youth with references to spinning 45s and burning bushes (the illegal kind).
Oh yeah, and that whole angry romance thing? Rau bulges veins in his neck when he forcibly informs listeners that he’s “dreaming of your goddamn long nails” on “What a Drag.” But the sweeter side of Bear Hands shines on tracks like “Camel Convention,” when Rau shifts back up a vocal range to yelp out his emotions, and the strangely-named-but-awesomely-executed “Julien Donkey Boy.”
Bear Hands have some surprises up their sleeve. They’ve learned from the best by touring with big-name acts and have picked up the proverbial tricks of the trade. Listen for how the sounds settle on top of each other, never fully blending but never fully disconnecting either. Anyway, enough of the vague music review. Go listen to these guys and enjoy the nuances of a headstrong young band determined to move people (even if it’s only their heads moving to the rhythm).
Listen to "What a Drag":