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Bear in Heaven, Not Just Another Brooklyn Indie Band

By Michele Lenni in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 28, 2010 8:20PM

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Let's face it, this past summer was a hot one. Probably the most sweltering summers one we've had in a long time; so when Chicagoist covered The 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival we left most nights crazy dirty and sweaty only to retreat to our air-conditioned bedrooms instead of a late-night, booze-drenched after show. [Ed. note: Some of us attended the after shows!] One after-show that we particularly regretted missing was one of our favorite artists to come out of the art-rock Brooklyn scene: Bear in Heaven.

Why do we love yet another band to garner the ever-so-elusive approval of a music site known for what some have deemed haughty and pretentious? Well, for starters, they write good songs. Though their second album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, has really nothing all that new to offer, but it's really solid. The band's murky, stark and sparse arrangements present a striking background that allows founder Jon Philpot's simple, clear-toned vocals to careen into strong anthem-like choruses with heavy, swelling guitars.

Another component that sets these guys apart from other Brooklyn bands like MGMT, Yeasayer or Grizzly Bear is the persuasive percussion provided by drummer Joe Stickney. Stickney's placement of each beat seems to pierce through the surrounding darkened sound-scapes like a beacon in the night. Rather than putting his sounds front and center, Stickney is content to lie between each phrase, accentuating the sound rather than dominating it. Songs like "Lovesick Teenagers," "Wholehearted Mess" and "Casual Goodbye" have all of the elements of a great pop songs: a strong melody, catchy choruses and a driving beat. The difference is these songs leave you more haunted than happy, more blissed out than tuned in. Though the Brooklyn scene seems almost bloated these days with the numerous amount of musical acts streaming from its burrows like rats from a flooded sewer, we feel that Bear in Heaven is worth checking out, if for no other reason than good music, no matter where it's from, is hard to come by.

Bear in Heaven performs tomorrow, October 29, at Lincoln Hall, 2424 N Lincoln, 10 p.m., $17, 18+