Mostly Bears, The Ed Mitchell Clinic

Mostly Bears, The Ed Mitchell Clinic

Two things struck me when I first listened to The Ed Mitchell Clinic, Mostly Bears’ debut LP. First, what’s the deal with bears?; and second, I hate the word “prog.”

Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear, Teddybears, Minus the Bear, Barenaked Ladies — I’ve had just about enough of the “bear” thing. And this word, “prog,” it bugs me. Mostly because I don’t know what it means, but also because all the reviewers who use the word can’t really come to a clear consensus about what it means, either. I swear; every single review I’ve read about Mostly Bears compares them in some way or another to the ├╝ber-progtastic hair bands The Mars Volta or Coheed and Cambria, which makes me shrug a shrug of “huh?”

Because Mostly Bears sounds nothing like either or those bands — although, to be fair, I’ve never really been able to get past the first twelve seconds of any Coheed and Cambria song, but still. Mostly Bears sound something like Arcade Fire would sound if Arcade Fire didn’t have a certain fetish for obscure instruments. Lead vocalist Brian Lopez sounds eerily similar to Win Butler, too, but that’s not such a bad thing, right?

Close your eyes and listen to “The Digital Divide,” and try (seriously, try this) to tell me it’s not Arcade Fire circa 2003. The backing screams, the subdued tambourines, the knee claps, all of it. (It kind of feels like magic.) The Arcade Fire derivations sound fresh, though, due in large part to the disparate feel of the songs. They don’t really go together in any consistent way — the album has the Radiohead-sounding “Airports” turning into the straight rock “The Pharmacist” turning into the countrified “The Stationary Divide” suddenly turning into with what sounds like a Bon Iver B-side in “Maslow’s Hierarchy.”

In short, there’s nothing prog, nothing particularly experimental, but most importantly, nothing ordinary about The Ed Mitchell Clinic. It is loud and it is grand — its sound is so full that you might end up believing that there are more than just three members in the band. The songs are sometimes tormenting, sometimes simple, and sometimes beautiful. Always, though, they work.

[Mostly Bears is playing 7/27/08 at Rudyard’s, with Over Sea, Under Stone.]
(Funzalo Records -- P.O. Box 35880, Tucson, AZ. 85740; http://www.funzalorecords.com/; Mostly Bears -- http://www.myspace.com/mostlybears)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008. Filed under Reviews.

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