via Grizzly Bear Blog
I’ve been really torn about whether or not I should be writing this post so far in advance of Veckatimest’s official release date of May 26. But, now that a high-quality “Cheerleader” is available for legally free download, I feel like I’ve been given the green light. That being said, if you don’t give this album a listen, then you are missing out on one of the best albums of the year. I don’t want to spark a debate on whether Veckatimest is better than Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavillion (You can head over to the comments on Brooklynvegan or Stereogum for that entertainment), but this new Grizzly Bear album is particularly special to me because it’s made me reevaluate my thoughts on the way humans consume and pay for recorded music. Even if Veckatimest is not enlightening in that way for you, at the very least you will listen to some wonderful tunes.
Recently on Idolator, there was an article about how an initial reaction to music can be similar to the physical effects of love at first sight. I can’t think of a better way to describe my first reaction to Veckatimest than to say that I fell in love with it, as corny as that sounds. Even with the crappy quality of the leaked rip (that spurred a lot of douchebaggery on Twitter), I am confident in saying that I really really really like it. The album opens with “Southern Point,” such an explosive start that I could have repeatedly hit the back button for the next few days. Musically playful with interplay between the acoustic guitar and the other instruments, this song is just fun to listen to. Fun is a word that I don’t normally associate with Grizzly Bear. Beautiful, haunting, and heartbreaking are adjectives I would generally use to describe the band’s music. With the first song, Veckatimest is already changing everything that I thought I knew about the band. And, from there, the album continues to delight the senses, whether it’s with the soft harmonies of “Two Weeks” or Grizzly Bear’s signature hollow body guitar sounds in “While You Wait for the Others” and many other songs. And, thanks to this high-quality download of “Cheerleader,” legally available here, you can actually hear and appreciate the production on the album. If you’re a talented live band like Grizzly Bear, then the goal of production is to make recorded music sound as close to the real thing as possible. But, how do you capture the essence of a band in a recording?? ‘Tis a mystery that the talented Chris Taylor has solved, methinks.
Generally, Veckatimest is much sunnier and more poppy compared to previous Grizzly Bear albums. Compared to Yellow House, an album that I have grown to love, Veckatimest is much more of an immediate like. But, it has areas that take more time to appreciate, which makes for a rewarding listen. Basically, Veckatimest has the crisp first sips of Pepsi but the overall more satisfying drink of Coca-Cola. But, what makes this album and the band so good is their ability to invoke different images and emotions with their music. Maybe I’m alone in saying this, but I listened to Veckatimest with more than just my mind, all unintentionally. There is a certain musical je ne sais quoi to the album that just encourages me to let down my guard and get lost in the music. And, folks, this magical quality is the reason why I love music.
Yes, so you get that Veckatimest is a good album. But how has it changed the way I think about music consumption? Well, I first listened to this album in the same way that you probably did. I downloaded it and listened to it on my computer. While listening to the album, I talked to a couple friends online about the songs. Sound familiar? This is how I consume most new music, and you probably do too, whether you want to admit it or not. In the modern day, listening to and sharing recorded music has become too easy. What we've gained in convenience, we've lost in human interaction. When I was listening to Veckatimest for the first time, I wished that I could have shared that moment with someone in person. For me, a part of my music experience is the sharing of said experience. That's why I started this blog in the first place. But, writing things here is not the same as saying them in real-time. We still pack venues to see bands, so we can't all be lazy hermits. Still, I don't know anyone who still holds listening parties, besides the people who hosted them for the "unheard" Sufjan song. So, I have a proposition. Next time you plan on listening to an album in its entirety, invite some people over. Humanize sharing again. It doesn't even matter if you and the other people have all heard it before. I may even host a listening party in Brooklyn for Veckatimest if there's any interest...
Of course, everything I've said about the album up to here is all a premature evaluation since I haven't had a proper listen yet. I've decided to stop listening to the leaked rip, as much as I can help it, until I get the real thing on vinyl. That's right, I'm paying for music. And, I've decided to start buying vinyls of albums that I consider to be incredible so that I feel like I'm actually getting something of everlasting value when I pay for recorded music. Pre-order information for Veckatimest can be found here. It's worth it.
Post on Grizzly Bear's show at BAM with the Brooklyn Philharmonic here.
Grizzly Bear, see you at Pitchfork. Grizzly Bear play Town Hall on May 28 and May 29.
Cheerleader - Grizzly Bear
Two Weeks (Live @ Boston MFA 08.14.08) - Grizzly Bear | Alternative Link
While You Wait for the Others (Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic) - Grizzly Bear | Alternative Link