Cleaning out the disc bin on my desk, the Sendak-like pen-and-ink critters on Da Bears’ Classics/Cobra caught my eye. The collection was recorded from 2006 through ought eight. Better late than never, eh? And never having heard this happy set would’ve sucked.
The piano-pop band fans out behind songsmith-singer-multi-instrumentalist Ryan Solomon who possesses Nick Diamonds’s (Unicorns/Islands) odd-pop playfulness and Wayne Coyne’s (Flaming Lips) anything-goes bravado. Solomon pens and performs in color, skipping down the street on the sunnier side of Pavement, with flashes of guitar grit that’d make even Malkmus grin.
My too-twee-for-me needle jumped with the leading guitar figure of the opening title track and got pinned in the red by synth bounce and the effete effect of Solomon’s high-end voice. By the skronky guitar break, however, Solomon toned it down and I was hooked to be charmed by the trumpet run behind “Regal Beagle,” a slacker towhead’s sunny SoCal on “Surf Lord,” a send-up of “Lindsey Lohan” (“You’re a child, just a little child”), the repeating chorus “I don’t wanna talk about it” on “Sword in Hand,” a hook-heavy “Life in Hell,” even precious duet “Ever Since I Was Young,” all to the central sonic theme of this record — propulsion.
Despite some K-tel Casio kookiness, which lets air out of a few tracks, you can’t not link da head Bear’s similarity to the abovementioned indie-rock vets (primarily and uncannily, Diamonds’s voice on opus Return to the Sea).
Classics is a sparkling summer set for sun-pop enthusiasts.
Album: Classics Never Die/Cowardly Cobra (2008)
Artist: Da Bears
Label: Grizzly Records
Where available/price: grizzlyrecords.net, $8; myspace.com/dabears, $8
Songs: 1) Classics Never Die 2) Regal Beagle 3) Lindsey Lohan 4) Sword in Hand 5) Surf Lord 6) Fall in Love with Me 7) Life in Hell 8) Ever Since I Was Young 9) Dinos 10) Holiday
Band: Ryan Solomon, with E.J. Binns, Jake White, Garrett Irving, Mike “Curly” Giuliana, Chelsea Hernandez, and others