This review was originally posted on The Futurist…
All the way back in 2001, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear had no idea that he would become a member of the band. He had no idea that he would be a core member of one of the up and coming musical acts in the US, that he would be opening a string of dates for Radiohead or playing on the late night talk show circuit. What he did know is that he would be making music with his friend and NYU roommate, Fred Nicolaus.
Daniel and Fred’s early collaborations consisted of a couple 7″ released put out by southern California indie Isota Records, which also released their debut full length album, The Whitey On The Moon (which was also the band name at the time) in 2003. Not long after that release, Daniel began to play full time with the Grizzly Bear boys and suddenly had little to no time for his project with Fred as the Bears became a nearly overnight success.
However, always lurking in the background was the music he innocently crafted with Fred back at NYU and the desire to return to that landscape never went away. The Whitey On The Moon album had been re-issued in the UK and was a critical hit, which prompted the duo to get back together for a new album. And during breaks from Grizzly Bear activities, Daniel and Fred began to fine tune the new album, which in parts had been written as far back as their friendships beginnings, and chose a new name as well, Department Of Eagles, which is a reference to artist Marcel Broodthaers’ Institutional Critique.
The result is a beautifully crafted folk/ pop record titled In Ear Park. Daniel and Fred combine 60’s pop melodies and vocal styles with a delicate layer of folk instrumentation to make this album really soar. (excuse the soaring eagles pun) Some songs will sound like they belong on a Grizzly Bear album, as this record does not stray too far from the music Daniel creates with his “other” band, but the lyrics are of a much more personal nature. Daniel has said that the album as a whole is in memory of his father, who passed away last year. The album’s title is the fictional name of a park and Daniel and his Dad would regularly spend time walking through. And you can feel the nostalgia throughout the album, which Daniel also said had a tone and emphasis that was too personal for a Grizzly Bear album.
So while fans of Grizzly Bear will certainly find a lot to love on In Ear Park, the personal touch that Daniel and Fred have placed on this new Department of Eagles record is bound to gather others as well.
Department Of Eagles On Conan O’Brien recently (amazingly, this was their first live performance ever!)
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