[10 October 2007]
Memphis, Tennessee’s Giant Bear both laments country music yet works largely within its conventions, a paradoxical form that’s familiar to fans of Bobby Bare Jr. and the Drive-By Truckers. The band’s progressive arrangements and instrumentation are subtle, though, opting neither for a complete destruction of form nor an absolute subscription to it. For example, the band features a cello—a strange departure—but opts to do so almost as if it were a violin. In lieu of boom-chicka-boom, Giant Bear provides a rollicking expansion of danceable toe-tappers with an array of popular rhythms. Yet still, hiding in there amongst the outlying qualities, Giant Bear sneaks slide guitars and downtrodden lyrics, twang and toughness. Unfortunately for a band with this much ambition, Giant Bear’s synthesis of these elements doesn’t seem completely congeled. Still, with a taming of the extremes and the promise of an opener like “Nashville”, Giant Bear is certainly worth keeping an eye on.