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Grizzly Bear
Yellow House (Warp Records)

4 out of 5

Sometimes Pitchfork, attempting to prove their indie-ness, champions pretty crappy musos who define cutting edge as spoken word. Or sometimes, they’ll pick albums like this awesome dark, dramatic indie rock one as one of 2006’s best. Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear have been called “anti-folk” and given their complex sound, lack of standard verse-chorus arrangement, not to mention instruments used from recorder to clarinet to laptop, it’s pretty apt.

“Yellow House” is some black fantasy of indie rock, taking chords-vocals-drums convention and turning it inside out, running into each other. The order of the album is heavy, droning instrumentals, the atmospheric layering of instruments and vocals. Yet it’s not by any means atonal; the thick blend of guitar, vocals, horns and random percussion is going somewhere.

“Central and Remote” is a hypnotic weave of fuzzy guitar, majestic drums and vocals meandering about it all. Catchy jam “Knife” is an album standout, as much for its doo-wop melody as its sudden descent into Grizzly Bear’s trademark rock-drone sound. Most of the album’s tracks aren’t tracks for the cursory browser; it’s not exactly Killers-rock here. But take some time over it and you’ll really get into the slow chords and peripheral melodies that make this album actually beautiful. – Natasha Stokes

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