EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally posted on Sept. 5th 2012
BY JONATHAN VALANIA It is another blazingly hot and hip mid-summer day in Brooklyn. Boomboxes, guinea tees, gold chains, water ice, open fire hydrants. It’s kind of like Do The Right Thing without the race riot. The girls walk by in their summer clothes. The boys walk by in their skinny jeans. The subway is redolent of stale urine and diesel. It’s high noon and the sun is punishing and relentless. There are many things in abundance in Brooklyn — coffee shops, craft beers, beards — but shade isn’t one of them.
Ordinarily, I would not venture outside the igloo on a day like this, but today is special. The Bear has awoken from it’s three year hibernation, grabbed the horn of plenty and started making beautiful music again. I always say there are only two things that get me out of bed:
1. A teenage riot. (Obligatory Sonic Youth reference. Look it up, son.)
2. A new Grizzly Bear album. (Actually, I never say that, but it just seems like the kind of thing that should go here.)
Said new album is called Shield, a fact Grizzly Bear kept a secret and teased well into late summer. That’s the kind of thing you do in the Internet era — tease basic facts about your release. Basic facts that would have been given away for free in the pre-Internet era will now cost you. Ironically, music is free (if you know where to look) but knowledge (which is not to be confused with information, a much baser coin) you will have to pay for with the most precious commodity in the Internet Age: your attention. And so the fan is strung along for weeks with cryptic hints on Brooklyn Vegan and Stereogum about the when and what and why of once quotidian details like cover art and album title and release date. And, hey kids, be the first on your block to Tweet/Facebook/Reddit to the world and be king of the goddamn Internet for all of 10 seconds! Whoopeee!
Determined not to have the new album leak in advance of the release date the way Veckatimest did, the band’s handlers have taken to sending out watermarked streams of the new album to journalists with a fake band name (The Toddies), fake album title (False Salmon) and, just to make matters even more confusing for the likes of me, fake song titles like “Mango Lassi” and “Toad To Nowhere.” What japes!
Upon accepting the Grizzly Bear cover story mission — which was relayed to me via mail drop on a cassette tape that played once and then self-destructed Mission Impossible-style, totally fucking up my tape deck — I followed my marching orders: Go to Brooklyn, don’t call us, we’ll call you. When the call came through the instructions were as follows: go to the underground parking deck at 110 Livingston Street and stand next to the pillar by space # 57 and a chain-smoking man in a rain coat who looks like Hal Holbrooke will tell you what to do. Turns out the first chain smoking guy in a rain coat to approach me was not an agent of Grizzly Bear, but just the sort of garden variety sick fuck perv often found lurking in the shadows of these underground parking garages, which explains why he wanted me to get into the back of a nearby Chevy Impala and give him a Cleveland Steamer. Which I did, because I’m a nice guy. Plus he reminded me of my grandfather.
OK, none of that actually happened, except for the part about the Cleveland Steamer and him reminding me of my grandfather. Even that’s not true. It was a Rusty Trombone. OK, okay. I will make a deal with you, dear reader, from here on will stop making up fantastical semi-obscene plot twists and tell you the unadorned boring-as-shit truth if you promise to stop being so fucking gullible. Deal? OK, good. Now where was I? Ah yes, Grizzly Bear. The call came in from their handlers saying I should meet the band in 10 minutes at Calexico — the restaurant, not the band, which, by the way, has paid me good money to tell you it has been voted best Mexican restaurant in New York by Zagat’s readers. MORE
From the new Grizzly Bear album, Painted Ruins, due out August 17th on RCA.