Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
As a child and on into my short time as a man, it's been my tendency to view the paws of grizzly bears, black bears, polar bears and any others in the canon to be covered curiously and playfully with sticky, sticky honey, not blood. For me, they're the animals that try to rip us off of our picnic baskets at campgrounds and lovingly try to catch slippery trout in mid-stream - always to set them free, back into those chilly waters a moment after the cameras have gone dead. The whole blood thing - their paws covered in blood - doesn't register as my natural inclination. It just doesn't. Those bears don't have a mean bone in their two-ton bodies. The bear hands here aren't all that bloody either as this intro is mildly misleading, but the Brooklyn band that goes by the name of Bear Hands is capable of cutting through flesh and bone with its grip, of getting to the life points and cutting to the quick of a subject. On a new single, just out on a 7-inch on Too Pure/Rough Trade, lead singer Dylan Rau sings about the exact replica idea of getting some claws (albeit not bear claws) deep into someone else and the effect that's sent off in his casual and yet adamant and piercing portrayal of the act is one of cold-blooded sickness. He sings, "You've got them long nails/I'm dreaming of your goddamn long nails," over a poor man's, or more appropriately a working man's tropical percussion and Caribbean vibe. It's got an uncluttered and buttered up glistening to it that makes whatever those nails are getting to as they puncture the skin and bastardly sink in like steak knives out of control feel as if it's just kind of accepted like a goodbye wave. The band has recently done club dates with bands Passion Pit and Hockey, two other promising upstarts that have a considerable amount more buzz-mentom, but the songs that are of their own are as incredible, if not more so in the current moment - jutting along on some CBGB heyday, but wrapped up in a punky British Invasion sound done through a shoegazing, Paul Simon sort of makeup. Make of it what you will, but there's more than enough different sonic experiences to go around, creating a whole product that resembles slipstream, where the seams are unrecognizable because there's more to hear there. The songs and Rau's agitated vocals seem to suggest both a demoralization and a degeneration of certain matters as peace in the world is just peace in his brain in one instance and there he is traipsing off to the woods to drink his first huge bottle of beer at the gentle age of nine. There's not a lot of sunshine here, but the drab conditions that are written about are reassuring in the light that they're drawn out of, cast in the amber-colored glow that could be coming from the glow of a dripping from a honeycomb or a paw stuck in mid-air with one final decision to make.
Bear Hands Official Site
Too Pure Records
Rough Trade Records