Bear Colony - Soft Eyes

Some bands try to keep things short, simple, stripped and direct. Not Arkansas music amalgam Bear Colony. Sophomore indie album Soft Eyes (November 13, Esperanza Plantation) is one densely layered, headspinning mash-up of styles and atmospherics: imaginative art/rock, big-melodied pop, grandiose post-rock instrumentalism topped off with dark dollop of unpretentious proggy touches. The recent passing of frontman Vincent Griffin's mother after a battle with cancer serves as the sobering inspiration for Soft Eyes' thematic direction, thirteen songs and instrumental bridges that dig beneath the emotional surface for reflection and, ultimately, a celebration. The production is packed tight but offers a wide-screen approach, songs drifting from ornate crescendos to softer lulls, often changing direction and sound on a dime. "Flask Retort" sounds like an 80's pop refugee (check out the bubbling electronic percussion) while "We Don't Know Harm II" kicks mightily behind a killer melody -- imagine The Beach Boys jamming with Wintersleep. Our fave "The Hysterics" is a cleverly syncopated jumble of odd time signatures, coolly serene harmonies and lavish orchestrated chamber pop.

Bear Colony - "The Hysterics" (from Soft Eyes)

Bear Colony - "Flask Retort" (from Soft Eyes)