RECORD REVIEW: She Bears – “I Found Myself Asleep” – Self-released, 2009

shebearscover She Bears is a six-piece band from Athens, Ohio who have found their voice with their new release I Found Myself Asleep. I had the opportunity to play several of their earlier shows with them in my former band Casual Future, and one thing that stuck out to me was how good they sounded then. That of course led to the next thought of how scary it would be once they started to get really good. Their new album reaches that point. It’s a great record for sure but even more importantly it accomplishes something often lost in recording: She Bears sound like they should.

More after the break….
Sometimes a band this big can be a daunting thing to experience. Stephen Pence and company have always managed to shrug that off; I Found Myself Asleep is well played and tight. Recorded at Athens’ own 3 Elliott Studio by Josh Antonuccio (who has recorded Southeast Engine’s recent efforts as well as Nostra Nova), Josh brings out the best in the Bears. Each song sweeping along and building slowly toward moments of climax, only to strip those away again and expose bridges of lush orchestration and all of these folks intertwining their instruments. She Bears wears its influences openly, mixing elements of Pavement, Modest Mouse, and several of its peers in the Athens music scene with a little extra bombast. These guys have always been a machine live, but this album has so much going on -in a good way- that it shames bands who have huge followings and recording contracts (ahem, Arcade Fire).

Pence has a way of making complex ideas using he most normal lines, such as in the opener “Victim” where he plainly states “I feel older, than I did last year”. Those lines stick with you. “Found Myself Asleep” and “What Morning Brings” are furiously driven by the drumming of Alex Eiler and stuck-in-your head riffs from Alex Douglas. The middle of the album is left to the epic “Misery” which builds slowly before launching full-on around Douglas’ beautiful noodling and Pence’s impassioned choruses. The band launches into the second-half with the poppy and polished “Winter” which is quickly becoming my personal favorite, and the barnstormer “Black Mannequins” which is carried along by frantic keys, power chords, and a bass-line taken out of 70’s southern rock and roll and thrown into an indie-rock band. And then in an almost perfect way, the album winds down with the mellow “Signals” and the old favorite “Surely” capping off a great record with a song that somehow manages to combine all of the above elements.

Go buy this album. Good job, Bears.

-Brian Koscho