The new EP by Chicago-based Man Fighting Bear (“Three Songs”) sees them sustaining the moody vein of their terrific 2015 album “Waiting” and they continue to impress. While “Waiting” had the vibe of a post-John Cale Velvet Underground mixed with King Crimson and Nick Cave, “Three Songs” reminds me more of “154”-era Wire, especially on “Sand Turns to Glass” and “Stars Align.” Equally melodic and edgy, there’s a sense of eloquent dread permeating these songs that remarkably never lapses into nihilism. “Three Songs” oftentimes takes you to the edge of despair, but always holds out hope for something better. “Three Songs” is emotional without being maudlin, realistic without being cynical, and hopeful without being naive. It’s tremendously mature and very cool. Dave says “Check it out!”
Man Fighting Bear is a hard band to categorize. In many of the songs on their 2015 album “Waiting,” you hear the influence of artists as diverse as Joy Division, Deep Purple, Brian Eno, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, King Crimson, the Rotary Connection and Leonard Cohen, sometimes within the same song. But the one band that comes to mind the most when I hear “Waiting” is the Velvet Underground, especially the legendary post-John Cale concerts they recorded at the Matrix in San Francisco that eventually were released as the classic “1969 Velvet Underground Live” album in 1974.
“Waiting” is one of those wonderfully cool albums where you can never tell where the band is going to go next. For example, the song “Into the Light” starts off as a beautiful Leonard Cohen-inspired hymn and then, approximately 2-minutes in, a wonderfully dirty-sounding organ kicks the church door open like a drunken interloper, though its inclusion is actually more seamless and organic than the opening shock would indicate. And this is why the Velvets come to mind: Man Fighting Bear blend the sacred with the profane brilliantly to produce a complex sound full of sonic surprises.
Another standout track is “Jupiter” which starts out sounding like a loose, funky Booker T. and the MG homage and then segues into a wonderfully transcendent organ driven-jam that sounds like, yes you guessed it, the climax of the Velvet’s amazing “What Goes On” and “Ocean” from the “1969 Velvet Underground Live” album.
“Breathe” sounds like Brian Eno producing a Nick Cave cover of a Joy Division song, which is musical heaven by any stretch of my imagination:
If you want to hear the rest of the album, please check it out at the link below and more importantly, if you dig what you hear, you are strongly encouraged to purchase this from iTunes or Amazon.
This is a stand-out album that is eccentric in the best sense of the word. It’s music like this that inspired me to start not only my blog, but Dave’s Strange Radio. Many kudos to Bill Beach, Chris Beach, and Erik Fagrelius for one of my favorite albums of this year.