department of eaglesin ear park
  • WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 26, 2008

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Happenstance is one spooky phenomenon. Think about it. Examine the place you call home, the people you share your life with, and that which keeps you busy from day to day. Chances are these are the random results of monumental kind of coincidences. Your entire life, in fact, is the grand result of some spectacular moment slowly unfurling itself over time. Of course, you already know this, so what's my point? Well, these strange sorts of synchronisms are important. Without them, music fans most assuredly would have missed out on two of the better bands going these days.

When NYU assigned freshman Fred Nicolaus and Daniel Rossen to share a room together in 2000, the seemingly random circumstance set in to motion a glorious series of musical counter reactions. A fellow by the name of Chris Taylor just so happened to live down the hall...an absolute convenience considering he and Rossen would later form the spook-folk outfit Grizzly Bear. Of course before they did, there was Department of Eagles: the dorm room collaboration between the two roommates.

Though the project's taken a back seat these last few years, Department of Eagles recently released their second studio try, In Ear Park (4AD). Produced and engineered by Taylor, with Grizzly Bear's Chris Bear also providing the bulk of percussion, the album's a near carbon copy to DoE's sonic cousins...in both personnel, and musical palette. Like Grizzly Bear, there are hints of mystery twirling about the record's inquisitive song craft. Tracks like the acid washed pop pulse of "No One Does It Like You" and the slightly wicked show tunery of "Teenager" pack unique, ornamental keepsakes for listeners to hang on to. "Phantom Others", though certainly sounding a bit lethargic, unfolds at the kind of patient pace that will reward multiple listens with its' pivoting pieces of intimate guitar work and phantom vocal choruses. And the title to "Classical Records" provides what is probably the best indication of this covey's main source of influence.

Put ever so simply, In Ear Park is every bit ambitious and expansive as anything Grizzly Bear's brought to the table...The Yellow House included. Yes, such assessment is partially due to the fact that Department of Eagles, basically, is Grizzly Bear. But this means nothing. If listeners really want to scrape deep on in and alongside the bones of these two bands, what's really important is this hypothetical: What in god's green earth would have happened had any of these boys packed their bags for...Columbia, perhaps? Well, I suppose Vampire Weekend could have ended up sounding a little differently. - david pitz
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