Bear Lake
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Bear Lake

Troy, Michigan, United States

Troy, Michigan, United States
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"Review - If You Were Me (4.5 stars)"

If you are a fan of One Tree Hill or Bones – God knows there are many, many of you out there – you’ve probably already heard Bear Lake. The Michigan sextet produces a surging, New Wave-influenced brand of indie pop that hits that perfect place between sweetness and melancholy, and subsequently makes great fodder for the melodrama of network television. But If You Were Me, the group’s stellar new album, works better as a complete set of music listened to from beginning to end.



The sample swipes that open the record burst into the Summery, anthemic “It’s Over,” which rests its sing-along chorus on top of ultra-compressed guitar. The lead vocals from Jon Rice and harmonies from Matt Hines, Keith May and Brian Kwasnik shine in the early display. “Scissors,” the groovy, emphatic second track, shows a funkier side of the group. Rice’s falsetto stands out.



“Jenny” is another highlight track. It rests on a haunting piano refrain. Jessica Hernandez comes in for a memorable guest spot on the beautiful slower cut “High on the Road.” The acoustic guitar in the song is reminiscent of Wilco. Pensive tones wear well on the group, as further proven by the keyboard-dominated “Only War” and vaguely U2-esque title track.



Not every song is a success. “Breaking Me Down” and “We Are” have weak choruses and trend a bit too far into dreaded pop-punk territory. The band has deeper reservoirs than this, like those shown in the reflective “We Were the Young,” which holds a sprightly melody not far removed from The Shins.



Unfortunately, the final stretch of songs feels less inspired than the majority of what comes before. Neither the folkish “Sad Bastard” or live filler “Tonight is on Your Side” make much of an impression. Luckily there’s the string-accented, cerebral epic “1810” to clear the deck in the closing slot. It reaffirms the impression the rest of If You Were Me leaves, which is that Bear Lake is a young band with the chops and ambition to record something great. They’re not there yet, but this music should gain them a substantial audience until they fully arrive.



Final Grade: ****½ (out of five) - Jack Frink - Atlas Jams


"Living in the Moment: Bear Lake bucks the odds and redefines indie on a winning new album"

Living in the moment
Bear Lake bucks the odds and redefines indie on a winning new album

The men of Bear Lake are laid-back, easy-to-talk-to dudes who happen to be extremely musically driven, which makes for an interesting little dichotomy. The quartet is an indie rock band, to be sure, but describing them isn't easy, mostly because they've pushed themselves forward with each of their three albums. Mellow, but able to kick hard when needed, the band of multi-instrumentalists employs electronic gadgetry and acoustic instruments in equal measure. The music's about writing what they feel, they say. It's also about living in reality. You can hear it in their new and beautifully disparate record, If You Were Me, which is out Oct. 25.

We "never thought about what we're going to sound like," drummer Steve Stetson says. "Creating on the spot and being into the moment ... We often just start with beats."

I meet with four of the five Lakes (keyboardist and percussionist Erik Pederson resides in Chicago) at Royal Oak's Rust Belt Studios, where the band recorded its three, self-released albums with Eric Hoegemeyer and Al Sutton. (A few weeks ago, I interviewed Hoegemeyer in his guise as drummer with a reunited Charm Farm. Hoegemeyer loves this band, has helped guide them from day one.)

Bear Lake is completed by Jon Rice (vocals, guitar), Keith May (bass) and Brian Kwasnik (keys). They morphed from a group of pals sitting around and writing songs at, yes, Bear Lake. "It all started at a cabin that Keith's family owns," Stetson says. "We wrote the [debut] Catch the Sun album there on the lake, and we kind of ran with that name and have been pushing it ever since."

But there have been some casualties since the band coalesced four years ago as sextet; among those who came and went include the recently wed singer and guitarist Matt Hines.

The funny thing about the debut album is it got recorded only because Stetson scored some free, or at least on-the-cheap, studio time at Rust Belt because he was an intern here.

The band guys, all in their mid-20s, basically make music their full-time gig, though Pederson runs a landscaping business over in Chi-town. The geography problem isn't easy, but they make it work.

Just hanging with them it's easy to detect a real chemistry, it's brotherhood-y and obvious they've been friends since childhood. They sound like a group of friends who happen to play music, not the other way around. There's a difference. And just watching them on stage it's easy to detect that exact chemistry. Why else would their following be swelling along the East Coast, where the band often tours? Besides, Bear Lake's hometown draw has always been at least respectable, even on off nights.

Like a proper band, they get behind their din: "I've been noticing performances lately," Rice says. "If a person's heart is behind it, that's enough to keep attention more than the production. If you can feel that the person is giving everything they've got, that's the most important thing. That's what we're really focused on right now."

All members write songs — and not just on their own particular instrument. "The more you hang around us, the more you can hear our distinct personalities coming out in the music," Stetson says. "We practice at a barn on Brian's property out in Rochester. We sit down with a guitar and one day it'll sound different the next. There's no main lyricist, and we all write parts for different instruments.

"We rarely use a song that's been written by one person," May adds. "The songs start to blossom when we all put ideas on top of it."

Their influences are as disparate as pop gets. May's into moody prog, referencing the Arcade Fire and Pink Floyd. Rice says he's about Stevie Wonder, Hendrix, plus the Strokes and the Velvet Underground, but says, "I'll listen to nothing but Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen for a month, and then I won't listen to it again for two years." Stetson teaches at Rochester's School of Rock, and he's been learning a lot of Maiden and Priest recently — you know, for the kids. He's also into the grooves of Prince and Michael Jackson. Kwasnik talks up Ra Ra Riot and A Tribe Called Quest. A mixed bag, then.

Bear Lake's music is clean as hell, well-produced and, in fact, marketable, traits not always associated with Detroit-area purists and indie bands. Does the band feel like outsiders? No, they say.

"We're all from here, and we record here in Royal Oak," Stetson says. "We're definitely a Detroit band."

But, Stetson adds, the city is as diverse as it is spread out. "Everyone's hoping for the venues to play where people will come out. In Chicago, it's easy to jump in a cab and you're there. Here, even if you're going to a show in Detroit and you live in Royal Oak, you're driving. That's not to say you have to drink ... you have that to worry about."

And the diversity?

"We shared a bill with Lettercamp and there was enough similarity," Rice says. "People that went to that show saw us, Lettercamp, Bar of Gold, Jessica Hernandez, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. That's a big list and everyone's unique, but I think everyone does fit into a 'Detroit scene'."

"I think the outside view of Detroit is still that dirty garage rock," May concludes. "Inside, it's not that but when you go out of town people still expect that dirty sound."

Not dirty? OK, pop quiz time for Mr. May? Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. Who would you marry, kill and fuck.

"Oh, shit," May says. "I'd have to say fuck Palin, kill Bachmann, marry Clinton. I'm not crazy about any of them though."

The truth is, the Bear Lake boys are as "Detroit" as anyone else out there. Get Kwasnik talking about his beloved Tigers and Lions, and he's a pig in filth. "The Tigers' playoff chances are good," he goes on. "It depends who they play. Verlander and Fister can match up against any two. It's gonna be tough. If we had to play Boston in the first series, I don't know. A lot better than I would have told you three weeks ago. I hope they're not peaking too early. As for the Lions, it's weird watching these talented players and believing it's the Lions. I've seen them find every possible way to blow a game over the years. 10-6 is my prediction."

To bring the conversation back around, I ask the dudes where they see themselves in a decade. They say they'll be together, creating music.

"I love that we're growing," Stetson says, oblivious to the green glow of optimism. "It's only been a handful of years that we've been focusing. We're happy with where we're going. As soon as we're not, that'll be it for me but I don't see that happening. I think in ten years we'll be putting out some great shit."



If You Were Me drops Oct. 25.

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"A&A Review - Bear Lake"

If You Were Me
(self-released)

Most folks who try on techno-freakpop tend to either get too technical or too freaky. Even the Flaming Lips, venerable masters of this sound, lost it with Embryonic. Which is why it's so refreshing to hear Bear Lake.

The songs are sophisticated and deftly layered. But they're all based on simple, easily-identifiable grooves. Most importantly, they're fun.

Fun is utterly underrated in music. Bands trip all over themselves to create ponderous, overbearing albums. Forget that. Bear Lake shows that it is quite possible to show off some serious playing and compositional chops without succumbing to the dread "I'm too serious for my pants" disease.

Freaky? Sure. Electronic-laden? Sometimes. But these songs sing, and they bound from the speakers with verve. Lovely stuff that brings a smile or two a minute. This one will burble its way to your heart in no time flat. - Aiding & Abetting - Jon Worley


"Bear Lake at Rubble's"

omorrow marks the return of Detroit-area rock/pop favorite, Bear Lake, to Rubble’s Bar downtown Mount Pleasant. The six-piece assortment is promoting their third album, If You Were Me, with the help of Lansing indie-rockers Elliot Street Lunatic, and Chicago natives, Ben Keeler and the 500 Club.

September has been an especially busy month for Bear Lake, who after headlining the Ford Focus Stage at Detroit’s Arts, Beats & Eats – kicked out jams for MI Fest’s pre-party, hosted by 93.9 The River at Cheli’s Chili Bar, downtown Detroit. The band will enjoy the intimate atmosphere of Rubble’s before taking the stage at Brooklyn, Michigan’s first MI Fest (headlined by Jack White’s Raconteurs, and Sheryl Crow) Saturday, September 17.

Jon Rice, Bear Lake’s electric guitar and vocal stylist, is thrilled to be involved with MI Fest’s state-wide buzz.

“You know it’s at Michigan Speedway, but instead of race cars zipping around the track, there’s going to be people, and I’m sure artwork, obviously music – and then camping at night.The weather’s supposed to be great, and you know September – it’s a perfect time for something like this.” (Read more about the first annual MI Fest)

Bear Lake will shake Rubble’s beginning at 10:00pm – don’t miss this chance to see a big name on a small stage.

“I think there is a desire in Mount Pleasant to go out and see music, original music – that there isn’t necessarily in Ann Arbor, or East Lansing. The area has a vibe to it, and a certain caliber of people that we really like, and that we’re excited to come and play for,” said Rice.

Wow, what a compliment!

The show is $5 21+, $10 18+. (Rubble’s only secures 12 minor entries per show – so if you’re not 21, get your tickets early!) - Grand Central Magazine - Paul Young


"MI Fest brings local, national musical talent to speedway"

Michigan’s Irish Hills are rocked by the sound of NASCAR engines throughout the summer.

Now the sounds of rock ’n’ roll are coming to the Michigan International Speedway.

The inaugural MI Fest, taking place Sept. 17, on the southeast portion of the race course’s grounds in Brooklyn, features 25 acts playing for nearly 12 hours on three stages, along with a marketplace that

features Michigan food and beverage products, as well as artists and photographers who will display and sell their work. It will be a high-volume musical celebration of the mitten, which is exactly what MIS and

the Farmington Hills-based TGIF Entertainment Group had in mind when they came up with the idea.

“It’s a unique festival,” notes TGIF’s George Gikas, who’s hoping for a first-year crowd of about 15,000.

“It really lets us celebrate our musical lineage, which is one of the most unique industries in our state.

You can’t deny that beyond automotive, everybody knows Detroit and the state for the music it’s produced for the world.”

And, Gikas adds, Michigan’s reputation for “the great outdoors” makes a the MIS environs, the largest registered campground in the state, “a perfect setting” for the event.

“I’m proud to be part of it, being I’m a Michigander (and) been here all my life,” says Mark Farner, the former Grand Funk Railroad frontman who will perform with his own band at MI Fest. “I’m proud to be involved with it, most because it’s a Michigan festival. I know we’re gonna go down there and knock ’em live, dude.”

Farner is part of a bill that showcases both Michigan’s musical heritage — with Mitch Ryder, the Rockets, the Romantics, Alto Reed’s Allstars, the Howling Diablos and Jill Jack — as well as up-and-comers such as Ty Stone & the Truth, Jessica Hernandez, Bear Lake, the Juliets, Whitey Morgan & the 78’s and the Ben Daniels Band. Actor/singer-songwriter Jeff Daniels is part of the bill, while Detroit native and former White Stripes principal Jack White reactivated the Raconteurs, who have been dormant since 2008, for the festival and created a special stage for his Third Man Records label that will feature the Thornbills and rapper Black Milk.

White’s Third Man Rolling Record Store will also be on site selling, among other things, “Leck Mich Im Arsch,” his new single collaboration with Insane Clown Posse.

Organizers did not close the borders for the MI Fest, however. Sheryl Crow, who spent the summer on tour with Kid Rock, and country singer Ronnie Dunn, in the midst of his first solo tour after splitting from

partner Kix Brooks, brings a bit more national headliner sizzle to the festival.

“We are terming this as a multigenerational, multigenre type of event,” TGIF’s Gikas explains. “We don’t want it to be one type of music or one demographic. I think we’ve got a great blend between the ones that started it all and the ones that are carrying the torch.”

Inspired by the 1970 Goose Lake Festival — a three-day, Woodstock-like affair in Leoni Township — TGIF has been plotting a Michigan music festival for more than a year, says Gikas. After successful

staging of the Alto Reed Allstar Thanksgiving Celebration benefit at the Fillmore Detroit in November, the company began talking to MIS about a wine festival, which in turn led to discussions about developing “a music environment” similar to those that other NASCAR tracks around the country have been instituting.

“The instant inclination was, ‘Let’s do it inside the race track,’” Gikas recalls. “Then we drove around the property ... and we all fell in love with this natural setting, a bowl-shaped amphitheater with trees and ponds and everything else. We felt like we could do a great festival in this area.”

MI Fest attendees will be able to camp at the site on Friday and Saturday nights, and Gikas says that while the majority of advance tickets have been purchased in Michigan, the festival is also luring fans from throughout the Midwest as well as New York, California, Kentucky and even England. He also suspects that some potential attendees are waiting for weather forecasts before buying their tickets, although Gikas says organizers carefully researched weather patterns and determined “we won’t have any more chance of severe weather” in mid-September than in July or August.

As for booking, Gikas acknowledges the MI Fest team did approach “all the big-name touring artists that represent our state from a headliner perspective,” such as Bob Seger and Kid Rock, but “not everyone

was available.” (There are hopes, of course, that Rock will join Sheryl Crow for a song or two.)

With Jack White, however, MI Fest hit pay dirt.

“We knew there was no touring going on for Jack or any of his bands,” Gikas notes. “We knew the White Stripes had basically been mothballed, so we assumed if Jack did perform it would be with the Dead Weather. When they came back and said, ‘We’d like to have the Raconteurs perform,’ that was a huge surprise.

“And then after that we talked about creation of a Third Man scenario, since they have some Michigan-based artists on their roster, and that grew into its own Third Man stage and then the Rolling Record Store.”

ICP, meanwhile, has offered to come out to Brooklyn to perform “Leck Mich Im Arsch” with JEFF The Brotherhood, the Third Man group it recorded the song with. “We put in a call (to Third Man) and told

them we’re open to do anything,” says ICP’s Violent J (nee Joe Bruce). “If they wanted to do something, we’d be all for it.” J adds that he’d like to check out the MIS grounds as a possible future location for the

Gathering of the Juggalos, ICP’s annual fan festival in August.

Other MI Fest performers have their own big plans for the festival. The Howling Diablos, or instance, are still riding the momentum from their new album, “Ultra Sonic Gas Can,” while the Rockets plan to play

more of the new songs they’ve been working on since resurrecting the group name last year. And Luis Resto, the former Was (Not Was) guitarist and currently a keyboard player in Eminem’s live band, isn’t

on the festival bill but is playing a nearby show on Friday night at Jerry’s Pub in Brooklyn.

Mitch Ryder, a Goose Lake veteran who’s also performed at MIS before, says he and his band “plan on doing a different show than we normally do,” including rarities such as “Long Neck Goose” from the 1971

“Detroit” album and some of the songs from his European-only releases.

“I don’t know what the reaction is going to be,” Ryder confesses. “I’ve always been hesitant to play that material because people over here don’t know it, but (MI Fest) seems like an opportunity to do

something a little different and special. So we’ll just run it out and see what happens.”

Ryder is also going to make something of a run at the Rockets, which was founded by his former Detroit Wheels bandmates Johnny “Bee” Badanjek and Jim McCarty.

“I’m always gonna be competitive,” Ryder says. “I did apply for that job (with the Rockets) but didn’t get it. My band’s in good shape, and I’m not afraid of anybody else, but (the Rockets) being there adds a

little fuel for me.”

For the youthful Detroit sextet Bear Lake — which released its debut album, “If You Were Me,” this year — being part of MI Fest is a chance to claim its own corner in Michigan’s musical lineage. “We look at a

lot of these bands that are playing as just the best of the best, so it’s cool to be part of that,” says the group’s Jon Rice. “It’s really kind of humbling. I’m not sure what to expect, but obviously a good time and some awesome music.”

Beyond the music, legendary Detroit artist Mark Arminski has curated an Artist Gallery for MI Fest that will include work by Carl Lundgren, Stanley Mouse and the Rockets’ Badanjek, as well as by photographers such as Tom Weschler, Steve Galli and Leni Sinclair. Familiar food names such as the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, SoL Garden, El Guapo and Bob Evans will be selling food, while the Walker Tavern Farmer’s Market will offer fresh produce and baked goods. A variety of Michigan merchandisers will hawk music-related goods and other products as well.

And while Gikas and company are geared up for the MI Fest, he says they’re “already talking about next year” and even beyond. TGIF has a 4-year deal with MIS for future festivals, and organizers hope that

the 2012 edition will be “at least two days” long with, of course, even more people trekking to the site. “We intend to grow this,” Gikas says. “This is just the first year. We want this to be a longterm event,

something that people will expect and look forward to every year.” - Gary Graff - Daily Tribune


"Ear Candy - Bear Lake"

If You Were Me
by Johnny Strabler
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Bear Lake Music LLC

The throw-back poppy rock sound will never get old (it's something we say all the time, but it's been true since the early '90s). Maybe one day, our kids will be like "What is this shit you used to listen to, Dad?" But I won't care what anyone says then either! This is an album full of hits. Catchy, hook-heavy, gentle rock, poppy hits. At times reminiscent of America (the band, not our beloved country), Neil Young and Fastball (yes, I just made that comparison), this is a great album for all occasions. You've likely heard it as a TV soundtrack, and it would work equally well at a cocktail party. — JOHNNY STRABLER

Worth a listen: "Scissors" - Real Detroit Weekly - Johnny Strabler


"Bear Lake Cuts Through Genres for Tremendous Power Pop"

Bear Lake is a mix of great pop, rock, soul, R&B, and even some clear punk influences. (Curious? See below). This band has been compared to Dale Earnhart Jr. Jr., and The Shins; there’s some ELO, and SSLYBY in there too.

Bear Lake combines the terrific vocal flair of Matt Hines (backing harmonies come from most of the band) with guitars, piano/organ, and tight, pounding bass/drum combos. They’ve put out three full discs since 2007, all filled with gems, all with enough diversity to keep the listener into the album, but enough similarity to let you know that it’s still the same band. We’ve included one from each of their three discs: Catch the Sun, Places on the Side, and If You Were Me.

Bear Lake is a Detroit six piece that features singer Matt Hines, organist Erik Pederson, drummer Steve Stetson, guitarist Jon Rice, pianist Brian Kwasnik, and bassist Keith May: all lifelong friends who have been writing original songs and playing music together since grade school. They formed up as a band in 2007 (originally an eight-piece, two members got married and left the group) with each member bringing in their own unique style and influences. They combine to produce an amazing, cohesive sound that takes a slightly different turn on each album.

Bear Lake’s third album If You Were Me was released in May, fully solidifying their sound. Great tune after great tune - check it out to the right. - In Your Speakers


""If You Were Me" - Bear Lake's 3rd Album Rocks In Style"

Detroit, Michigan’s Bear Lake released their 3rd album entitled “If You Were Me”. The album of 12 songs comes in an explicit and non-explicit version which doesn’t really seem all that necessary. It’s not like they have the potty mouth of rappers or anything.

What they do have is a set of tunes that sit into a nice groove, perfect for a chilled out mood. Most of the tunes are fairly simple in design however they include some catchy melodies and interesting lyrics that ride high in the spectrum of sound. Their latest album could be categorized as rock/pop that borderlines on folk rock in “If You Were Me”.

“Scissors” is a song about cutting ties with the doldrums of working life and plotting one’s own course what ever the risk. “When we wrote this song, we were all dealing with the question of whether to risk it all and pursue a music career, or to keep the typical 9 to 5 crap jobs which provide money but little happiness,” says Jon Rice, lead guitarist, and vocalist. “Scissors” is one of the strongest songs on the album and is definitely worth a listen. – Listen to “Scissors“

Download “If You Were Me” from Amazon.com or iTunes.

Other songs of note on the album include “Breaking Me Down”, “It’s Over”, “High on the Road” and “If You Were Me”. Few bands dare publish their song lyrics (usually for good reason) but Bear Lake does to give us further incite into their song writing capabilities. - Evan Rexx


"Faronheit Recommended Downloads 8/8/11"

What a weekend. If you weren’t at Lollapalooza to experience the wild music and weather, it was something to behold. I’ve been doing some day-by-day recaps and will have a full wrap-up tomorrow, but at this point I’m very much in recovery mode. Spending 3 days on your feet is physically taxing enough, but to do it with a couple torrential downpours and extremely muddy conditions only makes it worse. If you went, I hope you had a great time. If you missed it, I hope you had the chance to watch a little bit of the live stream online. If you did neither, well, maybe next time. Let’s get to today’s Pick Your Poison. I can recommend tracks today from Bear Lake, Evangelista, Gold Beach, The Hazey Janes, The Lions and Sleepy Vikings, as remixed by Her Space HOliday. In the Soundcloud section, be sure to stream songs from Cat Martino (which features Sufjan Stevens on backing vocals), along with Twin Shadow’s remix of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.

Baby Baby – aka $20

Baby Monster – The Fear of Charlie Sunrise (AlunaGeorge Remix)

Bear Lake – Scissors

Evangelista – Artificial Lamb

Fallulah – I Lay My Head (Shook Remix)

Gold Beach – Diving Bell

The Hazey Janes – Carmelite

HeavyFeet – I Will

The Lions – Syd…Is A Serial Killer

MF/MB/ – The Grand Chase

Nickles – Dat Diesel

Saintseneca – Acid Rain

Sandro Perri – Love and Light

Siskiyou – Twigs and Stones

Sleepy Vikings – Calm (Peace & Quiet Remix by Her Space Holiday)

Trey Brown – At Midnight
Trey Brown – Desert Mama - Faronheit


"Faronheit Recommendations"

Today’s Tuesday, and that means it’s new album release day. I’m not going to go into what I recommend and what I don’t, I’m just going to make mention of a few records that are worth paying attention to – good or bad. I’ve featured a few of these bands in previous editions of Pick Your Poison as well, so use the search bar on the right if you’d like to hear some mp3s from them. Tune your ears to records from Botany, The Bottle Rockets, Braid, Canon Blue, Cut Off Your Hands, Fool’s Gold, Her Space Holiday, Mister Heavenly, Natalia Kills, Sundress, Tropics, Veronica Falls, The War on Drugs and Yellow Ostrich. A few of those artists actually have mp3s in today’s edition of Pick Your Poison as well. Which is why I’ll recommend tracks from Annie Crane, Ariel Abshire, Bear Lake, The Clap, Craig Wedren, Grace Jones, Maluca & Party Squad, Sundress, and Chicago’s own Word and Number. Talking specifically about remix mp3s, Chromeo’s remix of Mayer Hawthorne is pretty good, as is Botany’s remix of Tropics.

Annie Crane – Copenhagen Heart

Ariel Abshire – Essex

Bare Wires – Cheap Perfume

Bear Lake – Breaking Me Down

The Clap – Lucy 2

Craig Wedren – Cupid (m4a)

Grace Jones – Well Well Well Dub

Little Fish – Wonderful

Maluca & Party Squad – Lola

Mayer Hawthorne – A Long Time (Chromeo Remix)

Rocketship Park – Stuck With Me

Shitty/Awesome – Hang Up

Sundress – Thirteen

Tropics – Mouves (Botany Remix)

Vadoinmessico – Marzia

Word and Number – The Reds
Word and Number – Juughl - Faronheit


"WRUV Review - Bear Lake"

Bear Lake seem equally possessed by McCartney as they are by Gibbard (Death Cab), equally blending pared-back piano/acoustic folk jaunts with the arm-raising/eye-closing/lip-synching ingratiation of arena-rock anthems - and equally flexing knacks for charting out ear-worm melodies as they are at dressing their soundscapes with enough atmospheric intrigue so as to squelch the saccharine and give the theatric ardor of the spacey-pedal-howled tones enough room to breath out their star-gazer resonance.
PLAY: 1, 2, 9, 10 - slomotron


"Groop Of The Day - Bear Lake"

Folky influences and all-around great songwriting come together with ease, providing something smooth and distinguished. The familiar collides with the revolutionary; the morals of old adopt the frivolous future; nature embraces the supernatural. In terms of content, Bear Lake has the obvious talent and ability to produce great music, but the contextual sincerity that supports that outward expression of youth and truth is what makes If You Were Me an accomplished entity.

An almost hauntingly intimate voice cuts through pungent strums and punchy drums as unique synth/key tones ring out and seem to float along just a little above eye/ear-level. Certain textural combinations bring a fair amount of psych-esque vibes along with them, making for deeply interesting tracks and an album that is very easy to listen to time and time again. Good luck trying to remain seated, as I noticed some unsettling anticipation and the desire to get up and move around. The beats just seem to do that to you, as if each song is the beginning of the "turning point" in a motion picture, or perhaps just one that would be ideal with which to begin your day. - Kyle Patrick - GroopEase


"August 2011 - Album of the Month - This One You Need to Own"

THE DETROIT SUBURBS, MICHIGAN - Only once or twice a year do I hear a new album that grabs me like the one from today's spotlight band. If You Were Me from Bear Lake is, out of the box, absolutely one of the best new records of 2011. Family and personal dynamics, love & loss, death and addiction are all discussed here. There are few small ideas on what may come off as a spectacular pop album - so digest how you will. Just know that beneath the surface of these rolling waves there is real depth. How ironic that the first song on the album is, "It's Over" ? A new Beginning maybe - there's so much here to like!

Bear Lake is Matt Hines, Jon Rice, Keith May, Brian Kwasnik, Erik Pederson and Stephen Stetson - a lot who have been playing together now since Middle School - and it shows mostly in the harmonies and in their timing on this album's twelve songs. The keyboards (Kwasnik) and percussion (Stetson & Pederson) give Bear Lake's songs shape and help power them through the waveforms created by the vocals and guitars (Hines, Rice, May) in this record. I've listened to this one straight through several times in the last week. All in all, this is probably one of the top new bands in the country in 2011. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see this band go very, very far...
- Ryan's Smashing Life


"Bear Lake opens for Ingram Hill"

Michigan's indie pop rock sextet, Bear Lake, will bring their well-crafted, diverse collection of songs to The Pike Room when they join Memphis rock-trio Ingram Hill on Friday, September 16.

Bear Lake's six members pride themselves on their fun stage show which seeks to engage the audience with the personal messages often found in their songs. Even from the stage, it's Bear Lake's goal to share these themes and develop a personal relationship with their audience. The sextet has toured most of the major cities on the east side of the country and has shared the bill with Bedouin Soundclash, Gin Blossoms, Rick Springfield, The Suckers, The Rescues, Mice Parade, Sufjan Stevens, Neon Trees, Dale Earnhardt, Jr Jr, Jessica Hernandez, and many others.

The highly anticipated release of the upcoming If You Were Me has already met fans with much satisfaction and has them begging for more Bear Lake. Radio has taken a liking to the band, as Bear Lake debuted at number 16 on the CMJ Adds chart on July 5, 2011, and within three weeks has landed at number 127 on the CMJ top 200, a ranking that is sure to increase. Rachel May of the Detroit Free Press calls the album "captivating from the first song to the last," a true compliment from an accomplished musician and journalist. - MI2N.com


"Risking It All For Rock, Bear Lake Releases Scissors"

Is it worth the risk? Rochester, Michigan's indie pop rock sextet, Bear Lake thinks it is. Their latest song, "Scissors," from the forthcoming If You Were Me, deals with the merits of leaving the dreaded day job to pursue music full time. "When we wrote this song, we were all dealing with the question of whether to risk it all and pursue a music career, or to keep the typical 9 to 5 crap jobs which provide money but little happiness," says Jon Rice, lead guitarist, and vocalist. "We have since made the plunge into full time music, and we couldn't be happier about it. Every time I listen to the song now, it becomes an affirmation that we made the right decision". "Scissors," with its compelling synth intro, driving drums and perfectly pop falsetto vocals, is proof enough that Bear Lake made the right decision. In case you need more, their 127 spot on the CMJ Top 200, song placements in "One Tree Hill", "Bones", "Melrose Place", and Josh Radnor's Happythankyoumoreplease, and upcoming gigs with The Raconteurs, Sheryl Crow, and Bedouin Soundclash should suffice...for now. Take the plunge with Bear Lake's "Scissors" now: http://glgpub.com/file_download/216/Bear-Lake-Scissors.mp3

The highly anticipated release of If You Were Me has already met fans with much satisfaction and has them begging for more Bear Lake. Radio has taken a liking to the band, as Bear Lake debuted at number 16 on the CMJ Adds chart, and within three weeks has landed at number 127 on the CMJ top 200, a ranking that is sure to increase. Rachel May of the Detroit Free Press calls the album "captivating from the first song to the last," a true compliment from an accomplished musician and journalist.

Since they formed in January 2008, the members of Bear Lake have shared a common purpose: to make music that matters as a whole, where no one stands above anyone else and everyone has equal access to the spotlight. Six men from Metro Detroit in their twenties, each bringing their own unique songwriting style to the table, found magic in the fusion of ideas and harmony in their masterful, melancholy voices. They create a gutsy, new wave sound that marries the magic of Band of Horses, the epic might of early Radiohead and the pop sensibility of Guster and Snow Patrol. Their incredible energy draws listeners in quickly to their circle of songs, warmth of their stories and to their collaborative musical journey. - Mi2N.com


"Risking It All For Rock, Bear Lake Releases "Scissors""

PRLog (Press Release) - Aug 09, 2011 - Is it worth the risk? Rochester, Michigan's indie pop rock sextet, Bear Lake thinks it is. Their latest song, "Scissors," from the forthcoming If You Were Me, deals with the merits of leaving the dreaded day job to pursue music full time. "When we wrote this song, we were all dealing with the question of whether to risk it all and pursue a music career, or to keep the typical 9 to 5 crap jobs which provide money but little happiness," says Jon Rice, lead guitarist, and vocalist. "We have since made the plunge into full time music, and we couldn't be happier about it. Every time I listen to the song now, it becomes an affirmation that we made the right decision". "Scissors," with its compelling synth intro, driving drums and perfectly pop falsetto vocals, is proof enough that Bear Lake made the right decision. In case you need more, their 127 spot on the CMJ Top 200, song placements in "One Tree Hill", "Bones", "Melrose Place", and Josh Radnor's Happythankyoumoreplease, and upcoming gigs with The Raconteurs, Sheryl Crow, and Bedouin Soundclash should suffice...for now. Take the plunge with Bear Lake's "Scissors" now: http://glgpub.com/file_download/216/Bear-Lake-Scissors.mp3

The highly anticipated release of If You Were Me has already met fans with much satisfaction and has them begging for more Bear Lake. Radio has taken a liking to the band, as Bear Lake debuted at number 16 on the CMJ Adds chart, and within three weeks has landed at number 127 on the CMJ top 200, a ranking that is sure to increase. Rachel May of the Detroit Free Press calls the album "captivating from the first song to the last," a true compliment from an accomplished musician and journalist.

Since they formed in January 2008, the members of Bear Lake have shared a common purpose: to make music that matters as a whole, where no one stands above anyone else and everyone has equal access to the spotlight. Six men from Metro Detroit in their twenties, each bringing their own unique songwriting style to the table, found magic in the fusion of ideas and harmony in their masterful, melancholy voices. They create a gutsy, new wave sound that marries the magic of Band of Horses, the epic might of early Radiohead and the pop sensibility of Guster and Snow Patrol. Their incredible energy draws listeners in quickly to their circle of songs, warmth of their stories and to their collaborative musical journey. - Green Light Go - PRLog


"Bear Lake - The Best One"

'The Best One' is by far, Bear Lake! This single is off the album, Places on the Side, but they have just recently released a new album, If You Were Me. And, if I were you, I'd definitely check it out. This album is fresh with some great sounds, some that you may recognize and others that they have made all their own. Tell us what you think. - Rock Cousteau


"Bear Lake makes move up ladder"

Bear Lake makes move up ladder
Adam Graham/ Detroit News Pop Music Writer

Bear Lake is keeping its goals in check.

Jon Rice, lead guitarist and vocalist for the Rochester-based six-piece rock outfit, doesn't overextend himself when discussing his dreams for the group.

"I want to take it, at a bare minimum, to a place where we're all living semi-comfortably and getting paid to do this," says the 30-year-old, on the phone last week. "And that's about it. I don't think any of us are dying to become superstars — although at the same time, I don't think any of us would say no to it."

The group of friends, who grew up together in Rochester and formed at an informal jam session a few years ago at Grayling's Bear Lake, have been steadily building a fan base over the course of three albums. The group's latest, "If You Were Me," was released last month, and the band plays Sunday at the Stars & Stripes Festival in downtown Mount Clemens.

The Stars and Stripes gig will be followed by a show at Woodhaven's Uncle Sam Jam on July 9, and then the band heads on a run of dates up the East Coast, with shows in Atlanta, Ashville, N.C., Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. Bear Lake is definitely working hard to live semi-comfortably.

The band members — Rice, Brian Kwasnik, Matt Hines, Keith May, Steve Stetson and Erik Penderson — range in age from 25 to 30, and balance Bear Lake duties with real life jobs. Rice, in addition to his solo output, is an instructor at the School of Rock in Rochester.

The band's visibility has been increased by a number of placements on TV shows, including the CW shows "Melrose Place" and "One Tree Hill." One of the band's songs is slated to be featured on an episode of ABC's "Rookie Blue" next month.

For "If You Were Me," the band tracked roughly 50 demos and sent them to Eric Hoegemeyer at Royal Oak's Rust Belt Studios. From there, Hoegemeyer chose 15, and those were whittled down to the 12 songs that made the album.

Recording started in June of last year and was finished in January. "If You Were Me" goes from plaintive ballads ("Breaking Me Down") to earwormy rock jams ("Scissors"), and has a rural, beard rock sound that suggests a heavy forest influence.

Rice says all six band members write, and they convene at an old barn in Washington Township they've fashioned into a rehearsal space. They're already looking down the line at writing for their next album, and want to keep their momentum going forward.

"We're still mapping out the plan of what's going to happen in the next six months or so, but I would say things are going really well," Rice says. "We've had a lot of positive feedback, people are buying the record and are liking it, and the chemistry of the group right now is really good. Everyone's excited. We're pretty happy, actually."


- Detroit News / Adam Graham


"Bear Lake CD Release Shwo Saturday at The Magic Bag"

Bear Lake, a Rochester Hills-based band named after a lake in northeast Michigan, is releasing their third LP, If You Were Me, Saturday night at the Magic Bag.

Jon Rice, lead guitarist and singer of this layered rock band, said the six-member group would play the new album in its entirety for the audience.

Bear Lake consists of Rice, Keith May (Bass, vocals), Erik Pederson (keys, percussion), Brian Kwasnik (keys, vocals), Matt Hines (lead vocals, acoustic guitar), Steve Stetson (Drums, percussion).

If You Were Me takes a more intimate turn than the previous album, with the songs containing "more personal and up front messages," Rice said. "(If You Were Me is) our perspectives about life."

The band also pared down the production, Rice said, in order to let the songs stand on themselves and to allow Bear Lake to “perform the songs with passion onstage”.

Jim Kissling in Ferndale's Tempermill Studio mastered Bear Lake's new album. Kissling has worked on all of Bear Lake's albums as well as albums for The Dirtbombs, Jill Jack and The Von Bondies. (A few more Ferndale connections include Rice's sister who lives in the city and a few band members get their hair cut by Billy Sandifer, owner of Dye Hair Salon on West Nine Mile Road.)

“It’s not just a record release show, it’s a party!" Rice said. "We’re celebrating. It’s like: ‘We’re done, we finally did it! Here it is!’”

When you’ve been working on a record for over a year, spending weekends here and there in the studio, it’s no surprise that Bear Lake feels like celebrating. But, a year's worth of work is not all that’s worth celebrating.

Bear Lake has had their music featured on Melrose Place, One Tree Hill, Bones, and ABC's The Gates as well as the 2010 Sundance Audience Award Winner, Happythankyoumoreplease. Rice said that allowing Bear Lake’s music to be used in TV and movies is a good way for a smaller band to keep putting music out.

“Income has changed for bands, you’ve got to make money to put out new records and to tour,” he said.

It seems like it’s working, too, with the band planning a national tour this summer and gearing up to enter the studio this August.

I Love Lightning Bugs and Brae will open the show for Bear Lake while Eric Hoegemeyer – as Deep See Soundsystem -- will be playing dub-step remixes he’s created of the new album.

Soulful vocalist Jessica Hernandez will also make an appearance, performing a song she recorded with Bear Lake for the new album. - Patch.com / Kelly Bennett


"CD Release Party for Bear Lake"

When the guys from the Rochester-based indie pop group Bear Lake ventured into the studio to work on their latest CD, they decided to take their foot off the pedal a little to better feel the torque of their tunes.

As a result, "If You Were Me," the band's third product, feels instantly

accessible, perhaps because the group seems more relaxed and comfortable.

"We made a conscious effort to let the songs stand for themselves and not

overproduce everything like we kind of did the last time," says guitarist-vocalist Jon Rice. "We did our best to simplify things so that none of the songs have too many bells and whistles."

The 12-song collection continues Bear Lake's style of modern rock that has earned them comparisons to Radiohead and Snow Patrol. But their musical diversity and introspective lyrics put them on their own eclectic shelf.

The CD produced by Eric Hoegenmeyer, was recorded at Rustbelt Studio in

Ferndale. The band has become something of a favorite in music-driven television shows and movies. Production companies have placed Bear Lake songs on such shows as "Bones" and "Melrose Place," along with Josh Radnor's 2010 Sundance Audience Award-winning film "HappyThankYouMorePlease."

It's a great vehicle for a local band to get its work out in an age when CD sales are on the slide and records are harder to sell.

"I think a lot of the shows like us because our lyrics are so dark," Rice

says. "We write about love and being on the road and all that. I think a lot of our stuff makes you stop and think and those songs are good for television and movies."

In addition to Rice, Bear Lake includes bassist Keith May, Erik Pederson on keyboards and percussion, keyboardist Brian Kwasnik, vocalist Matt Hines and drummer Steve Stetson.

The group has been together since 2008 when they used to gather at May's

family cabin in Bear Lake in northwestern Michigan to write songs and hang out. All songwriters in other bands at the time, the six formed a new group. Earlier this year, they were nominated for three Detroit Music Awards, including People's Choice Song of the Year, Outstanding Pop/Rock Artist, and Outstanding Vocalist.

Their collaboration generally involves one of the members bringing in a shell of a song to the rest of the group who then kick it into shape. Sometimes songs start out stripped down, but by the time the band is ready to record, the piece may take on more production.

But isn't having six songwriters each contributing to each song akin to having too many cooks in the kitchen?

"There's definitely room for conflict," he says. "Everyone gets their views out. There are battles to get to that point. Everyone has a strong opinion because we're all so passionate about the music."

Bear Lake hosts a CD release party the night of May 21 at the Magic Bag on Woodward near Nine Mile Road in Ferndale. It will be joined by new vocalist Jessica Hernandez, who performs on the song "High On the Road" from the new product. Also appearing are I Love Lightning Bugs, Brea and Deep See Soundsystem. Tickets are $8. Go to www.bearlakemusic.net for more info. - The Macomb Daily / Mitch Hotts


"Take a dive at Bear Lake's CD Release Show"

It's Thursday afternoon, and you're probably sitting at home or in your office and thinking, "What am I going to do this weekend?"

Well, the answer for you is here, and it's Bear Lake's CD Release Party at the Magic Bag in Ferndale, on Saturday, May 21st.

Hailing from Rochester, Michigan, Bear Lake is certainly making a name for themselves nationally. With a blend of acoustic guitars, electronic instruments and introspective lyrics, the band's sound ranges from light and catchy pop to slower, chill ballads. The band's music may be familiar to viewers of CW television shows "One Tree Hill" and "Melrose Place", as well as Fox's "Bones".

The show in Ferndale is celebrating the release of their third album, "If You Were Me", which will be available in media stores nationally on the same day. According to the band's webpage, the album promises to be "...12 songs that look deep into the life and development of Bear Lake's members from multiple perspectives." A few songs from the album are available on the page and they seem to suggest just that.

Continue reading on Examiner.com: Take a dive at Bear Lake's CD release show - Detroit Music Scene | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/music-scene-in-detroit/take-a-dive-at-bear-lake-s-cd-release-show#ixzz1NBwMwZiw
- Examiner.com


"Bear Lake Celebrates Release of 3rd CD"

Every now and again a disc that really grabs me will land on my desk. This time it was indie rockers Bear Lake, whose new CD captured me from the first song to the last.

"If You Were Me" is the title of the third release from the group. It will be celebrated with a CD-release party on Saturday at the Magic Bag in Ferndale.

"It's got everything from just the one guy singing with the acoustic guitar to the full orchestra and string section going with electric guitar solos, to the crazy synth lines in some of the tunes," says vocalist-guitarist Jon Rice. "It's kind of all over the place but at the same time I'd like to think it makes sense when you listen to the whole thing together."

And it does. The band uses really interesting melodies and sound samples for a sound that's reminiscent of Radiohead and Snow Patrol.

The band formed in 2007 after a group of childhood buddies went on a trip together. "Our bass player had a cabin up at Bear Lake," says Rice. "We just started writing songs for fun."

The group went into Rustbelt Studios, where its drummer Steve Stetson was interning at the time. "Dodge ended up picking up one of those songs for an ad they did for their Dodge Ram, which helped us get the money to record our follow-up album," Rice says

From there things began to take off. Bear Lake's music was featured in episodes of "One Tree Hill," "Bones" and "Melrose Place." "The 'One Tree Hill' placement was what really started to get the wheels spinning," says Rice.

An East Coast tour is in the works for the summer, and the band is set to open for Bedouin Soundclash, Gin Blossoms, the Tubes and others coming through Detroit this summer.

Opening Saturday's release show are Brae, I Love Lightning Bugs and Deep See Soundsystem. Doors at 8 p.m. Saturday, the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward, Ferndale. $8. For more: bearlakemusic.com. - Rachel May / The Detroit Free Press


"Bear Lake - If You Were Me"

Bear Lake has been making music for three years. In those three years they've managed to release three albums – something almost unheard of in local music, regardless of location. When studio time was used as an incentive for their drummer, Steve Stetson, being an outstanding intern at Rustbelt recording studio, Bear Lake was off and running.

Getting noticed by the right people is what lead guitar and vocalist Jon Rice attributes their growing success to. "I think we were just lucky enough to get our music into the right hands," says Rice.

Those "right hands" happened to be those in charge of music at the CW network shows Melrose Place and One Tree Hill. Their distinctively indistinct sound (theirs changes with every album, and nearly every song) is punchy enough to be adored by casual listeners but intuitive and relevant enough to be enjoyed by diehards.

That unique sound can be attributed to the guys' ability to share. Each member – Keith May, Erik Penderson, Brian Kwasnik, Matt Hines, Stetson and Rice ¬¬– contribute equal shares to the songwriting process, each with a different frame of reference and musical scope.

"It's definitely heated; we definitely battle. Part of it too is that we've been friends since we were kids so it's like we're all brothers in a way," says Rice. "So we fight even that much more because if somebody doesn't like something else that someone did, you not only take offense bc it's your work but because that's your friend and you respect their opinion more than some Joe of the street.

It is tough but I think it's also really good. Once things are said and done you can look back and says that person's fighting because they care so much about the project and they just want what's best of the group and the band and I think the end result ends up being better for it."

This time around, the guys opted to go back to Rustbelt's Eric Hoegemeyer to record their third release, If You Were Me. After recording around 50 tracks, the band, with the expertise of Hoegemeyer, pared them down to just 15, 12 of which have made it onto the album simply because the "ran outta time." They've already began working on their senior album.

Though Bear Lake has reached an audience much further than just metro Detroit, it's not due to their touring habits. The band has yet to ventur outside the Midwest, so this time around they're hitting the east coast.

"We're most excited about going out and performing on the road. It'll be the first time we do a full three or four week tour where we hit a bunch of cities across the east coast," says Rice.

And while they're venturing outside of their usual habitat, these gents still recognize what Detroit stands for and how they're band is impacted by their environment.

"[They] think 'Detroit' and they think crime, no jobs and dirty areas. I've just noticed in the past few years that the artistic community is exploding around here," says Rice. "What I've taken more notice to is the music community and there's some really awesome music coming out of Detroit, which has influenced us and inspired us.

This is kinda our peer group here and we've gotta keep up for sure. Between Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Jessica Hernandez, there's a ton of really good music coming out of here, which has helped us up our game and trying to keep up." | RDW - Real Detroit Weekly - Treasure Groh


"Bear Lake - 5/21 - Magic Bag (Album Release Show)"

Bear Lake are one of those bands that baffle you to learn their from Detroit, ...let alone that they've been crafting their cinematic power-pop ballads amidst our humble, scuffed-out milieu for more than three years now.

I'm not trying to indulge some hackneyed "just goes to show you" angle to make it a testimonial to the breadth of talent pocketed throughout the southeastern corner of the Mitten state... ...(though, I kind of am...)


...It's more so an emphatic huh!...more of a head-scratcher that they're still here and haven't yet been swept up by some private jet that would take them to some brightly lit arena or some other Bonaroo-type trip where they can more effectively turn some indie-pop heads.


Bear Lake seem equally possessed by McCartney as they are by Gibbard, equally blending pared-back piano/acoustic folk jaunts with the arm-raising/eye-closing/lip-synching ingratiation of arena-rock anthems - and equally flexing knacks for charting out ear-worm melodies as they are at dressing their soundscapes with enough atmospheric intrigue so as to squelch the saccharine and give the theatric ardor of the spacey-pedal-howled tones enough room to breath out their star-gazer resonance.

The harmonies are pure and pretty, the tones are meticulously wound to keenly mellifluous timbres such as to achieve that grinning summer-y enchantment. Throw in heartfelt, plaintive lyrics that spill their guts, either delicately or declaratively... and you've got the glistening charm of Bear Lake... a band that's already had their songs snagged by a number of mainstream media outlets like One Tree Hill. Plus, they were just in the studio to sit in for Ann Delisi's Essential Music.
- Deep Cutz - Jeff Milo


"Bear Lake: New Track"

Metro-Detroiters Bear Lake have been busy working on their 3rd album, If You Were Me (order here) and are finally ready to release it to the world. The six-piece band describes the 12 track album as “a more pointed retrospective in their lyrics while still maintaining the diversity that they are known for.” The first single “Scissors” is an immediately catchy guitar rock song, but its layered with a multitude of elements. Matt Hines’ emotive vocals, sweeping synth, melodic hook, and the latter half’s subtle breakdown all make for a memorable track. - JayeL Audio


"Bear Lake"

It’s been nearly four years since Bear Lake formed in 2007. And, after two well-received full length records, the band is primed and ready for you to offer you some new music. If you’ve not listened to Bear Lake before, their sound is a complex, rock n’ roll based mixture of alternative instrumentation and electronics. Often when bands experiment with electronic sounds they enter dangerous territory, drowning out their instruments and muddying the songwriting with spaced-out effects. Bear Lake’s sound has such a well-produced balance, in most songs the instruments are distinguishable with vivid precision.

Bear Lake will release their third full length record If You Were Me on May 21, 2011. The release will be marked by a huge hometown show at the Magic Mag in Ferndale, MI. untitledradio had some questions for the Bear Lake, here’s what they had to say:

untitledradio: First off, the cover art for your new record is beautiful. Who is the artist and why did you pick this piece to represent your record?

Bear Lake: Thanks! The artist is Adam Perzanowski, who also did the artwork for our last record Places on the Side. The selection of the piece was a “most dramatic” award nominee for sure. The six of us are so passionately involved in this album that it was quite tasking to find an idea that we all agreed upon; however, once this piece came along, it stood out to each of us immediately. As soon as we saw it, it was like “yep, that’s it”. We prefer to have the artwork created around the music itself, rather than the opposite. We sent Adam the tracks and the title and just let him do what he does. We are all very happy with the outcome.

ur: The title of your new record is If You Were Me. Can you explain how the phrase exemplifies this collection of songs?

BL: Most people are unaware of how much work and time goes into making an album. We started working on this record in March of 2010 with roughly 35 demos to work from. Many decisions, influences, changes, opinions, etc. occurred throughout the next year until settling on 12 tracks. The concept of If You Were Me is a combination of many things. This album is much more personal and reflective than our previous records. There is an actual connection between our personal experiences and the themes and lyrical content of these songs. At the same time, as much as these songs are very personalized, we feel they are all commonly relate-able. Relationships, addictions, death, love, hate, your basic structures of life. You encounter so many opinions during this process on “the right way” to record, produce, distribute, etc. It is impossible to please everybody, and hard enough to please all six of us. The thing is, there really is no foolproof way in the music industry. We have just continued to try to surround ourselves with people we trust and write/record music we love. What would you do “if you were me?”

ur: Is your new record an evolution or an antithesis of your first two records?

BL: I think we entertained a little bit of both with this sequel. We enjoy agonizing over the details, and that certainly continued on this album. If You Were Me was written in a similar manner to our last release. We demoed a lot of songs, great, good, bad, and weird. But, each release has been a step forward as well. While we are thrilled with certain aspects of the last record, I think we all acknowledged that we wanted this release to be more cohesive, both sonically, and emotionally. I think we sound more like Bear Lake on this album, if that makes any sense. If You Were Me is an album in the true sense of the word. The track selections and order are purposely sequenced and the evoked emotions are intended to correlate with them. We are continuing to improve on knowing what our niche is, creating, and expanding on it. A lot was learned from our first two albums and ya gotta keep moving forward recognizing what works and what doesn’t. I think we are satisfied…but only for a moment, terrible cellphone recordings and over-produced garageband sessions are starting to pile up.

ur: Can you give our readers some insight into the meaning and concept of your new single “Scissors?”

BL: Basically its about the hardships you face trying to be what you truly want to be. So many people today are too easily influenced by friends, family, and/or society to pursue what they may or may not be truly passionate about in life. In a way this song represents the “just fucking go for it” mindset, you can’t be afraid to fail in today’s world. Cut ties from the skepticism of your life and you may realize how much happier this place can be.

ur: Your music has been featured prominently on numerous television programs (Bones, One Tree Hill, Melrose Place), how does it feel to lend your art as a supportive piece to a television scene?

BL: It’s surreal. Music placements have been the thing we are most proud of as a band. The fact that someone wants to use our music to represent whatever purpose they are trying to convey is humbling. It is always interesting to see how they end up using each song, and being able to see what emotions/ideas were instilled in them. Movies or TV series with great music have always been more appealing, it is great to contribute to it. The publicity and notoriety we received was also very important. It’s truly remarkable how easily visible the effects of these placements are on downloads, web-hits, messages, etc. Our song “The Best One” is being featured in a documentary in the near future about a new jean company in Detroit, it is even nicer to be a part of something that represents our hometown.

ur: You’re playing a hometown album release show May 21st at the Magic Bag in Ferndale. Can you give fans an indication of what to expect?

BL: The angst and stress leading up to the release party will finally be let loose!!! We have been spending so much time finishing this record and preparing for its release we really haven’t been playing out too often. It will be great to have a new record of material to play for all our fans. As far as our performance goes, you will have to just show up to see what sort of nuances we have come up with for your entertainment. ONCE AGAIN THATS SATURDAY MAY 21ST @ THE MAGIC BAG IN FERNDALE. But seriously, we are really excited with the support we have put together for the show. Our producer, Eric Hoegemeyer, will be performing as Deep See Soundsystem in between acts, as well as following our performance. He is in the process of working on a remix of the album, a mash up sort of thing of Bear Lake vs Deep See Soundsystem, which can be heard at the show. Other guests include Brae (a really, really great band and group of guys) as well as I Love Lightning Bugs (who we don’t know as well personally, but we really dig their tunes) will be performing. As far as what to expect, great music from Detroit artists, a great light show, and most likely a dance-off.

ur: What is next for Bear Lake in terms of supporting If You Were Me?

BL: We feel that we put out a great album with “Places” but didn’t do the necessary promotions to correlate the release. You live and learn. We are in the process of finalizing a full scale national radio and promotions campaign which will conveniently correlate with the national tour we are beginning in July. As of now we will be predominantly in the midwest and east coast for much of the summer, so please check the website (www.bearlakemusic.com) for upcoming dates/cities. We are also deliberating on our next moves as far as publishing and labels go. The last record opened the door for us as far as tv/movie placements go, and we are excited to see what opportunities are ahead for us in that avenue. - Untitled Radio


"Meet Detroit Music Award Nominee Bear Lake"

Detroit Music Award-nominated band Bear Lake consists of a group of friends that have known each other since childhood. Not only does that explain their name (which comes from Bear Lake, Michigan, and the cabin at which the friends played and wrote music together and
became a band,) but also their tight, uniform sound.

Bear Lake consists of members Brian Kwasnik, Erik Pederson, Matt Hines, Keith May, Steve Stetson, and Jon Rice. I got a chance to talk to Bear Lake recently about their nominations and their thoughts on the
Detroit music scene.

Brian: What do you think it is that defines the Detroit sound?
Bear Lake: Well, we deal with really long winters; So, you’re spending your time indoorsand meeting up with friends and writing. Plus, there’s the whole “scene” in Detroit: the art, the buildings, the history. Everyone is affected by the Motown sound. Just that alone, that pushes you to write better music—in respect for that.

Brian: Do you feel that you represent the Detroit sound?
Bear Lake: Detroit has been riff-rock oriented for years. We’ve always kind of been melodybased,but we have been adding electronic sounds to our music; in that aspect we’re a good representation of Detroit.

Brian: Would you say that mastering social media tools are critical for any band nowadays? Is it more important than getting signed?
Bear Lake: We’re about to come out with a new record. We’ve been talking about different avenues—Bandcamp, Facebook. You have to stay on top of it. I teach young kids at the School of Rock—they know more about this stuff than I do. They’re growing up with it. It’s just that it’s so much easier to get people from around the world to listen to your music. Back in the 90s that was basically impossible. I’d say it’s crucial. You have to stay on top of it or you’ll get buried. The more you’re seen,
the more your name pops up, the better it is.

Brian: I’ve asked this of every nominee I’ve interview so far. Pretend you just won both a Detroit Music Award and a Peoples’ Choice Award. Which is more special to you?
That’s a tough one; We all grew up around the Detroit area; a lot of the peers and people we look up to have won awards in the past. In that aspect it would be awesome to win a DMA. At the same time, the VitaminWater thing is the fans choosing the song; in the long run both
would be great. As a band, I’d say we’d be thrilled if we won the DMA. - The Urbane Life - Brian Ambrozy


"Bear Lake - Metro Times Blowout"


Layered guitar, harmony indie with carefully wrought songs and a burnished presentation in which melodies can trigger real longing. They've been compared to the Stills and Radiohead (when they were good), but that's too easy. Bear Lake songs have been placed all over TV and in films, and you could easily imagine these guys playing video games in their own tour coach in the not-too-distant future. - Metro Times


"Bear Lake - Catch The Sun"

Sunday, 03 February 2008 22:59

On Bear Lake’s debut album Catch The Sun the band possesses a quirky likeability. The Michigan band is fixed somewhere between being a rock band and a pop band, but are at their best when they highlight their talents and get away from the labels.


Comparing themselves to more contemporary acts like The Shins or Jack Johnson does not showcase who the band really is. The 7-piece which includes the piano, organ, percussion and a rhythm guitar help the band display a full sound that seems a throwback to something from the past. The song “The Victor” could be a part of The Beatles early back catalog with its dark lyrics and jaunty beat. The song becomes the band’s clear standout number. On “Brown” lead singer Matt Hines wails like a 70s rock star over a heavy guitar. Bear Lake’s debut makes a strong effort to become a band worth listening to.

- Shannon Carlin - Beyond Race Magazine


"Synthesis Band You’ve Never Heard Of Band of the Day: Bear Lake"

Synthesis Band You’ve Never Heard Of Band of the Day: Bear Lake
Author: ryan
13
FEB


With a name as “blah” as Bear Lake, you’d better conjure up some mighty musicality as contrast. This Northern Michigan-based eight-piece ensemble purveys a vibrant, pulsing rock groove, calling to mind such atmospheric collectives as The Flaming Lips (if only they were more sinister), Muse (if their singer didn’t boast a boat engine vibrato) or Creeper Lagoon (if only they’d kept their lineup intact).

Lush harmonies come by way of Keith May (Bass/Vox), Steve Stetson (Drums), Matt Hines (Lead Vox), Peter LeClair (Lead Guitar/Lead Vox), Jon Rice (Rhythm Guitar/Vox), Brian Kwasnik (Piano/Vox) and Carmen Paradise (Vox/Percussion), lifting what might be ordinarily redundant tunes about city life versus nature dwelling into lulling, hypnotic opuses for pop fans.
There’s a lot of good things about this band, and I don’t suppose they’d care to hear that although they do have a great sound, it’s a smidge overdone. Regardless, you can’t front on a song as instantly danceable as “Catch The Sun.”

Come play in Chico!

Check out the band’s MySpace page at myspace.com/bearlakemusic. - Synthesis Magazine


"Catch the Sun - Bear Lake"

Catch the Sun - Bear Lake

By Rita B.

One listen to a song like catch the sun is enough to grab your attention. This is a band full of confidence - not the show-off confidence of some crowd of wannabes, but the quiet confidence of a band that knows how to write a great tune. Catch the Sun is one of those great American road songs - the bass and guitars propelling the listener right from the outset to the chorus, just as singer Matt Hines sings about leaving sorrow behind, in time to catch the sun. The song is spacious and optimistic, and while you might disagree with the sentiment (you've problems & pain? Turn the key in the ignition and you'll be fine), and worry that a writer's dictionary was artfully used to plug a gap with the word 'tribulation', you'd be hard-pushed to find a better song to stick in your car-stereo in the morning to raise the spirits.

Faded is another stand out track. The musicianship and production is spot on, oozing quality and experience. The chorus marks out the band's key strength - they can build a hook, both musically and lyrically, that leaves you with a clear idea to take away from the song on just one listen. The music punctuates the punchline of the song perfectly: "Patience is dangerous, when you've got shit to do".

Traverse City opens and it could be the shins, or counting crows (Sullivan Street drifts into my mind as I listen). But listening through it has it's own sound well crafted out, with gentle nostalgia washing over the listener.

The band is based around a group of friends, all in their mid 20s that broke their teeth - musically speaking - in various different bar bands around Michigan, before deciding to throw their lot in together as Bear Lake. There's a wealth of experience on display, and a maturity that adds meat to the melodies. This is a band where no-one is pushing or shoving himself into the limelight, and where everyone contributes perfectly to a rich and lush sound.

The other thing that make's you sit up and take notice of Bear Lake is the diversity on show. Many bands, when capable of writing a killer tune like Catch the Sun, presume that the next smart move is to write eight or nine tunes in a similar vein. There's a world of difference between the American rock of Catch the SUn and The Victor, which takes its signature liberally from the Beatles (respectfully done, which makes it alright), while mixing it up with a simple but clever and well-paced heavy-guitar and drum fest.

Clever, well-crafted, and original - what more do you want?


http://www.threemonkeysonline.com/reviews/bear_lake_catch_the_sun.html
- Three Monkeys Press


"Bear Lake: Places on the Side"

BY BRETT CALLWOOD

Named after the Manistee County lakeside town that the six lifelong friends in this band call home, Bear Lake first earned mass critical acclaim with its debut album, Catch the Sun. Since then, the band's continued to pull in new local fans at an impressive rate, thanks to its ethereal live shows.

To refer to Bear Lake as "indie rock" is accurate but it's also irritatingly lazy; the secret of this band's thought-provoking and deliciously emotional sound is that the group's not at all afraid of minimalism and, conversely, also knowing the perfect moment to fill out a song part to epic proportions. They're mildly reminiscent of Manchester bands like the Stone Roses or even the Verve in that they don't shy away from electronic toys and loops but still manage to sound very much like a rock 'n' roll band. Taking all of that into consideration, it's fair to say that Bear Lake is probably the closest Michigan gets to our own Radiohead (if Michigan indeed needs its own Radiohead).

For those that were fortunate enough to discover the band through the debut album, there will be little in the way of surprises on this disc, though that isn't to say that it isn't a hugely satisfying record. The shared songwriting has taken a dramatic leap forward, notably on songs like the title track, "The Best One" and "Where Do We Go From Here," all of which see lead vocalist Matt Hines crooning with a delicate ease and a magnificent sense of subtlety. His vocal parts find him keeping things simple, yet they also soar throughout.

The best song on the record, though, is the closing "Just Because You Can," a track that inspires the listener to shut the lights off and smoke a cigarette while simply letting the head sway. It's very much like The The or, once again, Radiohead.

The music business is notoriously unpredictable, especially these days, but, given the right backing, Bear Lake has every chance of swaying heads nationwide and beyond. - Metro Times


"Bear Lake: Places on the Side"

Bear Lake: Places on the Side

Reviewed By: Mark Rowland
Label: Bear Lake Music
Format: CD
Detroit’s Bear Lake have built up a fair buzz in their home town, and are hoping to move beyond that with their second album, with their first tour of the American Midwest later this year.

Their music has been compared to such different bands as Radiohead, the Flaming Lips, the Shins and Snow Patrol. They actually sound more like Band of Horses, with their shimmering atmospherics, quiet loud dynamics and understated vocals with an occasional country flavour.

The opener and title track does, however, start with a guitar riff that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Snow Patrol song, and it’s the band’s delivery that saves it from sounding stylistically identical.

‘Fading Lines’ is perhaps more successful, the band flitting between tense acoustic strumming and minor and major melodies.

‘The Best One’, with its fuzzy organ and effected beat, visits Spoon territory. It’s a welcome change of pace, if a little derivative.

At times, it does sound like Bear Lake have been a bit self-conscious in ensuring that their album is a diverse one, at times lifting styles wholesale from bands that they clearly admire. ‘Smile’ for example, seems to frame itself as a Shins song, with a chorus that would feel right at home on the Flaming Lips’ 'The Soft Bulletin'. It’s a good song, and would perhaps have benefitted from a less laboured approach. ‘One Beats Three’, which directly follows ‘Smile’, goes for a vaguely Mazzy Star meets Guided By Voices (in their quieter moments) sound, which works quite well.

‘Where Do We Go?’ has a piano part and drum beat that wouldn’t feel out of place on Radiohead’s latest one, before adding a vocal and guitar line that turns it into mainstream American rock.

‘You’re Only Waiting’ is a nice acoustic strum along, which is wrapped in a U2 like electric pomp which feels unnecessary. Most of the songs on ‘Places on the Side’ are good, in fact, but the occasionally overblown production doesn’t always suit them. Bear Lake definitely have something, but they need to take a less complicated approach to their music, and let their songs speak for themselves. - http://www.pennyblackmusic.co.uk/MagSitePages/Review.aspx?id=6499


"Music by Rochester band Bear Lake featured on 'Melrose Place,' 'One Tree Hill'"

Rochester-based indie rock band Bear Lake is getting some major face time (ear time?) on cable television this fall.

The band's song "Where Do We Go" was featured on episode seven of the CW's "Melrose Place," and tonight it will appear on "One Tree Hill," also a CW show.

The song is off the band's second album "Places on the Side."

Bear Lake is a relatively new group.

It formed in 2007 when six friends decided to make a song-writing session out of a week-long winter cabin stay on Bear Lake (of course).

The result was their first album, "Catch the Sun."

Both albums were produced at Rust Belt Studios in Royal Oak and Metro Times likens them to "Michigan's Radiohead."

Below is the scene from "Melrose Place" that features "Where Do We Go."

The song starts at the beginning of the clip and you have to listen closely to hear it.

Check out the full song on the Bear Lake's MySpace - http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/detroit/index.ssf/2009/11/music_by_rochester_band_bear_l.html


"Bear Lake"

Catchy, melodic pop/rock from six friends out of Michigan. Yep, that’s right friends – as in, they all have pretty much known each other since the sixth grade. So, kids, if you’re thinking your middle school friends won’t mean anything to your future (though, you’re probably thinking, another “bear” band? wtf??), think again, because Bear Lake is here to prove you wrong.

Originally an eight member band, Bear Lake has dipped to six after a couple band mates (Peter LeClair and Carmen Electra Paradise – real name) got married and started their own ventures together. So cute; and, seriously, talk about bandcest. The current members are Matt Hines (Ac. Git, and Lead Vox), Jon Rice (Lead Git, vox), Steve Stetson (Drums), Brian Kwasnik (Piano, vox), Eric Pederson (Organ/synth/percussion), and Keith May (Bass, Vox). As May told us, “We all are aspiring songwriters in our own right, and we write as a conglomerative unit. Usually Stetson programs a drumbeat as a base, and we take it from there in shifting groups and add parts until we have a workable song, then we take it to Rustbelt where studio wizard Eric Hoegemeyer adds the final touches.”

Honestly, who can think of a better life than performing what you love with friends you love? Bear Lake has a legitimate shot at making it big – they recently started working with well-known producers and lawyers, as well as North Star Publishing for their licensing. If I had any say in the matter, they’d be popular right away – while their song “Where Do We Go?” has been featured on One Tree Hill and Melrose Place, it’s up to us to push them along and give them a solid foundation.

The songs straddle the line between light electro-acoustic and darker pop/rock, establishing an agreeable balance of lo-fi and produced. Vocals play a vital role for Bear Lake, as four of the six guys (as aforementioned) sing, procuring warm harmonies. The organ and synth add a bit of complexity and depth to the sound, which is otherwise easily engaging. Driving electric guitar sets the mood in one of the stronger tracks, “The Best One”, while soft percussion and acoustics propel my personal favorite, “You’re Only Waiting”.

Bear Lake – “You’re Only Waiting” [MP3]

Bear Lake – “The Best One” [MP3]

Purchase Places On The Side (2009) | Bear Lake on MySpace
- http://www.knoxroad.com/2010/01/04/bear-lake/


"Bear Lake - Places on the Side"

Named after the Manistee County lakeside town that the six lifelong friends in this band call home, Bear Lake first earned mass critical acclaim with its debut album, Catch the Sun. Since then, the band's continued to pull in new local fans at an impressive rate, thanks to its ethereal live shows.

To refer to Bear Lake as "indie rock" is accurate but it's also irritatingly lazy; the secret of this band's thought-provoking and deliciously emotional sound is that the group's not at all afraid of minimalism and, conversely, also knowing the perfect moment to fill out a song part to epic proportions. They're mildly reminiscent of Manchester bands like the Stone Roses or even the Verve in that they don't shy away from electronic toys and loops but still manage to sound very much like a rock 'n' roll band. Taking all of that into consideration, it's fair to say that Bear Lake is probably the closest Michigan gets to our own Radiohead (if Michigan indeed needs its own Radiohead).

For those that were fortunate enough to discover the band through the debut album, there will be little in the way of surprises on this disc, though that isn't to say that it isn't a hugely satisfying record. The shared songwriting has taken a dramatic leap forward, notably on songs like the title track, "The Best One" and "Where Do We Go From Here," all of which see lead vocalist Matt Hines crooning with a delicate ease and a magnificent sense of subtlety. His vocal parts find him keeping things simple, yet they also soar throughout.

The best song on the record, though, is the closing "Just Because You Can," a track that inspires the listener to shut the lights off and smoke a cigarette while simply letting the head sway. It's very much like The The or, once again, Radiohead.

The music business is notoriously unpredictable, especially these days, but, given the right backing, Bear Lake has every chance of swaying heads nationwide and beyond.


Comments
On 12/20/2008 2:11:54 AM, moraned1 said:

I was one of the fortunate to actually hear B.L. from when they debuted, and the growth but yet consistent genuine sound of their music is awesome. The fact that I can put every single one of their songs on a cd, and just play it through is a something rare. To see them live is worth any cover, because soon it'll be a ticket worth fighting for. - Detroit Metro Times


"Band Spotlight: Bear Lake"

The lowdown: If only everything in life were this simple: Grab a bunch of your friends, spend a week in a cozy cabin, come out as a band with the basis for an album that sounds on first listen as if it sprang fully formed from the mixing board. Looks good on paper, sounds great on your iPod, but unfortunately barely anybody heard Bear Lake's debut, "Catch the Sun."

Hopefully, music fans out there won't make the same mistake twice. Barely a year after that first album, Bear Lake has released sophomore disc "Places on the Side," an under-40-minute ear-grabber that rocks out, calms down and does everything that an under-the-radar pop-rock fan could want. It's always harsh to make comparisons to modern successes, and Bear Lake doesn't make it easy, but in a marathon with easy-indie-listening bands that have blown up nicely in the past few years, including Death Cab for Cutie and Snow Patrol, the group's discography thus far puts it in the conversation, if not the race.

Once a seven-piece, Bear Lake lost its first guitar player to marriage, becoming a sextet with a new lead guitarist in Jon Rice. "We've known each other for a long time and we've all been in different bands together, here and there, growing up. This just happened to be the one that clicked," says Rice.

The drummer's internship at Royal Oak's esteemed Rustbelt Studios led to free studio time and a relationship with producer Al Sutton (Kid Rock) and Eric Hoegemeyer that paid huge dividends on both albums. Now all that's left for Bear Lake to do is get the music in the hands of paying customers.

THE LINEUP: Matt Hines is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar, Brian Kwasnik plays keyboards, Erik Pederson works the organ, Steve Stetson handles the drums, and Keith May plays bass. Rice also sings lead on a few songs, thanks to his day job playing his own shows around town during the week, singing originals and covers. Kwasnik is finishing up his college degree, Hines works some of Rice's shows and slings pies at Hungry Howie's. Stetson is a drum teacher, May is a high school English teacher and Pederson commutes from Chicago, where he works as a landscape designer. Each is in his mid- to late 20s.

THE SOUND: Bear Lake doesn't want to be pigeonholed into any specific genre (although heavy metal, hard-core, or hip-hop it's not). The best way to describe these young rockers is to say they sound way better than they really ought to, given their resources and lack of label support.

Produced at Rustbelt, both Bear Lake albums are richly layered and full of textured, strong mixes. Instruments don't get lost; vocals are tweaked in just the right way. On one track it might be a piano setting the beat for the drums to pick up ("Where Do We Go From Here?"), on another it's Hines' eerie vocals ("Raid Out") leading the vibe. It just goes to show what you can do with a fistful of talent and the muscle to back up the punch.

THE BEGINNING: The men of Bear Lake have known each other for most of their lives, which they've spent in Rochester, other than splitting up for college around the state. They'd been in various band configurations, but it wasn't until a winter vacation trip to May's cabin up North (guess what lake it's on?) that Bear Lake coalesced into an actual band.

"We've gone up there plenty of times to hang out and vacation or whatever. I think it was 2007 maybe, we went up there for a week in the winter and just hung out and wrote songs, just for fun. This was before we even had a band together; we all had separate things going on. But we were still friends. And the songs turned out so great that we decided to record them onto a record and call it Bear Lake. That was 'Catch the Sun.' And we got such a good response for it we started to write songs for this record," explains Rice.

TOO MANY COOKS?: Six band mates is a lot, but Rice says six never seems like too many, even when they're locked in a small studio.

"Like the title track -- those lyrics were written in the studio as we were recording music for it, as a group. It just came together on the spot. Surprisingly enough, we actually were able to work that out. I've worked with a lot of people where they'll come up with an idea and you'll hate it, or you'll come up with an idea and they'll hate it and then you get nowhere. But somehow with six people we've been able to manage things. It's worked out so far, anyway," he says.

But don't take that to mean they get along 100% of the time, he cautions. "Well, we have screaming arguments, but they're not over music. Because we've been friends for so long, Matt and I can get into knockdown, drag-out fights about, say, a video game we played in eighth grade or something. But definitely not about the music. If anything, we're always extremely supportive of each other and respectful in that aspect of things."

THEIR SCENE: Detroit is home to many music scenes, but Bear Lake hasn't actually found its own yet. And they know they may have to seek it elsewhere. "Right now we're kind of like the loner kid by himself in the lunchroom. We haven't really made too many friends. We have some friends, a couple of bands that we know people from and enjoy their music, but as far as working with other groups, we haven't really got out there and done it yet. Part of it is, we made that first record and then had a big transition as far as the lineup of the band. With this new record, it's almost like they're two different bands," says Rice. "We didn't really get out and perform that much; we spent most of our time writing and recording the new record. So we really haven't had a chance to get out and do that many shows. Now that we have this record out and have a firm grasp on who we are and what we sound like, now we're going to try to get out there and play."

By Erin Podolsky, Free Press Writer - Detroit Free Press


"Band Spotlight: Bear Lake"

The lowdown: If only everything in life were this simple: Grab a bunch of your friends, spend a week in a cozy cabin, come out as a band with the basis for an album that sounds on first listen as if it sprang fully formed from the mixing board. Looks good on paper, sounds great on your iPod, but unfortunately barely anybody heard Bear Lake's debut, "Catch the Sun."

Hopefully, music fans out there won't make the same mistake twice. Barely a year after that first album, Bear Lake has released sophomore disc "Places on the Side," an under-40-minute ear-grabber that rocks out, calms down and does everything that an under-the-radar pop-rock fan could want. It's always harsh to make comparisons to modern successes, and Bear Lake doesn't make it easy, but in a marathon with easy-indie-listening bands that have blown up nicely in the past few years, including Death Cab for Cutie and Snow Patrol, the group's discography thus far puts it in the conversation, if not the race.

Once a seven-piece, Bear Lake lost its first guitar player to marriage, becoming a sextet with a new lead guitarist in Jon Rice. "We've known each other for a long time and we've all been in different bands together, here and there, growing up. This just happened to be the one that clicked," says Rice.

The drummer's internship at Royal Oak's esteemed Rustbelt Studios led to free studio time and a relationship with producer Al Sutton (Kid Rock) and Eric Hoegemeyer that paid huge dividends on both albums. Now all that's left for Bear Lake to do is get the music in the hands of paying customers.

THE LINEUP: Matt Hines is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar, Brian Kwasnik plays keyboards, Erik Pederson works the organ, Steve Stetson handles the drums, and Keith May plays bass. Rice also sings lead on a few songs, thanks to his day job playing his own shows around town during the week, singing originals and covers. Kwasnik is finishing up his college degree, Hines works some of Rice's shows and slings pies at Hungry Howie's. Stetson is a drum teacher, May is a high school English teacher and Pederson commutes from Chicago, where he works as a landscape designer. Each is in his mid- to late 20s.

THE SOUND: Bear Lake doesn't want to be pigeonholed into any specific genre (although heavy metal, hard-core, or hip-hop it's not). The best way to describe these young rockers is to say they sound way better than they really ought to, given their resources and lack of label support.

Produced at Rustbelt, both Bear Lake albums are richly layered and full of textured, strong mixes. Instruments don't get lost; vocals are tweaked in just the right way. On one track it might be a piano setting the beat for the drums to pick up ("Where Do We Go From Here?"), on another it's Hines' eerie vocals ("Raid Out") leading the vibe. It just goes to show what you can do with a fistful of talent and the muscle to back up the punch.

THE BEGINNING: The men of Bear Lake have known each other for most of their lives, which they've spent in Rochester, other than splitting up for college around the state. They'd been in various band configurations, but it wasn't until a winter vacation trip to May's cabin up North (guess what lake it's on?) that Bear Lake coalesced into an actual band.

"We've gone up there plenty of times to hang out and vacation or whatever. I think it was 2007 maybe, we went up there for a week in the winter and just hung out and wrote songs, just for fun. This was before we even had a band together; we all had separate things going on. But we were still friends. And the songs turned out so great that we decided to record them onto a record and call it Bear Lake. That was 'Catch the Sun.' And we got such a good response for it we started to write songs for this record," explains Rice.

TOO MANY COOKS?: Six band mates is a lot, but Rice says six never seems like too many, even when they're locked in a small studio.

"Like the title track -- those lyrics were written in the studio as we were recording music for it, as a group. It just came together on the spot. Surprisingly enough, we actually were able to work that out. I've worked with a lot of people where they'll come up with an idea and you'll hate it, or you'll come up with an idea and they'll hate it and then you get nowhere. But somehow with six people we've been able to manage things. It's worked out so far, anyway," he says.

But don't take that to mean they get along 100% of the time, he cautions. "Well, we have screaming arguments, but they're not over music. Because we've been friends for so long, Matt and I can get into knockdown, drag-out fights about, say, a video game we played in eighth grade or something. But definitely not about the music. If anything, we're always extremely supportive of each other and respectful in that aspect of things."

THEIR SCENE: Detroit is home to many music scenes, but Bear Lake hasn't actually found its own yet. And they know they may have to seek it elsewhere. "Right now we're kind of like the loner kid by himself in the lunchroom. We haven't really made too many friends. We have some friends, a couple of bands that we know people from and enjoy their music, but as far as working with other groups, we haven't really got out there and done it yet. Part of it is, we made that first record and then had a big transition as far as the lineup of the band. With this new record, it's almost like they're two different bands," says Rice. "We didn't really get out and perform that much; we spent most of our time writing and recording the new record. So we really haven't had a chance to get out and do that many shows. Now that we have this record out and have a firm grasp on who we are and what we sound like, now we're going to try to get out there and play."

By Erin Podolsky, Free Press Writer - Detroit Free Press


Discography

"If You Were Me" May 2011
"Places on the Side" January 2009
"Catch the Sun" Copyright Bear Lake Music 2008

Photos

Bio

Prime time music placements in some of your favorite shows, sold out performances, headlining festivals, opening for national acts, and a fan base that spans the globe...and that was only Bear Lake's last year. The highly anticipated release of If You Were Me has already met fans with much satisfaction and has them begging for more Bear Lake. Radio stations' phones are ringing off the hook with requests for the single, Scissors, which has debuted at #16 on the CMJ Add Charts after just 1 week and at #147 in the CMJ Top 200 after only 3 weeks of national radio play. Now, Bear Lake is in rotation in over 50 markets nationwide and sits at #127 on the CMJ Top 200, receiving Top 5 airplay in some of the biggest markets in the United States including Chicago, Boston and San Francisco. Rachel May of the Detroit Free Press calls the album "captivating from beginning to end," a true compliment from an accomplished musician and journalist.

Since they formed in January 2008, the members of Bear Lake have shared a common purpose: to make music that matters as a whole, where no one stands above any one else, and everyone has equal access to the spotlight. Five men from Metro Detroit in their late twenties, each bringing their own unique songwriting style to the table, found magic in the fusion of ideas, and harmony in their masterful, melancholy voices. They have been staunch friends since primary school, and bring their music to the masses with the passion and pride of a lifelong family business. They create a gutsy, new wave sound that marries the magic of Band of Horses, the epic might of early Radiohead and the pop sensibility of Guster and Snow Patrol. Their incredible energy draws listeners in quickly to their circle of songs, to the warmth of their stories, and to their collaborative musical journey.

Bear Lake drew critical acclaim from its inception, and Hollywood quickly took note. In the past year alone, Bear Lake has been featured on music-driven network shows such as One Tree Hill, Bones and Melrose Place, as well as Abc’s The Gates and Rookie Blue. They were also placed in Josh Radnor’s (How I Met Your Mother) writing/directing debut film and Sundance 2010 award winner, “Happythankyoumoreplease” starring Malin Ackerman, Kate Mara, Tony Hale and Radnor himself . The band is looking forward to heavy touring in 2011 in support of their newest album release, including shows with Bedouin Soundclash, Tonic, Rick Springfield, Gin Blossoms and more.

Thanks for listening; we hope you enjoy.

If You Were Me, Places on the Side and Catch the Sun can be purchased on both I-tunes and CDbaby.

Band Contact:
Joe Bellanca (586) 212-6506
jb@grandcircusmedia.com

Publicity:
Janelle Rogers
Green Light Go
877.208.6194 X1
janelle@glgpub.com

Radio Contact:Pirate!
Steve - 617.256.8709
Doug - 617.571.8043
Canada - 978.621.4322
radio@piratepirate.com

Bear Lake currently in rotation on the stations listed below. If you don't see your favorite radio station, be sure to call in and request Bear Lake!

SomaFM - San Fransisco
WPRK - Orlando, FL
KLSU - Baton Rouge, LA
WPMG - Portland, Maine
KTCU - Dallas, TX
WPCD - Champaign, IL
KTSW - Austin, TX
WESS - Wilkes-Barre, PA
WRKC - Wilkes-Barre, PA
WRSU - New York,NY
WWHR - Bowling Green, KY
WLUW - Chicago, IL
WXAV - Chicago, IL
KSHU - Houston, TX
KURA - Grand Junction, CO
WOJB - Duluth, MN
WUML - Boston, MA
BIRN - Boston, MA
WMUC - Washington DC
WSYC - Washington DC
WKDU - Philadelphia, PA
WRUW - Cleveland, OH
WKWZ - New York, NY
WMBR - Boston, MA
WMSE - Milwaukee, WI
WCVF - Buffalo, NY
WECI - Dayton, OH
WNHU - Hartford, CT
WRUR - Rochester, NY
WTCC - Springfield, MA
WVOF - New York, NY
WZMB - Greenville, NC
WMVL - New York, NY
KDHX - St. Louis, MO
KRNU - Lincoln, NE
KXSC - Los Angeles, CA
WBCR - Madison, WI
89X - CIMX - Detroit, MI
101.9 FM WDET - Detroit, MI
WSOU - New York, NY
KFMA - Tuscon, AZ
KACV - Amarillo, TX
KPNT - St. Lo