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Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF

Cleveland, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Pop Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos




Discovering a great new pop record has to be one of the few pure pleasures left it this world. Finding something reminiscent of greatness, without being derivative, something that's catchy, without out wearing thin in a short space of time is extremely rare, even, or perhaps especially, when you're in the relatively unique position of receiving volumes of new music on a fairly regular basis. In order to stand out from the masses, without being overtly weird takes a unique gift, one Bears thankfully possess.

Sure there are moments that evoke their predecessors. "How to Live" sounds a good deal like a cross between a slightly more upbeat version of Elliott Smith's self-titled record, and the haunting, ethereal quality of much of The Shins' debut. "Still Alright" and "Things I Should Say" feel a bit like a lullabies sung in the baroque pop harmonies of The Zombies or The Left Banke. "Daydreams" may be a little too mid-70s AM Radio for its own good.

Save of course for that final example, one would be hard pressed to come up with a list of better influences in the world of pop songcraft. Bears are fortunately able to harness these, while churning out product uniquely their own, with diversity that becomes all the more apparent with each repeat listen. - Aversion


I recently reviewed a record by a band that attempted to toss a nod to The Kinks, one of the finest quirky pop bands of the 20th century, and that record failed miserably. I will not mention the artist's name, but I will address the issue with much more grace and understanding, with respect to the record of this little outfit from the wholesome and polite Midwestern United States. Fortunately, this band picks up the ball with much more ingenuity and energy than the aforementioned.

The problem with much indie-pop in this new millennium stems from the fact that new song writers tend to let their influence run through the bands that currently inhabit their generation. This is the same problem that invades the troubled main-stream music industry. Carbon copies upon carbon copies, infused with horribly over-produced and overly-executed studio recordings; thousands of bands converging upon the same sound and creating a mire of degenerate mediocre pop/rock, "mixing it up" with many a convoluted variation.

There's nothing wrong with going for a certain sound, but the most successful songwriters take their influences from the original source. Digging through the graveyard of music history, those writers unearth for themselves long forgotten gems and lost treasures. Immersing oneself in that richness is the secret to successfully executing a solid pop record.

So the Bears come along with their shovels and turntables, dusting off some old record sleeves, locking themselves away in their studio or bedroom (wherever they did it), to stir into their cake mix some sweet and tasty indie-pop magic. Obvious mentions of The Zombies and The Kinks don't even do this record justice. You might hear the Byrds, The Creation, Kaleidoscope, The Association, The Left Banke, The Who, and an innumerable amount of other greats from the mid-twentieth century when songwriting climbed to an all-time peak.

This self-titled collection is no carbon copy. It's a time warped science experiment that shows up among few other talented present-day compositions. Yeah, I liked this record, how could you tell? Did I give myself away somehow? - Indie Workshop

"Bears CD"

Cleveland's Bears have a fascination with the sunnier side of the twee-poppers of the eighties and delightfully sugared sixties bubblegum, which is to say that their self-titled disc is pretty much all sweetness and light. Strummed acoustic guitars, gentle pianos, chiming glockenspiels, and airy harmonies abound on Bears. Kicking off with "Never Have To Guess," a spryly paced tune that would not be out of place on a Sarah Records release circa 1990, the band embark on a short journey (13 songs over 36 minutes) of nostalgia and beauty. The group are gaining a certain amount of buzz of late, and perhaps this owes to an unstudied naivete about their music that recalls an early Belle and Sebastian, yet with a distinctively optimistic American worldview. One of the album's standouts, "How To Live," offers Simon and Garfunkel harmonies wrapped in a slightly sinister Farfisa organ, and can't but bring a smile to the most curmudgeonly listener. - Skyscraper

"Tracks of Their Tears"

Think of Bears as something like a rudimentary weather machine. They fashion sunny nuggets of '60s psych-pop and breezy, jangling bursts of melody that disguise sometimes bittersweet sentiments. The recording duo of drummer Craig Ramsey and guitarist Charlie McArthur expands to a six-piece in concert, to recreate the rich texture and details of the band's self-titled debut.

At a recent Spot show on the Case Western Reserve campus, Ramsey and McArthur initially set out by themselves, each on an acoustic guitar. They ran through a pair of new songs, including "I Know You're Gone," whose urgent melody recalls the Wedding Present, with the classic pop undertones of the Rosebuds. The Flaming Lips' "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" -- an appropriate musical touchstone -- played as the rest of the members took the stage. Over the course of their set, the sextet sampled from a variety of pop styles, including the acid-pop of Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd ("Over It"), the sleepy swoon of the Velvet Underground ("Everywhere"), and the bounding folk of the Byrds ("Walk Away"). Keyboards and organ contributed heavily to the lush, irrepressible hooks.

The show was imbued with the feel of a college mixtape, full of longing and idealism destined for sorrow. The vibe was epitomized by the bustling melody of "When You're Away," whose anxious sketch of a breakup discussion is punctuated by the dumpee's lament, "It's harder when you're away." Sun-kissed, sad, and impossibly infectious, Bears' music rings with hope, even as you sense it won't come to a kind end.

McArthur sang on, intoning, "It doesn't matter what I choose or why." As the set ended, the final thick, swelling chords blanketed the room, providing welcome comfort amid the relentless wave of heartache. - Cleveland Scene Magazine


Despite having a very unassuming and even unmemorable name, Cleveland’s Bears have just released a debut album that is much harder to forget. Fitting in quite nicely with the likes of the Boy Least Likely To, early Belle & Sebastian and other inhabitants of the indie-pop kingdom, they’re unashamedly lo-fi and incredibly twee. Bears is a very focussed album with 13 songs clocking it at less than 36 minutes, leaving absolutely no time for filler. The length really isn’t a problem at all and even the shorter songs that don’t even make it to the two-minute mark somehow don’t feel rushed or incomplete because there are so many ideas and neat arrangements here. In fact, there’s a real carefree air about the record that makes it a joy to listen to, thanks to its complete lack of pretensions. This is an album that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on labels like Creation or El back in the late ’80s, and there are even moments that could date back even further thanks to the Zombies-esque keyboards. A debut that people might look back at years from now and wonder how it managed to slip through the cracks unnoticed, but given enough exposure, it wouldn’t take long for folks to realise that Bears are doing something pretty special here. (Independent) - Exclaim Magazine


Bears are from Cleveland, OH. If you see them live, they have six members, but at the band's core are Craig Ramsey and Charlie McArthur. These two friends wrote and recorded this self-titled LP between July 2005 and March 2006 at "Charlie's house." Between the two of them, they contributed drums, keys, bells, tambourine, guitar, bass, handclaps and vocals, ensuring that, if nothing else, they could at least brag about being "multi-instrumentalists." These two young men thankfully have much more to brag about with their Bears LP.

The 13-song offering is filled to the brim with indie pop magic. The subject matter might not always be the sunniest, but the songs are upbeat and cheery in their presentation and draw easy comparisons to likes of Camera Obscura or a stripped down Belle & Sebastian.

Bight acoustic guitar strumming and two part harmonies atop a bed of keys and simple percussion are a common occurrence on this album. Songs like "Walk Away," "Everywhere," "When You're Away," and "Days" are all prime examples, while "How To Live" is a synth-heavy, almost Elliott Smith-leaning affair and album closer, "Stay," is an up-tempo, kick & snare drum-heavy rocker.

In all honesty, the recordings don't sound entirely awesome. The vocals can get a little lost in the mix at times and sometimes the whole thing just sounds a little muddy. But don't take that as a dig against the band, because those are issues that can be easily corrected in a proper studio (hell, even in a really nice home studio). The important thing is that Craig and Charlie have proved themselves to be more than capable songwriters and musicians and have put Bears on the map as a band with extraordinary potential for fantastic success in this business (or at least a recording contract at a larger indie label). - The Tripwire

"Bears - Shortest Day Of The Year"

A short EP with tunes that are slightly reminiscent of The Hang Ups. Though this EP only offers seven tunes, it will certainly serve to whet the appetites of the band's growing legion of fans. "Those Years" and "Losing My Love" are without a doubt two of the niftiest pop tunes we've heard thus far this year. Our only complaint is the length of this disc. After hearing sixteen minutes...we really wanted to hear more, more, more. Hopefully this will be followed up in the very near future with a full-length album... (Rating: 5) - LMNOP/Babysue

"Bears CD"

Comprised of singer/songwriters Craig Ramsey and Charlie McArthur, Cleveland’s Bears play perfectly executed wistful and bittersweet pop. The band--which expands to six members in a live setting--are loaded with charm, and the thirteen numbers here showcase their penchant for producing subtle, but unforgettable hooks. “Everywhere" is a dreamy shuffle of pure longing; the winning jangle of “Days" is impossible to resist; and the fuzzy acoustica of “Still Alright" brings to mind Alan McGee’s underrated outfit Biff Bang Pow. What makes Bears work so well is that, understated as these tracks are, they have an endearing, woebegone appeal. The two men’s voices blend in and out of each other, creating a blurry, yet absorbing, sonic vortex. “Things I Should Say" and “Goodbye Song" both sound like lost classics from the soft-rock revolution; the hand-clap fueled “Still the Same" is mesmerizing; and the ‘60s pop closer suggests the psychedelia of The Zombies. Also, Kate Pugsley’s stunning cover art bears mentioning. - Amplifier


Simple Machinery CD (2009, Fastcut Records in Japan - 2008, self-released in US)
[college radio highlights: Wait and See, Please Don't]

Snowman 7" (2009), self-released)

Who Knows 7" (2008, Impose Records)

Shortest Day Of The Year CD-EP (2007, self-released)
[college radio highlight: You Can Tell]

Bears CD/LP (2006, self-released)
[college radio highlights: How To Live, Everywhere]



Charlie McArthur and Craig Ramsey began recording as Bears in the summer of 2005. Their first album happened, almost by accident, in about eight months. This self-titled album was self-released in April 2006, and the band soon received praise from publications like Skyscraper, Alternative Press, Amplifier, and Impose Magazine, among many others. The record also received considerable college radio play, hitting #94 on the CMJ Top 200 in August of the same year.

The pair continued to write music as winter began in Ohio, and the songs took on a slightly darker tone. The aptly-titled "Shortest Day of the Year" EP was released at the end of winter, and, once again, great reviews rolled in from places like The Big Takeover, 30 Music and Urban Pollution. The EP also hit #95 on the CMJ Top 200 after receiving a good deal of airplay.

2007 saw interesting things happening for Bears' music, as they received great press from SPIN Magazine, and the song "How To Live" was featured on a compilation CD from Urban Outfitters Stores & Filter Magazine, along with Radiohead, Tegan & Sara, Sea Wolf, The Weakerthans and a bunch more. The guys also took their show on the road, where they expand to a six-piece on stage. Several tours have taken the band to New York City, Austin, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and everywhere in between.

In 2008, the band self-released a 12" vinyl pressing of the first album, and Impose Records released a two-song 7" featuring the live favorite "Who Knows" on the A-side. Alternative Press Magazine named them one of "100 Bands to Watch in 2008."

Craig and Charlie also released their sophomore album, Simple Machinery, in 2008, following it with a quick East Coast tour with PWRFL Power and Ghosty.

2009 saw Simple Machinery released in Japan on Fastcut Records (The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Dylan Mondegreen, etc). The band also self-released a 4-song 7" called Snowman just in time for Christmas.

2011 will be a great year for Bears as they record their third album, to be released on Misra Records. Fun will be had, and songs will be sung!