Golden Bear
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Golden Bear

Austin, Texas, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2002 | SELF

Austin, Texas, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2002
Band R&B Glam Rock

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"MTV.com: "A full-fledged power-pop epic.""

Opening with a punchy riff, Golden Bear’s “Borrowed Beginnings” only hints at where the song’s going in its first minute. When it cuts the tempo to half-time and and the xylophone starts chiming in the background, it becomes clear that you’re in for a full-fledged power-pop epic.

“That’s definitely something we were going for when we were recording,” the band’s frontman, Chris Gregory, explains. “The song is one of our live mainstays that never goes out of rotation – a lot of it’s instrumental, and it definitely has that big, epic feel to it.”

While the song is fairly sunny, fitting in with the Austin band’s pop leanings, Gregory says that the riff the song is built around was inspired by an unlikely source. “I had just bought this really cool old MXR distortion pedal, and I was trying to make this almost AC/DC-sounding thing, with a lot of open strings on all the time.” It’s hard to imagine Bon Scott taking on this sort of Arcade Fire-y material, but Golden Bear proves itself more than capable of blending its disparate influences into something special. - MTV


"EW.com featured download: "Ten Thousand Orchestras""

Indie-rockers Golden Bear take their grizzly moniker seriously: There's a drawing of a bear with wings and a shield on the cover of their self-titled debut LP, and their website's background image features a drawing of a guitar with a big bear bite chomped into it. I don't think this song � with its dreamy chorus, trumpet blasts, and bluesy guitar solo � has much to do with honey-loving furries, but it's likely to please fans of bands like Modest Mouse and Built to Spill all the same. - Entertainment Weekly Online


"Spin.com Artist of the Day"

Who? Austin quintet Golden Bear don't need to fake their indie rock chops; they're living the un-glamorous dream to the utmost. Their 2007 sophomore effort, To the Farthest Star (out this week), was recorded in the guest bedroom of the house occupied by frontman Chris Gregory. In the world of Golden Bear, however, Gregory goes by "Grizzle," which seems appropriately quirky for a band -- also featuring keyboardist Matt Gardiner, drummer Andy McAllister, bassist Brent Pennington, and guitarist/vocalist Jamie Reaves -- that dubbed their sound "Galactic-Forest-Rock" and will be touring outside of Texas for the first time this June.

What's the deal? Golden Bear's signature sound blends Gregory's throaty, honest voice and unpretentious lyrics with a poppy, energetic resonance. To the Farthest Star allows sweet piano interludes to lead into accessible, sing-along lyrics, sometimes culminating in surprisingly pleasing trumpet calls or -- in the title track -- string accents. Shades of a Green-album era Rivers Cuomo come out in Gregory's blissfully hopefully crooning in "Glitter Girls," while a synth-infused sound all their own shine through on "Galaxy Queen." Though the band's sheer energy has been declared Arcade-Fire like, To the Farthest Star ultimately sacrifices the latter's unparalleled crescendos and soaring choruses in favor of an affectionate intimacy with the listener.

Fun Fact: Despite his growing indie street cred, Gregory hasn't quit his day job. As a middle school science teacher, he likes to keep his work and music lives separate: don't expect a Golden Bear concert during recess anytime soon. EMMA LIND - Spin.com


"Blender: #10 Download of the Month"

Blender Magazine's June edition named "Galaxy Queen" as the #10 song of the month to download, right after Maroon 5's "Makes Me Wonder" and before the White Stripes' "Icky Thump": "From a furry Texas indie crew, rollicking riff-rock about an
intergalactic love affair with evil." - Blender


"Pitchfork: "Santa Rosa" (Free Download)"

Golden Bear doesn't claim to have the patent on unironic, super-melodic, over-the top indie rock, but after hearing their debut record, you might find yourself making that claim for them. Produced by Erik Wofford (Voxtrot, Explosions in the Sky, the Black Angels), the album sparkles with grizzly goodness from beginning to end, and features contributions from members of Voxtrot, The Black Angels, and Tia Carrera, as well as Will Oldham cohort Pink Nasty and pedal steel legend Lloyd Maines. "Santa Rosa", the fourth track from the LP, features an addictive Wurlitzer riff paired with an irresistible booty-shakin' beat and builds into a triumphant call for celebration. With one foot in the forest and one foot resting firmly on the rings of Saturn, Golden Bear reaches to the heavens with all its earnest might. RIYL: the Flaming Lips, the Who, Built to Spill. - Pitchfork


"Austin Chronicle: "Big guitars, spiraling piano runs, brazen lyrics: Golden Bear roars.""

Golden Bear thrives on bombastic but inviting energy, ambitious in sound but warmly ramshackle and optimistic in ethos. Following the cosmic tour of 2007 sophomore effort To the Farthest Star, the local quintet went into hibernation, which makes its tight return on Alive all the more thrilling. Beginning with the first blared chords of opener "The Juggernaut," GB pounces aggressively and precisely, while producer Danny Reisch couches Chris Gregory's typically grizzled vocals in effects that serve that sound well. "Promise Not To Tell" bursts with epic percussion, and Matt Gardiner's keyboard likewise pulses with power on the swirling turns of "The Ruin." Cutting the familiar Golden Bear melodic surge with a harder edge, "Prospect Park" serves as the standout, while "All Your Lucky Days" hammers grandeur in sharply punched rhythms. Big guitars, spiraling piano runs, brazen lyrics: Golden Bear roars. - Austin Chronicle


"The Big Takeover: "Echoes the best work of the Elephant 6 crowd – tuneful, dreamy, with an edge of weirdness that feels genuinely eccentric.""

Austin’s Golden Bear has been quietly releasing sterling guitar pop records for several years now, with nary a ripple on the radar of the hipster faithful. Their loss, frankly – as Alive proves, the band is on an upward creative swing. This third LP eases up on the louder aspects of the group’s sound – Golden Bear sounds less like a psychedelic Cheap Trick than it did in its early days. Alive instead echoes the best work of the Elephant 6 crowd – tuneful, dreamy, with an edge of weirdness that feels genuinely eccentric, rather than forced. Tunes like “Wait For the Signal,” “Promise Not to Tell” and “Borrowed Beginnings” evince a sense of singalong pop songcraft that bespeaks a mature band coming into its own, rather than aping its influences. Alive isn’t quite the grand statement of which Golden Bear is clearly capable, but it’s surely the manifesto that precedes it. - The Big Takeover


"Austin Monthly: "Dreamy, piano-driven rock operas.""

Golden Bear's latest LP, "Alive" deserves better than to be played through tinny laptop speakers. Discarding the basic verse-chorus song structure for something more resembling movements, the group does more than craft songs. It scores dreamy, piano-driven rock operas. Tracks like "The Ruin" and "Borrowed Beginnings" are particularly cinematic in their scope, while "Myths" has a Pink Floyd-meets-Queen vibe. When you get to "Wait for the Signal", do as the lyrics say and "turn up the sound... and sing the loudest song you know." - Austin Monthly


"No Depression: "Melds stadium-sized hooks with nuanced melodies and swelling sentiments.""

Having crafted a sound that melds stadium-sized hooks with nuanced melodies and swelling sentiments, Golden Bear deliver a third album that lives up to its name in more ways than one. Despite the fact that they hail from Austin, this is not your typical Americana outfit; to the contrary, their spacious sound and muscular refrains provide a bold, broad MO, one that can accommodate both the daring designs of songs like “The Juggernaut” and “Prospect Park” as well as the ornate instincts of “Who We Are.” Muscular yet melodic, Golden Bear seems poised to make their mark, not only in its hometown but in destinations far beyond. Indeed, the fact that they don’t fit easily into any particular niche should serve them well, attracting listeners who find their well-crafted tunes too compelling to resist. - No Depression:


"Leicester Bangs: "No-nonsense, club-friendly indie rock.""

Straight out of the blocks, the first track, "The Juggernaut", had me transported back in the late 1990s, as The Posies and Built To Spill came to mind, with The Flaming Lips making more than a guest appearance. The following "Promise Not To Tell" confirmed it, with the song cascading down around my ears, filling every corner of the room. A perfect example of no-nonsense, club-friendly indie rock. "The Ruin" has a superb piano opening, and once the sound has built up to a near crescendo, it all calms down, with the piano again to the fore, encouraging the vocals to aspire to greater heights. This is a true highlight, just about steering clear of the anthemic by making the arrangement a tad complicated, and not allowing a chorus to arrive and then be repeated.

However, this young band can’t quite deliver a full album of these delights. This, their second album, isn’t a complete success, and doesn’t fulfill the promise of those superb early tracks. After the very slightly prog "Who We Are" (well, maybe that's just me thinking aloud, as it has a rush about it that just cannot fit the prog tag at all - far too pacey) the music levels off, despite the ardent musicianship. Perhaps the songs aren't strong enough, or the musical ideas were found wanting. They almost redeem themselves with "Wait For The Signal", and actually do make it back to top form with the last track, "Not Tonight", which gives "The Ruin" a run for 'best song / tune' here, again with a piano centre stage, a superbly well thought out track.

This is definitely worth checking out, and I imagine their next might even be more on the money. Still, if I were you, I’d cash in now, and get there before the (possible) rush. - Leicester Bangs


"TRT Reviews: "This album is, in a word, awesomepic.""

At times, Golden Bear comes across as Secret Machines reinterpreting The Soft Bulletin (see: “Promise Not To Tell”). Other times, the Austin-based group chugs along with a hint of the classic rock cum pop of groups like Steel Train (see: “Prospect Park”). Of course, Golden Bear’s new album, Alive, doesn’t really sound like any of those groups, while completely sounding a bit like all of them.

It’s a tight record, checking in at just under 36 minutes. In that time, the five dudes that make up Golden Bear make a compelling argument for the listeners attention. In fact, this might be the best guitar pop album I’ve heard all year. I was pretty much sold on Alive 30 seconds into “The Juggernaut”, and by the time I made it to “Who We Are”, I was all in. This album is, in a word, awesomepic.

You can listen to Golden Bear’s Alive on Bandcamp in its entirety, and I recommend shelling out some money to actually buy it. We need this band to stick around for a while yet. - TRT Reviews


"Austin Chronicle review: "To The Farthest Star""

SXSW Reviews

BY DARCIE STEVENS

Golden Bear

To the Farthest Star (C-Side)

When the Royal Forest Horns raise their trumpets and release their fanfare, Golden Bear's second album in less than a year explodes in jubilation. The Austin quintet doesn't force elation; it comes with the territory: a bright, clear beam from the fragile vox of lead Bear Chris Gregory and local guest Pink Nasty. Like a precious gem, To the Farthest Star revels in its imperfections. The discordant and battling layers lend the album a lovely candor, although a bit more sporadic than GB's eponymous debut. Opening with Polyphonic Spree/Flaming Lips amalgam "Galaxy Queen," GB continues down a path of exaltation with "The Gospel Truth" and the euphonious, string-laden title track. Gregory's storytelling – uncontrived and innocent – saves us all with "Stars and Women," a pleading message to Mary. The troupe might have jumped the gun slightly with this Erik Wofford-mastered journal, but it's just a hint of the band's triumphant live shows. - Austin Chronicle


"Austin American Statesmen: Four star "Golden Bear" album review"

There always will be a market — mass, cult, whatever — for indie rock this vibrant, harmonies this close and feelings this good. Austin's own Golden Bear has a sonically mid-fi quality that, at first listen, seems to smear together the details of its rushing power pop. But your head adjusts soon enough, and suddenly the clarion-call trumpets, piano magic and fuzzy-wuzzy guitars that aren't above breaking out a quick, wheedling solo spring into focus. After all, songs this strong generate a motion and power of their own, powered by a seemingly endless wellspring of hooks and asides. Some of the tunes feature as many as 10 folks banging on trash cans and fooling with the space echo, which certainly will remind some people of ultra-hip pop collectives such as the Arcade Fire. What's really impressive is that Golden Bear easily can give the sainted Fire a run for the money in tunes, energy and sheer exuberance. - Austin American Statesmen


"Slug Magazine "Golden Bear" review"

An apparent slew of various novelty instruments really makes Golden Bear's self-titled debut an enjoyable first listen. Upon further listening and a look at the linear notes, where each instrument used is listed track by track with its respective musician, it's safe to say that this album will be a memorable debut. The first track, "A Reason To Be Proud," is rightfully titled due to its simple-yet-catchy opening guitar riff and fuzzy layerd vocals, making it the highlight of the album. "Golden Bear Revival Stomp" features some of the aforementioned creative instruments such as the xylophone, a trash can lid, and a can of nuts. The album was recorded and co-produced by Erik Wofford, who has also recorded My Morning Jacket, The Octopus Project, and Explosions in the Sky. Another surprise is the contribution from pedal steel legend Lloyd Maines on "The Saddest Songs," which combines country twang and Pink Nasty proclaiming "these are the days we're living for/And there's no way that we'll be sad tonight!" Maines is also known as the father of Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks. This debut effort, full of honest indie-pop, is sure to keep your head bobbing and your toe tapping for hours. And face it; what else could you expect from a band that uses a Wurlitzer? - Slug Magazine


"Austin Chronicle *Recommended* Live Preview"

RECOMMENDED (08/04/06 @ Flamingo Cantina)
When was the last time you pulled out your flower-print polyester button-up? A local bill high on life and down with depression culminates with this C-Side Records showcase, featuring Austin sevenpiece the Channel and their latest double LP, Tales From the Two Hill Heart/Sibylline Machine. The Channel’s alter ego, Golden Bear, warms up with their new eponymous debut, chock-full of guest appearances (Lloyd Maines, Jason Morales, Black Angels, Voxtrot) and summer grooves. Driftin’ Luke & His Many Personalities open. Easy, breezy, and beautiful. - Darcie Stevens - Austin Chronicle


"Dallas Observer Live Preview"

Fans of Beulah still stinging from their break-up two years ago would be wise to check out the pairing of Golden Bear and the Channel, two Austin groups that share that band's killer songcraft and So-Cal pop sensibilities. Five members pull double duty between the two, with Golden Bear recalling the fuzzed-out psych-pop of mid-'90s Flaming Lips or Grandaddy (aided on their self-titled debut by fellow Austinite Pink Nasty, who nearly steals the show with the buoyant country-pop of "The Saddest Songs"), while the Channel mines a sadder, country-tinged vein of the same sun-dappled genre--complete with Fruit Bat hooks and Beach Boy harmonies. For warm summer sounds, there's no better bill around. - Noah Bailey - Dallas Observer


"Blog buzz: Ten Thousand Orchestras"

Based out of (you guessed it!) Austin, TX, these guys are half 90s rock and half 00’s indie pop.
I had to check the album credits to make sure this wasn’t another Damon Albarn-fronted band. It’s very Blur-like, but has just enough indie-pop in it to keep it from being a lame 90s throwback. Rather, it’s remarkably forward-thinking and broad in scope–almost like Arcade Fire, but in a very different genre. - You Ain't No Picasso


Discography

Golden Bear (LP) - 8/06
To the Farthest Star (LP) - 4/07
Everest (EP) - 2/09
Alive (LP) - 10/11

Currently receiving radio airplay at college radio stations across the country are the following songs:
- "Prospect Park"
- "Who We Are"
- "Borrowed Beginnings"

Photos

Bio

In August 2006, Austin's Golden Bear announced itself to the world with a melodious roar. The band's self-titled debut, co-produced by Erik Wofford [My Morning Jacket, Explosions in the Sky, The Octopus Project], featured collaborations with luminaries of the Austin music scene including Will Oldham cohort Pink Nasty and pedal steel legend Lloyd Maines.

In 2007, Golden Bear self-produced their follow-up, entitled "To the Farthest Star", which garnered even more favorable reviews and fans. The band took the show on the road for their first tour of the eastern US that summer.

Following 2009's teaser EP, "Everest", Golden Bear released their most recent album, "Alive" in late 2011. Produced by Austin's Producer of the Year, Danny Reisch, “Alive� provides a healthy dose of pop and heavy progressive rock, suitable for blasting out of speakers of all sizes. Entirely self-promoted and self-funded, "Alive" won Golden Bear its best press and critical success to date.

After SXSW 2013 and a handful of shows that spring and summer, Golden Bear spent a great deal of time working on the next full-length, the slowed-down and funked-up "Dimensional Place". The album features new lady vocalist K8Tronic. The album has a release date of February 19, 2016.

The sound of "Dimensional Place" detours so far from the sound of Golden Bear's previous albums that the band was intent on changing their name for a period of time. However, in the end, it was decided that Golden Bear is Golden Bear.

It will have been nearly five years since their previous LP when "Dimensional Place" is released, and Golden Bear is determined to make it hit hard.

Golden Bear has played official showcases at SXSW 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. After a long break, the band looks forward to a fun show at the 2016 conference.

Band Members