By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
Cold Bear Scout is the recording project of Steven Colbert, who isn't to be confused with arch-satirist Stephen Colbert. His Let's Meet the Sun and the Moon release is a brief but rewarding glimpse into his style of off-kilter folk rock. There's a rootsy, ramshackle quality to many of Moon's songs, but Cold Bear Scout's sound is shot through with enough static, feedback and twinkly percussion to build a bridge between freak folk and mainstream indie. "From Time to Time" initially coasts on the metallic plunks of a kalimba, but it's not long before some ragged electric guitar and the deep beat of a floor tom steer the song toward a decidedly more rocking conclusion. This progression from bucolic whimsy to sonic spelunking guides much of the EP.
For this recording Colbert is joined by members of Exercise and So Many Dynamos, but these songs spiral out with such engaging, occasionally off-putting vocals and lyrics that Colbert remains at each song's center regardless of what goes on around him. His voice recalls a few heroes of left-field alt-rock (especially Matthew Sweet and Sugar-era Bob Mould) while also touching on the skewed musings of Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock and Built to Spill's Doug Martsch. Colbert's lyrics, which seem to be a mix of singer-songwriter confessionals, fractured storytelling and stream-of-consciousness overflow, sometimes put too much strain on his vocals, however. The adolescent sexual fumblings of "Some Other Dirty Things" could almost be an outtake from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea if his overly manic voice could shoulder the weight. But across the board, Moon's songs show confidence, tunefulness and a willingness to venture into dark and knotty territories without losing their melodic cores.
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