Grizzly Bear started as founder Edward Droste’s bedroom recordings for a solo project — the name came from an old boyfriend’s nickname, and it stuck. In 2004, Droste released Grizzly Bear’s debut album, “Horn of Plenty,” accompanied by a future full-time bandmate, the aptly named Christopher Bear, on drums.
Droste quickly saw the upside of playing with other musicians. “I was quite happy to relinquish the idea of being a solo artist,” he would tell The Scotsman in an interview many years later. “I hate the thought of being under a spotlight with my guitar, mumbling into a microphone. It’s horribly scary to me.”
With that, a band was born. And not long after, Droste and his mates were touring with the likes of Radiohead, and could count among their fans Radiohead guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood, who in 2008 pronounced Grizzly Bear his new favorite band. In between the band’s third and fourth studio albums came the Grizzly Bear-scored soundtrack for the 2010 film, “Blue Valentine,” starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.
The band’s sound is an atmospheric mélange of psychedelia, indie rock, folk pop and experimental music. There’s a distinct Beach Boys flair to the music, and further proof of their harmonious intent lies in a 2010 cover of The Crystals’ “He Hit Me (And It Felt Like A Kiss).” Grizzly Bear’s haunting version improves on the original by adding dark undertones to an already devious justification of spousal abuse.
“Painted Ruins,” the groups fifth full length, landed in August to widespread critical praise. Grizzly Bear teased the new album — its first for a major label (RCA) — with mysterious online videos and issued the first single, “Three Rings,“ at midnight on May 4 in each successive time zone across the world.
Droste told Spin Magazine: “This is my favorite record that we’ve ever made, personally. We didn’t have a label [when we recorded it]; we were just like ‘If this is gonna happen, it’s gonna happen.’ We’re a democracy; there’s no leader.” For a band that started out as a solo project in a bedroom in Brooklyn, Grizzly Bear has capitalized on the possibilities afforded to musicians open to new ideas and experimentation.