P4K on “Arty Connecticut Liberal Arts University”

Pitchfork Gives Wesleyan its First 7.1 in Eight Years?

I kid: Pitchfork may not actually rate liberal arts colleges, but if they did, I suspect Wes would rank near the top of the pile (see: MGMT, Das Racist, Santigold, Boy Crisis, Amazing BabyVillage Voice on Wes as the “epicenter of surrealist Brooklyn pop,” NME on Wesleyan’s “Nest of Noise”).

The latest purveyor of Wesleyan as a bastion of psychedelic-tinged hipness? Brooklyn-based quartet Bear Hands (Dylan Rau ’07, Ted Feldman ’09, Val Loper, and TJ Orscher), which formed in 2006 and has played at Wes a few times in recent memory, most notably opening for MGMT’s Beckham Hall show in April, 2008.

Today, Pitchfork posts a largely positive review of the band’s debut, the awesomely titled Burning Bush Supper Club, and praises it as “the album [MGMT sophomore record] Congratulations should have been: one that sharpens the lush, hedonistic surrealism of reverb-laden psych-rock into tightly focused anthems that are just anarchic enough as to be unpredictable.”

Of even more interest, perhaps, is the review’s opening paragraph, which, like Village Voice and NME before it, marvels at the Wes psychedelic indie-rock phenomenon:

Does Wesleyan, the arty Connecticut liberal arts university, attract boys with raw, nasal voices and penchants for shimmering keyboards and huge waves of overdubbed psychedelic guitars to its halls, or does the school simply turn its students into those sorts of musicians? Either way, it has quite a track record of contributing to the Brooklyn music scene (see: MGMT, Amazing Baby, and the other band of Das Racist’s Victor Vazquez, Boy Crisis). And now, following the success of MGMT, Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden’s former classmates and opening act Bear Hands have thrown their hat into the ring too, finally releasing their full-length debut three years after issuing the Golden EP.

Good show, Pitchfork—a cleverly phrased summation of our little school’s recent impact in the indie world without tending towards snarky mockery or absurd hyperbole. And, in response to that opening query, I’d like to think it’s a little bit of both.

Read the full review here, stream tracks from the album here, order it here, and check out past Argus interviews with Bear Hands members here and here.

Shoutbox is on point today—thanks for the tip.

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  1. Pingback: Bear Hands Return to Wes – Wesleying

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