Fleet Foxes’ sophomore album did a fantastic job of expanding their mountain-folk/Cat Steven’s channeling songs from the more accessibly upbeat tracks on their debut to thicker and deeper cuts. The album also served to deliver these sounds to a new audience. Now, Daniel Rossen of Grizzly Bear seems to be working with similar influences on his debut solo EP. These pieces treat their influences seriously, and they neither rehash nor bolster themselves with cheaper material.
Rossen sounds a bit like Julian Koster of The Music Tapes. Up On High begins the EP off with a similar slow twanging and air of something mystic that The Music Tapes sometimes channel. Rossen remains close to the listener. An acoustic guitar is slowly strummed. There’s a careful and deep bass being plucked and strings that occasionally croon in to fill it all out. Throughout the EP are hints of the Beatles, very brief, but clear nonetheless. Return to Form breaks into a Beatles-like mess of noise before switching into a glam, Bowie-esque “oooo-oooo”.
There are a lot of varied sounds here, though it’s hardly a chunky quilt of influences. Silent Song has Rossen singing a bit like Lennon. There’s a myriad of smaller notes mixed with strums and metal jingles. It all creates a surprising texture through the different instruments. Saint Nothing is the most notably different of the bunch. We can hear movement in the room, breathing, shifting, footsteps. It’s largely Rossen on piano. The personality of the instrument and the room work to create a sense of isolation. “Lift your head,” he sings, but he seems to be alone.
We’re left with Golden Mile, a track strongly in the vain of the Cat Steven’s brand of folk being worked with. There’s upbeat and warm strumming, a guitar whining like individual fireworks shooting off. “But you can’t run from me,” he sings. Briefly, the guitar becomes stuttered. “Come along, leave me be.”
Rossen’s debut is strong. It shows promise for a fantastic LP some day and for the forthcoming promised Grizzly Bear album this year. Their last, Veckatimest, was highly acclaimed. We should be eager to hear what Rossen works on next.