As a freshman in college, I got stuck in a pretty bad situation in the dorms. I was one of four in a cramped, smelly room. One quiet, early-to-bed-early-to-rise alongside three not-so-quiet night owls. One reader alongside three…well, I won’t go into detail, pending legal outcomes.
Daniel Rossen, singer/songwriter of Grizzly Bear, was much luckier. At NYU, he and roommate Fred Nicolaus formed the dreamy, glitchy collage duo, Whitey on the Moon UK, recording in their bedroom and giving out the result to friends. They wound up releasing an LP and two singles on California indie label Isota before running into a San Fran group calling themselves Whitey on the Moon. So, before releasing their debut full length, they changed the name to the much more blog-able Department of Eagles.
Recent output from the duo incorporates more and more folk structure, leaving behind the found-sound aesthetic that featured on the older material. That’s not to say they lost their fuzzy side. Instead, it’s a fusion of the Brian Wilson song structure and the modern freak folk style.
2008’s In Ear Park hit pretty big on a lot of the end of the year lists around the internet. Sometimes eerie, often melancholy, always moody, the record is perfect for this time of year, as wind and snow swirl around and night falls early. The album features contributions from friends in Rossen’s other band, Chris Bear and Chris Taylor.
But the appeal definitely goes beyond fans of Grizzly Bear. Where Yellow House was sugary and dreamy, In Ear Park is anxious and dreary. There’s a similar attraction to freak folk and harmony. The sonic palettes are just different enough to set them completely apart.
As Department of Eagles came together again in 2007, after Rossen’s Grizzly Bear-centric days, they recruited their fellow bandmates from Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors members as touring musicians, and head back on the road. The result, apparently, is a little rougher than the record, a little less controlled. Which is something I along with everyone attending this week’s Tomorrow Never Knows should definitely be excited to see.
“No One Does It Like You”
Department of Eagles 2009 Tour Dates:
01/15 – Chicago, IL @ Tomorrow Never Knows
01/16 – Columbus, OH @ Wexner Center for the Art
01/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
01/18 – Cambridge, MA @ The Brattle Theatre
01/19 – New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
01/23 – W. Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
01/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Cafe Du Nord
01/27 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
01/28 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos