Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Department of Eagles at the Doug Fir

The Doug Fir was packed last night for the Department of Eagles, Brooklyn's classical and experimentally minded pop group helmed by a few members of Grizzly Bear. The Cave Singers got the night started, Seattle's latest bearded alt-americana group as drenched in reverb. I can't really say I got into them, for beyond the lead singer's vocal affectations,an invisible bass player (do i smell a loop?) and one-trick-pony songwriting style, I can think of at least two other alt-beard-reverb-rock groups from the Puget Sound I'd rather listen to (i.e. Band of Horses, Fleet Foxes).

No matter, the Department of Eagles certainly held it down. Not an offshoot or side project of Grizzly Bear, DoE actually started years earlier, but was sidelined by Grizzly Bear's runaway success. Front man Daniel Rossen has certainly made good use of his time in getting this band back on track, they were as tight and expansive as on their new album, In Ear Park. In other words, despite the lack of one or two other singers (the vocals on the album were padded by the rest of GB, giving it that ethereal, 'this is God's house' sound), all the texture on record was at the show. Rossen opened and closed the show solo, the first song with the banjo, a really wonderfully plucked rendition of In Ear Park.

Phantom Other was the song that really had me blown away, with other founding member Fred Nicholaus playing the samples like it was the last sampler on earth. Not that live shows ought to always sound like their studio recorded counterparts, but I was pretty blown away at them recreating that song almost exactly as it is on the record, and without any lame bass or ambient loops.

The only looping that was done was a Battles style vocal loop from Rossen, which was amazing. On his final solo song, a brand new won, apparently, he made a vocal loop of about 4 layers and played on top of that. Really amazing.

Jeff Guay

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