Grizzly Bear: The Judges’ Verdict On “Veckatimest”

Tony Wadsworth: I loved this album, again it was one of those things where you didn’t know what was going to happen next. It mixed together styles and arrangements that were completely original and unpredictable.

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Tony Wadsworth: I loved this album, again it was one of those things where you didn’t know what was going to happen next. It mixed together styles and arrangements that were completely original and unpredictable.

You hear people talk about records where the guitar sounds like it’s in another room, but there’s one song here where it sounds like the guitar is an another album. It’s completely from leftfield. But it’s also very soulful as well, it didn’t strike me as being too clever-clever. It just struck me as people who really know how to play together well, almost like jazz musicians.


There’s a beautifully loose drum sound to it, in fact all the instruments sound beautiful. There’s some great melodies, the Pet Sounds thing coming back in again. It had a bit of everything for me, this album. It’s got a great mood to it, you can let it wash over you, or you can sit down and listen to it very intently. Some of these albums start with a great mood but tend to lose it about halfway through, but I think this is a phenomenal album.

Billy Bragg: See, I was the opposite of that. I found myself thinking, ‘for fuck’s sake, do something else’. Some of the albums on the long list of 25 had me understanding why kids are downloading things for free. If I was buying these albums and found only one or two tracks that appealed I’d be well pissed off. I think the lack of dynamics on some of these albums, the lack of light and shade, I found that a real problem. This is a nice enough record, I just wanted it to go somewhere. Some of these records you can imagine driving on a long straight road in America or whatever where not much happens, you don’t see anything different for a long time, so when something different does come in you really notice it. But that’s not the kind of light and shade I’m looking for, I want something that turns off the road and comes back again.

Tony: Don’t you think, though, as opposed to people downloading and cherry-picking individual tracks that the album format is there to create an actual mood?


Billy: I think it’s becoming more like that, I think younger bands are doing that. It’s certainly the case with the Dirty Projectors album, there’s a lot of continuity there. I’ve been thinking that perhaps young bands are reacting to the whole download thing by creating a lengthy mood piece, it’s an interesting theory. I don’t think in those terms when I’m making an album, I think of what went before and how does this move the idea further along. I think when you want people to play your record as a continuous piece, when you’ve conceived it as such, you have to think more obviously about what you’re doing to stop listeners unbundling your work. That might be what’s led to this mood thing that we’re getting on a lot of albums.

Allan Jones: The mood of the album is really quite consistent, it does present itself as one piece.

Tony: We’re heading back to the prog era.

Rachel Unthank: Howay, let’s get over the word “prog” not being cool. Music should be progressive. There’s bad prog and there’s good prog.

Billy: Not to those of us who fought in the punk wars!

Rachel: Can’t get over it, can you, Billy?

Billy: No, we can’t! Blodwyn Pig still haunt us!

Rachel: I kept thinking I wouldn’t like this album, because there’s an element of the whole thing that Fleet Foxes brought to the table, that whole kind of sound, and I kept thinking I’d find it too similar. But every time I put it on it surprised me, it actually led me into their world. I really enjoyed the arrangements, the harmonies. I was constantly surprised, I think it’s a really good album, although not as good as Dirty Projectors. In a way I think the two bands have a lot in common, but Grizzly Bear seem a lot warmer, not as angular. A bit more poppy, I suppose. They’re easier to listen to, but there’s lots of layers you can get your head into. You can listen to it as a mood, as one piece, but there’s so much going on that you can have a different experience every time you play it. Some times the harmonies reminded me of Ben Folds, that kind of joyousness. I really liked it.

Bob Harris: I liked it too. A lot of the stuff I play on my programmes falls under the general heading of what people call Americana, and because I’ve become a sort of target for artists and labels to send me this sort of stuff I get to hear a lot of it. One of the problems with certain aspects of Americana is that you find yourself wanting to say to the artists “get over yourself! What’s wrong with you! Be positive!”. I find myself looking outside of all that, looking for something that has more texture. One of things that always effects me is when you sense that an artist’s lifestyle has spilled into the grooves. What Lucinda Williams always does for me is that her character, the way she is, comes across really strongly on the records. There’s no barriers. I always love it when you get that feeling off a record, and I must say I didn’t get that from Grizzly Bear. I just found it, in that respect, a bit glossed over. I don’t know why I found that, because all the raw ingredients are there for me to like this record, but again in the context of this award it’s not one of my favourites.

Dave Robinson: Like all of us, I hear a lot of music, but 25 albums is a lot to listen to quickly. I did play this a lot, because I saw by the sticker on the sleeve that they were so praised for being wonderful that I was worried I might be so over-the-hill and in the departure lounge of life that I couldn’t appreciate what all these magazines think is fantastic. So I did listen to it a lot and ultimately found it to be… nice, but nothing.

Mark Cooper: I’m with Tony, I think it’s a great record for virtually all the same reasons. I love the fact that it’s a whole piece of work, that it has a mood. I think the arrangements are dynamic throughout, it has great melodies that stay with me. I think there are three or four songs that are really masterful. I tend to associate a lot of Americana records with melancholia, and I love that blissed out atmosphere. It’s kind of like a Beach Boys record. Everything I don’t like about the Animal Collective record I love about this one. It takes Beach Boys references, Mercury Rev influences, and comes up with something genuinely original. I like its musicianship, its sense of surprise, it’s a really good record.

Dave: Is there a hot track you’d nominate, something that I should go back to?

Mark: Well, I loved “Two Weeks”, I loved “While You Wait For The Others” and “All We Ask”, those three really stand out for me. It is a big favourite of mine, I’m disappointed more of you don’t agree.

Rachel: I’m really surprised it’s not more popular with the panel. I think that a lot of people of, sorry to say, my age get into it a lot quicker, but then is it sometimes just that reacting to something sensitive is seen as being cool?


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