Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on the Afternoon Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Listen and Wait” by Grizzly Bear from the 2013 album Shields: B-Sides on Warp Records.
Multi-part harmonies, elliptical melodies, and psych-tinged instrumentation have driven Grizzly Bear to be one of indie rock’s premier acts in the 21st century. Although Grizzly Bear began as a solo project for singer Ed Droste in 2004, drummer Christopher Bear, bassist Chris Taylor, and guitarist Daniel Rossen soon joined the band’s lineup. The quartet’s first effort together, 2007’s Yellow House, garnered critical acclaim and an opening slot for Radiohead in 2008. They built on that momentum by releasing Veckatimest, one of the first modern indie rock albums to debut in the Billboard 200 top 10 on internet buzz alone, and continued that streak with last year’s nearly as acclaimed Shields. “Listen and Wait”, a previously unreleased track from the Shields sessions, ranks among the band’s more stark tracks, leaving Rossen’s vocals to float over a reverb-drenched keyboard melody. The rest of the band only joins the song briefly and intermittently, abruptly disappearing to leave Rossen’s guitar as the primary instrument. When the song finally fades out after the final verse, it feels like a sketch that intentionally remains ghostly. “Listen and Wait” highlights Grizzly Bear’s talent for making the most of space while revealing their penchant for subtly-changing dynamics, producing a song that, while out of place on Shields, maximizes each member’s contribution to shine on its own.
Grizzly Bear are off tour at the moment and will likely not return to the road until their next album is completed, but keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for updates on that process. For now, watch the Emily Kai Bock-directed video for the Shields cut “Yet Again”: