Bear and Moose‘s “Chicagovenient Store” is indie-rock in one of the most old-school ways to envision it. Chronologically post-punk rock’n’roll in the way that the Minutemen were, Bear and Moose feels like it is carrying the torch on the Minutemen’s natural progression from punk’s loud/fast/brash via added lyrical, technical performance, and sonic concerns. Like the Minutemen, Bear and Moose’s lyrics concern political issues; unlike their forbears (who were concerned with America’s relationship to globalization and, in particular, Central American politics), the subject here is American suburban materialism, despondency, and political malaise. We can use more critique on those fronts, for sure.
The wryly amused, satiric vocal delivery contrasts with the perky, skittering music that the duo constructs. The tune opens with a hectic bass line that’s doubled by the guitars–past the intro, the song sways and jolts and tilts as the varied guitar strumming patterns zoom back and forth. The frantic guitar and bass are locked down by a drumbeat that keeps everything in line (and the aforementioned vocalist, who seems content to toss off pronunciations while totally unaffected by all the complexity going on around him). The song threatens to come apart at the seams with all the various melodic lines zinging here and there, but those two elements hold it all together to make a really exciting song.
It’s a bit of controlled chaos, which is a pretty good definition of what I’m looking for in rock music. If I really have to pin a label on it, the guitar tone and the engineering job tie it tenuously to surf-rock and/or garage rock. But I’d rather just let it stand on its own, under that big tent banner of indie-rock.
Bear and Moose’s album third album Obstacle comes out September 15.