This is a review of "Brother Sister EP (& Launch!)" recorded by Hunting Bears. The review was written by Jimmy Horrigan in 2014.
Three acts, a four track EP and free cake!
I take a lazy break from writing then decide to throw myself right back into it. My second review in a day and there's no time to waste because the launch for this little beauty is happening tomorrow at 8pm, Wed 23rd April, at Oporto in Leeds.
So let's give this one the promotional big-up, push and fives it deserves first of all. Oporto's a cracking local venue and tomorrow night, for the princely sum of £5, you can go there to watch Hunting Bears plus supporting sets by Jasmine Kennedy & We Died at Sea. Not only that. Oh no. Then you can walk away with your own copy of the new Hunting Bears EP in your hand (pocket, bag, or inventive carry-home receptacle). There'll even be some cool art prints for sale on the night (maybe think about adapting that inventive receptacle a bit, eh?) and free cake as a thank you for you being you whilst also being there. I know. You're thinking that all sounds a bit too ace for a Wednesday night in Leeds aren't you? Well you're wrong! It's the perfect way to defeat the midweek malaise, spend a school night in town and it'll get even more ace when you hear the beautiful music Hunting Bears want to perform for you.
Seriously, I've heard the songs and they're so very pretty you'd be mad to miss out on hearing them performed in the flesh. The more I listen to them over and over the more I started to really fall for this EP. The lovely lads and lasses that make up Hunting Bears sent me a top secret link so I could get a sneaky preview listen to the Brother Sister EP and I'm very glad that they did. It's properly good.
So the EP then.... Four songs and everything you'd expect from Hunting Bears and then some.
The harmonies are typically lush, the arrangements carefully crafted and the production perfect to add warmth to their sound. The vocals are as beautiful as ever and my stand-out favourite is "Her Velvet Dress". I know the guys have been leading the EP promotion with "Primrose Hill" as a taster but - and it's just my opinion - I think they've missed a trick in not giving "Her Velvet Dress" all the air possible. It's stunning from the start and through into its' beautiful crescendo and definitely needs to be included on a soundtrack at some point for maximum exposure. (If The Civil Wars' "Poison & Wine" is good enough for Grey's Anatomy then this definitely deserves the same exposure). Also and this is the only negative, I'm not as mad about "Primrose Hill" as I am for the other three tunes on the EP. Don't get me wrong, "Primrose Hill" definitely has nice touches and some elements reminded me of old Polyphonic Spree numbers which I enjoyed but there are better moments elsewhere on the EP for me. Well, that's me and my head anyway. You might have your own favourite when you've heard all four too.
"Julia" is the opener from the EP and there's a lot more going on in there than first play led me to believe. On fifth or sixth listen (Yes, I'm thorough!) I started to hear more layers underneath the main melody. Reminiscent of old standards in parts and channelling The Staves as much as Carter-Cash memories from my dad's record collection; I really enjoyed the offset of tradition versus the new in this one. I bet it's a cracker live as it has some nice loud-quiet-loud moments that beg to be performed for a toe-tapping crowd. Elsewhere on the EP you'll hear "Boardwalks of The Zhan Qiao" which drifts breezily along through a soft intro not a million miles from mid-90s Mercury Rev which is more than fine by me! The dreaminess of the female harmonies part way through this one are warm enough to melt very cold ice and I really, really love them. If the girls can pull this one off live you're in for one heck of a treat tomorrow night.
I'll leave it there because you'll be desperate to hear these songs and really, the quickest way for you to do that is to get down to Oporto tomorrow night and show your support. Remember, you'll grab yourself a copy of the EP for your efforts. (And don't forget the cake!)