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The South Sound band has a new EP and success in EMP's Sound Off!

SHEBEAR: The indie-synthetic-pop band was originally named Weekend Wars, named for MGMT's hit song. Photo credit: Ryan Mckinney

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You know how it's said, "The journey is half the trip"? Well, slogging through northern Oregon on Amtrak's Train 11 en route to San Francisco, exhausting what little literature I brought with me and sitting next to a less-than-interesting fellow passenger - don't worry Rosemary, this was before you boarded - I think I'm gonna have to call "BS" on the little phrase. When a message from Evan Bedlion of the ambient indie-pop band SHEBEAR interrupted my bored stupor, I was relieved. Even more exciting was his news he was sending me the finished tracks from the band's new EP.

Merely seconds prior to listening to SHEBEAR's (formerly Weekend Wars) brand-new self-titled EP, I happened to catch wind of the news that this South Sound band had made it to the final round of the Experience Music Project's Sound Off! competition. Unfortunately for them, this seriously raised my expectations of the band's mp3 files on my desktop. But breathe easy, SHEBEAR, because thanks to you I'm currently sweeping up the light dusting that those shattered expectations left behind.

The EP's first track "Drive" begins with a synth build-up that provided anticipation of what is I was about to hear, while simultaneously not overstaying it's welcome. When the verse of this opening song began, I was hooked. The song's writing, harmonies, instrument parts and high production value made for a great first impression on my admittedly hard-to-please musical taste. The second song, "Superfoxx," exemplifies the band's thoughtful side and lyrical eloquence, with singer/guitar player Jeffery Anderson singing "I've made a gradual decent into a life I never meant." The pervading quality of this song is its smooth transition between two sonic temporalities. Beginning with a calming guitar arpeggio and soothing synth, it quickly escalates into all band members clearly giving 100 percent.

The latter half of the EP - including "Trammel" and "Magik Hands" - continued to impress me with the quality of writing and recording. I think it was at this point that I dragged the mp3 files from my desktop into my iTunes.

Bedlion (keyboard, synthesizer), Cody Kissner (drums), Jeffery Andersen (guitar, lead vocals), and Tobin Risser (bass, synthesizer, vocals) began their SHEBEAR journey almost a year ago. Its original sounds developed through all the members sharing a very similar taste in music. Its songs are a product of a very collaborative writing process.

"We all love the same genre but pull from different corners of it. This helps make our sound more unique," explains Bedlion.

As for the band's writing, Bedlion confirmed my suspicions of a collaborative effort. "Many of the songs we write start with two of us jamming and creating the skeleton of the song. After that we all get together and then it just falls into place," he observes.

Though they don't have any South Sound performances scheduled, SHEBEAR's most notable upcoming show is at The Sound Off! finals Saturday, March 2. They will be playing alongside fellow Tacoma-area band THE FAME RIOT, as well as two yet-to-be-determined bands. SHEBEAR also has a tentative show scheduled March 25 at El Corazon in Seattle, playing with Cult Records artists The Virgins, C.O.L.O.R. and Har Mar Superstar. If none of those bands sound familiar, at least bow to Cult Records founder Julian Casablancas of The Strokes.

There's no time like the present to augment your audio collection with some impressive South Sound music. This week, I strongly encourage you to check out SHEBEAR. The band's self-titled EP can be purchased on its bandcamp page for less than the price of a gallon of gas. And if you don't factor weekly music purchases into your budget - as I do - save that $3 by putting on your walking shoes, popping in some earphones and letting SHEBEAR "Drive" you to work or school this week.

OK, pun intended.

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