TV on the Radio’s Dear Science isn’t the only local record you should be excited about this fall. Here’s the first of 10 others.
Department of Eagles
In Ear Park
Department of Eagles, “In Ear Park” (MP3)
Department of Eagles, “No One Does It Like You” (MP3)
If the Joe-Six-Schlitz apocalypse comes to pass this November, expect your Beauty Queen Veep to animal-code the government branches after Alaskan wildlife so she can remember them like sports teams—my best guess has Congress as the Wolves, the hulking judicial system as the Moose, and the Executive Branch elevated to the Department of Eagles. In the meantime, the name’s taken by Grizzly Bear (Federal Reserve?) mensch Daniel Rossen, who’s been collaborating with former dormmate Fred Nicolaus under the hawkish moniker since their freshman year at NYU. Named after an installation series by Belgian surrealist Marcel Broodthaers, the pair released their first full-length in 2003; the following year, Rossen joined Grizzly Bear with another kid from his frosh floor, Christopher Taylor. The rest is Stereogum history.
As for Nicolaus, he succumbed to the white-collar holler after graduation, enlisted in a 9-to-5 job, and according to the DOE’s official bio, got busy “opening a savings account.” Pretty sure this is just one-sheet shorthand for “His MySpace page says he likes Vampire Weekend and the Strokes, don’t hate.” But then again, maybe Fred’s already bought a condo in the Edge?
Highlights. Poormouth-goofing aside, we are consequently thrilled that the Department of Eagles project was fully revived last year, unfortunately though in tandem with Rossen’s father passing away, which led to him writing material deemed “too personal” for Grizzly Bear. The result is Department of Eagles’ brand-new In Ear Park, a gorgeous 11-song peppermint-tea-drinker that opens like an M. Ward campfire jam with nearly a minute of John-Fahey-fanboy string trickery, followed by a ghostly wind of ooooohs—and then gets even better. Like its clear antecedent, the Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows What I’d Be Without You,” the token pop song “No One Does It Like You” is for girls in knee-high tube socks, but these ones shop at American Apparel instead of Sears. “Teenagers” sounds like Harry Nilsson with a milk moustache. And “Classical Records”—I had a line but I don’t remember.
Honorable mention. In Ear Park features all the Grizzlies except Ed Droste. (On Droste’s absence, Rossen admitted in the Sunday Times: “I was very unhappy for about a year in the band, especially with him.” All’s well in the animal kingdom now: “I don’t feel that way at all anymore, and we’re actually very close,” Rossen also said. And last night at the Bell House, JoJo cover “Too Little Too Late” and “If You’d Forgive Me” were both dedicated to Ed. Update: Plus this, which means, it’s really all good.) So you could call Department of Eagles Grizzly Bear without Ed, or you could just call them everybody on the Internet’s new birdwagon.
Honorable mention II. Dirty Projectors’ Angel Deradoorian and bull-fiddle-slinger Nat Baldwin—who also, yes, used to play with the Dirty Projectors—both appear on this record. Baldwin’s most recent Most Valuable Player is a monster.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 7, 2008