Bear vs. Shark
Right Now You're in the Best of Hands


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Greer EMERITUS
July 28th, 2005 | 62 replies | 37,442 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


Bear vs. Shark
Right Now You're in the Best of Hands and If Something Isn't Quite Right Your Doctor Will Know in a Hurry

For the uninitiated, Bear vs. Shark is a pretty interesting mix of DC/Gainseville Punk, standard post-hardcore, and midwest indie. They're from Michigan but tap into these eclectic group of subgenre niches and even have a great sense of pop melody. The end product lies somewhere in the world of post-punk. If you can imagine a less experimental At the Drive-In with Chuck from Hot Water Music singing, you'd have a pretty good idea of Bear vs. Shark. They're signed to Equal Vision and manage to fit in with Circa Survive, alexisonfire, and the like, even though their style is distinctly divergent.

This unique style would be their most important asset, if it weren't for the great songwriting that absolutely trumps everything here. Singer Marc Paffi has a talent for strong one liners and metaphors, and his great vocal tone is perfect for pulling off these lines. As I mentioned earlier, his voice sounds like Chuck's (Hot Water Music) but with a little bit less slurring. His delivery is "honest" as some reviewers would say. Well, I guess I just said it too, but it's absolutely correct. The presentation isn't as direct and punch-in-the-face as posi hardcore lyrics, but the strength of his voice and the quality of lyric does the trick. His voice, aside from being original, has a pretty decent range. That part isn't as wildly displayed, but it certainly comes across from his lower soft moments ('Kylie') to his outright screams ('Busses/No Busses'), and even his high pitched, hooting, poppy moments ('We Were Sad But Now We're Rebuilding'). There's an anything goes mentality that pays off well. It allows room for experimentation but makes it that much sweeter when he reels the song in and finishes it, which I think is particularly well done on "Ma Jolie." Imagine after screaming, whooping, and whatever else, clinched then by a soft but gruff voice singing:

"This is a poem, a combination
of a sentence broken up to form
a rhythm. you are a poem little pieces
of my senses broken up to form an image"

The instruments are pretty rockin' too. Actually, while on the subject I should mention that this band just rocks. The songs are pretty upbeat. Even when a song like "Kylie" or "MPS" comes around, they are just pretty segues and breathers from the more energetic tracks. But anyway, the instruments are cool. They aren't super technical like with math metal or meticulously varied like some indie, but they are done well. The tones are the usual mix of distorted/abrasive and clean/lush that one would imagine from a band of this ilk, but Bear vs. Shark has that midwest feel. Maybe it's because they are from Michigan, or maybe they really like Braid or Cap'n Jazz, but they have a good sense of how to make their songs sound earthy and quaint. These songs would sound great on vinyl and I can imagine them being just as effective ten years ago, when Bear vs. Shark's influences were just starting up their scene. There are guitar leads and octave harmonies, bass slides and fillers, and upbeat drumming to fill these twelve tracks with memorable and likable parts.

A general good time for the whole family. I mean that too. My past middle age parents both dig this band when I play them around the house. There's an accessibility under the initial aggression. I think Paffi labeled it as "abrasive pop" in an interview with an ex-classmate of his from college. Bear vs. Shark's instruments often rock in either soft modal ways, or in straight forward pentatonic ways, both of which give them modern take on classic styles. The songs are verse chorus verse, etc. but there's something fresh in this combination few bands can pull off. It's one of the reasons At the Drive-In were such a success. They presented punk in a way few had heard it before; infused it with new life. That's what Bear vs. Shark does. They rip a little from At the Drive-In, Fugazi, Hot Water Music, Braid, and others but come out as something excitingly new, because they know where to accept what's tried and true, and they know when to add their own flourishes.

Top tracks: Ma Jolie, Busses/No Busses, Kylie, Bloodgiver



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Comments:Add a Comment 
marsvolta
July 29th 2005



64 Comments


god bear vs shark is so god damn good...pick up their new album terrorhawk that came out in june, its also very amazing.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 29th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's not as good though. I think I'm going to review that later. It's really off balanced with the first half being way better.

marsvolta
July 29th 2005



64 Comments


yeah i agree....still very good though. catamaran is an awesome song

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 30th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Catamaran" is probably my favorite from Terrorhawk.

Bukowski
July 30th 2005



45 Comments


I love this album, with Kylie and Second being my favourite songs.

Bear Vs. Shark's drummer is one of the most creative i've heard in a long time, and they're a very cool sounding band. And their name is cool too.

Excellent review, very well written. I enjoyed reading this.This Message Edited On 07.30.05

DFelon204409
Emeritus
July 31st 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks. I don't think their drummer is that cool. I think that every musician brings their own cool flavor, which is the reason for the intereting synthesis of sounds.

CushMG15
December 4th 2005



1802 Comments


I just heard a couple songs by these gentlemen and I must say that I really enjoy their sound. Catamaran is one of the best songs that I've heard in recent months. You read my mind with the ATDI and Hot Water likness.

Very nice review, I'll definitely be checking into these guys more.

DFelon204409
Emeritus
December 4th 2005



3995 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Catamaran" and "Baraga Embankment" are my favorites from their most recent album.

santi3hg
January 25th 2006



440 Comments


as always well written review.
i picked up you're in good hands first and i liked it alot and after borrowing terrorhawk i was a bit dissappointed with the beginning being awesome and ending being bad(you should review later). sadly they broke up.

embroglio
January 31st 2006



219 Comments


Actually, i think Terrorhawk is better than Right Now, the singer's voice has improved and altogether it's better as a whole IMO, whereas Right Now had abunch of great standout tracks.

im digging the review thoguh

YDload
March 14th 2006



1207 Comments


This is a really neat album; I like how they can make up unique riffs like the opener to "Ma Jolie," but also remain in the realm of easily understood music. I also like this review and the way it explains the sound of a very unique band with relatable examples. Good work, both to BVS and the reviewer!

embroglio
April 23rd 2006



219 Comments


"Campfire" r00lz.

calgone
May 13th 2006



48 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

mmmmmmmmm ma jolie

benny and the jets
May 13th 2006



5 Comments


bear vs shark is fucking awsome

Tyler
Emeritus
February 24th 2007



7924 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This album's been a favourite of mine since it came out. It does almost everything right. It's kicking between a 4 and a 4.5 actually.

GiraffesandDolphins
November 29th 2007



12 Comments


in my opinion terrorhawk is ok but right now is just amazing

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
December 5th 2007



3752 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is some good stuff! Much love to Jumpthefuckup for the intro to these guys.

Digging: Labyrinth Ear - The Orchid Room

fractured
May 16th 2008



362 Comments


R.I.P to one of the most entertaining live shows ever.

KritikalMotion
May 22nd 2008



2259 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Bet thing i've heard in a while.

ATLbraves
May 22nd 2008



193 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, this album is downright awesome.



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