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Album Review
Jeremy Enigk - OK Bear Album Cover

Jeremy Enigk - OK Bear

Reviewed by
7.8
Jeremy EnigkOK Bear
Record Label: Lewis Hollow Records
Release Date: May 12, 2009
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Completely unaware of Jeremy Enigk’s inexhaustible work ethic, I was slightly taken aback to learn that OK Bear is the former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman’s fifth-ish solo release. Couple this jarring statistic with the fact that Enigk also completed four albums with SDRE (and some soundtrack work), and I think it’s safe to say that Enigk is the definition of prolific. Perhaps most amazing is the way Enigk maintains his recognizable sonic tendencies while still keeping diehard fans coming back for more. He experimented with The Fire Theft, gave a genre meaning in the 90’s, and now on OK Bear, he does away with the frills to deliver an acoustic, country-influenced gem.

The only time I ever saw Enigk perform live, it was just him, a guitar and a stool. Despite being the opener for Cursive, a band not exactly immune to chants of, “Die Emo pussies, die,” a drunk (or stupid or both) concertgoer extolled Enigk for sounding like “the saddest man on Earth.” Clearly he was listening through a can of Coors Light, because hearing Enigk strive for the upper register is the opposite of depressing. “Vale Oso” is an example of such dichotomy. Delicate guitar picking accompanies a rather soulful Enigk as he sings, “Carry you across the Earth / I never even had a choice.” Descending horn lines and a ghostly piano make brief appearances, and in passing, sure, it sounds kinda sad. But the notion of being so madly in love that you can commit these feats of impossible strength - so in love that you can wait forever - is almost too optimistic. The hunt for Enigk’s true feelings is half the fun. Joe Keystone Light will figure it out later.

So he’s still writing and we’re not bored yet. Great. Even on an album described as “stripped”, Enigk finds creative ways to incorporate plenty of traditional rock instruments. “Same Side Imaginary” has drums played with a feathery touch, electric guitars and, whoa!, a catchy chorus. It’s not heavy, but it is fulfilling. In the same vein, opener “Mind Idea” makes use of a piano accompaniment that wouldn’t be out of place in a 70’s horror movie. Lengthy guitar strums and a confrontational Enigk create an unexpected DSOTM-era Pink Floyd vibe. Jam-packed as this song is, it’s digestible and easily integrated within OK Bear. Next comes similarily noisy “Late Of Camera.” Although “Camera” goes for the distortion-to-melody gag we’ve been inundated with over the past few years, it ingeniously incorporates shrill strings in a successful attempt at cohesiveness.

It’s in these moments of conflict that Enigk’s genius becomes clear. One moment he’s “La La La” and the next he’s fighting for ground amidst a flurry of guitar noodling. And there’s not even a hesitation when it comes to identifying OK Bear's 12 songs as “pop”. As sparse as they can be (“April Storm” and “Make Believe”), there’s still drama worthy of the world’s greatest theater. Enigk is an unassuming showman of the highest quality; he can sit on a stage with an old guitar, all the while fooling the uninitiated into thinking something completely false. But it’s almost exciting to be one of those sorry few, because once the truth is revealed, there is a triumphant feeling rarely recreated in the musical world.


Recommended If You Like: The Fire Theft, Sunny Day Real Estate, brown belt-black shoes, Sleepercar, fake fur


Come as you arewww.myspace.com/jeremyenigk
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 29
03:48 PM on 05/07/09
#2
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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If it were me, this would have gotten an 85. Oh well. Still a solid review for a very solid musician. Nice work. No flaws in the writing. Solid stuff.
03:56 PM on 05/07/09
#3
Garett Press
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i like enigk - i do, i really do
04:33 PM on 05/07/09
#4
Jeremy Aaron
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I can't wait to hear this. The guy's yet to do anything wrong in my eyes (though admittedly, How It Feels to Be Something On took a little time), and I doubt this will be any different.
04:52 PM on 05/07/09
#5
Blake Solomon
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staff party!!!
07:49 PM on 05/07/09
#6
circatbs
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great fucking album.

p.s. staff party ruined
11:55 PM on 05/07/09
#7
neo506
Ten Stories
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Sorry to be nitpicky, but this is Jeremy's 3rd proper solo album.


Return of the Frog Queen (1996)
World Waits (2006)
OK Bear (2009)

The Missing Link is an EP with some World Waits live tracks, and The End Sessions is a promo CD he recorded live in studio.

Other than that good review (though I'm a huge fan and think the score shouldve been higher)
12:18 AM on 05/08/09
#8
Ryzenfall
makin' good time
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Great review. Great great album. I'm liking it a lot so far. Although I don't understand why they didn't go with the "first" cover.
06:01 AM on 05/08/09
#9
RidingWithDeath
RidingWithJG
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great job on the review. there's something about Jeremy's voice that literally takes me to another place. he's an amazing singer/song writer and I can only hope I get to see him when he tours. this man is hope in a questionably terrible decade of music.
08:07 AM on 05/08/09
mateoman
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I didn't get around to listening to SDRE's "The Rising Tide" until just a few years back, but it immediately opened the doors of my musical tastes and sent me in completely new directions. I have Enigk to thank for diversifying my library. He was the gateway for me to all second-wave Emo and the entire genre of Post-Punk. Excellent man, chilling, inspirational voice.
08:18 AM on 05/08/09
awakeohsleeper
We never met, you and I
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Great man - I love his work.
08:27 AM on 05/08/09
xJesusFreakx
duh please
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So, I must confess to have only passingly listened to SDRE. I've been meaning to get into them, but just never have. What is their "definitive" album; if I only ever buy one of their CDs, which one should it be?
08:53 AM on 05/08/09
deadenddecember
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So, I must confess to have only passingly listened to SDRE. I've been meaning to get into them, but just never have. What is their "definitive" album; if I only ever buy one of their CDs, which one should it be?
diary is, in my opinion, without question their definitive release.
09:06 AM on 05/08/09
Cheesus
nope
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The part about the drunken douche insulting Jeremy bothers me.. It sucks that people can be so ignorant, especially in front of someone like Jeremy.

I really enjoyed the review though. Good job


I can't wait to hear this. The guy's yet to do anything wrong in my eyes (though admittedly, How It Feels to Be Something On took a little time), and I doubt this will be any different.

How It Feels to Be Something On has too be my favorite album Enigk has done. Its just so unique
10:28 AM on 05/08/09
theDrivingSnow
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So, I must confess to have only passingly listened to SDRE. I've been meaning to get into them, but just never have. What is their "definitive" album; if I only ever buy one of their CDs, which one should it be?

diary is, in my opinion, without question their definitive release.

While Diary is certainly their most famous/acclaimed release, someone getting into them after already enjoying Jeremy's solo stuff may not find it that accessible/enjoyable at first; Jeremy's voice sounds completely different. I'd recommend going in reverse chronological order (starting with The Rising Tide).

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