Grizzly Bear - Shields

Next week, Grizzly Bear drop their sprawling, ambitious, feverishly anticipated follow-up to Veckatimest. The early tracks from Shields were all enormously promising: “Sleeping Ute,” “Yet Again,” that live version of “Half Gate.” And now we get to hear the whole entire thing together, like a family. The album is streaming at NPR; to hear it, click here. And in the comments section below, let us know what you think of it and how it stacks up next to the band’s past glories.

Shields is out 9/18 on Warp. And don’t sleep on our Turntable Interview with Ed Droste.

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Comments (177)
  1. going to buy that gold vinyl asap

  2. Never been too big a Grizzly Bear fan. Veckatimest was great, but not a favorite. Shields, though, is just brilliant. The hard part is going to waiting all week until I can pick up my copy. At least we’ve got Love This Giant to tide us over!

  3. Album of the year!!

    • indeed, it’s pretty great. but before we all scream ZOMG ALBUM OF THE YEAR from the hilltops, let us remember that titus andronicus, why?, jay electronica, flying lotus, tame impala, G.O.O.D. music, the presets, ty segall, and black moth super rainbow all have releases scheduled within the next TWO months (and if you’re counting, we’ve got 4 to go). and i’m sure there’s lots of other great stuff i forgot about too.

    • big time agree

    • Indeed. Favorite album of the past 5 years, I think.

      • To Ben, et al: Ivet & Pedro are doing it right. If at least one person doesn’t claim AOTY at a comment party followed by some quality one-ups-manship from another commenter (good looking out, PAS) then a giant gash appears in the space time continuum suctioning all us hipsters into another dimension where people are not allowed to abuse the shit out of hyperbole or grow mustaches. Just think about that for a minute, BEN. No hyperbole or mustaches. What we gonna do without hyperbole & mustaches, just sit around and drink PBR without hyperbole and mustaches? Cause fuck that. So I, for one, would like to extend gratitude to Ivet & Pedro for doing it proper.

        • well, we could all grow goatees, drink PBR and sit around making cautious assessments of things.

          ….who am i kidding, that’s no fun. best album of the last TEN years!!

      • Best music since La Boheme, I’d say.

  4. Surely this is the best record we’ve heard all year!

  5. GREAT album. It feels much more consistent than past output. I’m guilty of often skipping some of the tracks on veckitamest for the top shelf jams (i.e., two weeks, ready able, cheerleader, while you wait) – some of the other tracks on that bitty can lag a bit if I’m casually listening, although I do enjoy them. I don’t know if this is due to the experimentation on veck’s (<— short form) other tracks, which clearly deviate from the shit you know your mom would like.

    HOWEVER, I feel like everything is much more cohesive on this album. Whereas something like "Dory" slams the breaks and puts you through the windshield, I put shields on and know that I'm in for a consistent pantaloon jazzing, without skipping anything to keep the momentum going. And the back third is just such a goddamn treat. what a solid finish (sun in your eyes O. M. G.). I didn't expect this tone of album from da boys but I'll be damned if it ain't just a gem of a lil heart.

    Favourite moments stem from little things – the wizzing slam at 2:45 of Sleeping Ute, the killer rasp in Ed's voice on Speak in Rounds (stevie nicksesque??!?! uh, yes pls), the interplay between eddy and danny's vocals throughout. Also, Sun in Your Eyes is the most beautiful thing I've heard this year. It feels special and no one else could have done it.

    Everything is just more consistent (Droste, 2012) and it makes the overall piece so much better. Thx to da bears for this one. I will be supporting my local record shop ;) ;) ;) ;)

  6. The only Grizzly Bear record I’ve heard was Yellow House, and I was not fond of it as an entire work. I skipped Vekitekismahighiumajigger because fuck the hype. But I’m listening to this mainly because of D. Tilla’s glowing review. He is not incorrect.

    • You literally never listened to an album because of hype? Seriously?b

      • I generally don’t until it’s died down completely, that is if I’m not already a fan of the artist. That way I’m absolutely sure that no one else’s opinion can influence my own. As much as we all want to say that doesn’t happen, it’s easy to let it.

        • its music – and why do you feel the need to make such evaluations upon it immediately? Listen to the sonic wonderment unfolding in front of you and not because you want to think one way or another about it

          • Yeah, exactly. It makes sense for music sites like Stereogum to evaluate albums so that they can bring good music to people’s attention–so that not everyone has to wade through hundreds of albums looking for the gems. But people who don’t review music for a living should have much less of a rating mentality, especially upon first listening to an album, as you said.

          • Except not every record is “sonic wonderment”. Actually, most music you CAN peg as good or bad on the first try. It is true that sometimes things you might dismiss initially can grow on you. But, I feel that immediacy is a good thing. A truly great record grabs you from the first time you hear the first note to first time you hear the last, and never loses staying power. if a record takes you a dozen listens before you finally “get it”, I don’t think you actually “get” anything.

        • If you’re intentionally not listening to an album solely because of hype, isn’t that letting others’ opinions influence your own just as much (if not more)?

    • yo, you skipped Vecka because of hype? That’s dumb. Give it a listen, it’s beautiful.

  7. the moaning tone in ‘the hunt’ is almost too much for me to bear, its so good, ‘sun in your eyes’ just ends the record on a great note. Overrall, this is a good improvement from their last effort, unlike other bands i shall not mention *cough* THE XX *cough*.

  8. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  9. A few of my thoughts:
    I was surprised at first that the songs seemed both more immediate than prior GB tracks but also ended up being real growers, which is to say much of the album took me a few listens to get into. I think this is because they’re deceptively simple (compared to other GB songs, at least), riffing off of pretty straightforward melodies and really expanding on them, instead of shifting tones/melodies mid-song, which to me is a GB staple.
    I love Ed’s raspy vocal stretches – I think they add a rugged-ness that’s missing from the GB catelogue.
    I’m hesitant to go full AOTY because I’m interested in seeing how the songs hold up over time. Since they are a bit more straightforward (for the most part), I hope that the little intricacies that fold out maintain my interest. So far so good.

    • I’d say it’s a nice mix of more straight forward and definitely more challenging. ie: what’s wrong, sun in your eyes, etc…..strikes a nice balance. It’s not like Veckatimest was really reinventing the chordal wheel or anything. I think the strongest part of this album aside from the melodies and FINALLY being able to understand the lyrics (which are also MUCH better) is how emotional it is, not in an emo sad bummed way, but in a way that seems really honest.

    • No. Don’t be hesitant. Just accept that it’s AOTY.

  10. Trent Ekblad  |   Posted on Sep 10th, 2012 +2

    This album is great, and time will tell how great it is. For ME, Veckatimest is one of my favorite albums ever and it feels very cohesive, and every song is a gem. As of this moment (which is not even after the official release date) Shields isn’t as good. But I’d be a fool to let my opinion rest here forever. And fuck opinions anyway.

    I am so happy to have more GB to listen too.

  11. Not really close to topping The Seer for Album of the year, but still pretty fucking good. better than Vecktimest, for sure.

    • The seer is something I can respect but have an awfully hard time actually making it through the album. I tried though. Not really sure what all the fuss is about with it.

      • yeah, I realize the Seer is definitely not for everyone, but to my own personal set of ears, it’s the best album of this year.

        • Fair enough! Maybe I just don’t have the attention span. I am curious about what makes it so much better than other albums in that genre….forgive my ignorance

          • I don’t know where to start with because I can’t figure out where the hell the Seer goes as far as genre at all. it feels like a musical world of it’s own like any great album should. I love how it combines those crazy intense peaks of heaviness and free-jazz squalls with moments of beauty like Song for a Warrior or quiet and ominous bits like The Wolf. I also think the instrumentation is awesome, with all these crazy instruments like bagpipes and church bells actually contributing a lot to the songs.

            given Shields a few more listens and I have to say it’s growing on me. maybe in a month I might call it equal or better to the Seer (though honestly lists are fucking stupid and when you have two albums of that quality you can’t really put one over the other). then again, in a month another album could come along and blow my mind just as much as these two are. this has been a damn good year for music, and it looks like the music won’t be slowing down any time soon.

    • The Seer is a masterpiece… but Shields is my pick for AOTY. Different strokes, I suppose.

  12. Been listening to this thing for over a week now (calm down I’ve got my vinyl preordered) and I can without a doubt say it’s my AOTY. I loved it at first and it still got better with every listen. More cohesive than any of their other albums, and Yellow House is one of my favorite records probably ever. Sleeping Ute, Speaking in Rounds, Yet Again, The Hunt (with most heart-breakingly beautiful vocal performance I’ve heard all year) , Half-Gate, and of course, Sun in Your Eyes are all amazing. Even the songs that weren’t my favorites the first couple times around are now up there as well. I love how they went for a bigger sound, but kept the production raw so that those quiet moments shine just as bright as the loud ones.

    TL;DR: I can’t say enough good things about this record

  13. GAH, WHY DID THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN WHILE I’M AT WORK AND CAN’T LISTEN TIL LATER?!!!!?!!?!

  14. Yellow House still takes the cake IMHO. That said, I’m glad GB hasn’t just put out the same album over and over like some of their contemporaries are wont to do(*cough* beach house *cough*). Shields speaks to their ability to reinvent their sound while retaining their strongest qualities as a band.

  15. I was expecting a let down given how much I love Veckatimest (how could this live up to it?), but after the first two songs were released for Shields, I started to question that sentiment. Now that I’ve listen to this album a few times, I think it’s beautifully crafted. It amazes me how cohesively everything on this album fits together considering they went for a big sound while maintaining their signature production qualities. Grizzly Bear just has this haunting beauty about them, and I love it. Great album.

  16. D Boone (BearKiller) wrote:
    Emo? New kids on the block?
    September 10, 2012 10:43:12 AM EDT

    If sage questions like this keep popping up, I’ll definitely get some hearty guffaws out of this NPR comment section.

  17. One thing I love about this “stream before review” trend is you really get to form an opinion before someone else tells you theirs (assuming you didn’t do this before by pirating leaks). I really like the new Jens and Cat Power albums and do enjoy the heck out of Coexist — breaking formation with all of P4K’s review. That leaves me wondering what other albums I passed on because they “only got a 7.9″. I bring shame upon myself and my family.

    Oh, and since this is a Grizzly Bear thread: Shields = eargasm. Competing for my favorite AOTY with Fiona and Cloud Nothings.

    • fiona and cloud nothings were my top spots as well, but have been passed by shields

    • I agree with the general sentiment here, as I thoroughly enjoy hearing albums sans any critical input yet I can’t resist reading shitloads of reviews once they come out. For instance, upon hearing the Cat Power album, I was anticipating it would get horrible reviews, and when it didn’t I was persuaded to give it another listen (I still really dislike it, but maybe it’s because I just can’t get past “Peace and Love,” which is awful. So awful. Also that hawk noise – that’s pretty bad too). On first impression I like this more than Veckatimest (full disclosure: I was meh on Veckatimest), and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here – it seems like one of the better “highly anticipated” releases of the year. Dirty Projectors, Animal Collective, and the xx were all fine but kind of underwhelming for me. I’m going out on a limb (a limb I’m probably alone on) and declaring an “album of the year so far” tie between Celebration Rock and Clear Moon, because I like to party, but I also like to think about being in the woods and Twin Peaks.

    • Fiona’s album was great, but Shields takes the win.

    • True, but also I love Centipede Hz and I didn’t listen to it until after the P4K review.

  18. Album of the year, album of the year, ALLLBUMMMM OF THE YEARRRRRR.

  19. You Guys!

    Joe Howse & I are still waiting for our Shields vinyl!

    Remember when Veckatimest leaked early and Ed Droste said that he was really upset that people were hearing these poor quality mp3 versions of their songs? While I realize this NPR stream may have some pretty dece audio quality, it seems that waiting for that physical release is the only way to listen to The Grizz.

    Wish I could join ya’ll with the comment party but the Howse Promise I shall not break.

  20. Immediately more approachable than previous albums upon its first few listens, yet equally as heady with tons of meat on its bones….perfect, logical next step after Veckatimest. This beast starts epic and gets even more epic as it pushes through the second act into the last. There is space in between these verses and melodies which is a scary cool addition to their already cinematic scaled pulse.

    The seventies influences are also alive here with everything from George Harrison to Neil Young if Crazy Horse felt like stripping down, unplugging a bit and joining him on a solo tour. There’s some Todd Rundgren to even a fucked up tinny Boz Scaggs or even Gerry Rafferty vibe. Clearly worth your nickels next week, and as refreshing an album that rock and roll can offer in this day and age. When many bands are too busy over thinking, these guys make thinking man rock. Presumptuous to label it ‘album of the year’ but clearly deserves praise as one of 2012′s best. What Frank Ocean is doing for redefining R&B, these guys are succeeding at giving classic rock a reboot.

    • Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  21. Well now we know why Ed was so smug in the Turntable interview ;)

  22. Dan’s songwriting and arrangements have become so cinematic in the post-yellowhouse era. If you haven’t seen the movie Blue Valentine, (and you should) it shows how well instrumental Grizzly Bear tunes can fit to cinema. He’s been on a really great songwriting tear from Veckatimest to In Ear Park, his EP and now this.

    Once again, Ed carries some of the album’s most ‘accessible’ moments. His decision to record his voice fairly bare on this album is something I love. Gun-Shy, Speak in Rounds and Yet Again are some really really great tracks. Speaking of Gun-Shy, which I think might be the most interesting GB track ever, it features Chris Taylor singing actual lyrics! Go Chris!

    I’m a big fan of this album and I really think it marks the end of Grizzly Bear albums featuring Ed Drose and Dan Rossen solo songs and the beginning of an actual cohesive unit. And if any of them might be reading this- congrats, and thanks again!

  23. What? A band engaging in a logical evolution in their sound while still being fucking awesome? Good gravy!

    What I mean to say is this is the bees knees

  24. Jess H. Livinghouse  |   Posted on Sep 10th, 2012 +8

    They’ve done it again. All of their releases have been wonderful and on Shields we hear a Grizzly Bear that is more fine tuned than ever before (Sleeping Ute) while still managing to be more stripped down than they’ve been in a while. Excellent production that doesn’t get in the way of the songs yet still allows for some big orchestral moments (Sun In Your Eyes). Every song was expertly crafted and culminates in what is a beautiful story of an album that is captivating from start to finish. They’ve done it again.

  25. I was on the edge of anticipation to hear this record and I was so pleasantly surprised with each new song. It feels fresh and raw and in your face. it is everything I’ve wanted to hear from them since Yellow House. a truly honest and brave record. absolutely killer. if it isn’t AOTY then I honestly have zero hope for anything. nothing else comes close for me

  26. “Speak in Rounds” sounds like a direct sequel to “Southern Point” from Veckatimest. And then THOSE HORNS…..

    So. many. eargasms.

  27. Can we take a moment to reflect on the genius of Dan Rossen’s guitar work on this album? I was also a bit worried after his excellent EP earlier this year that Shields wouldn’t measure up. I was wrong to worry.

  28. Favorite song so far is probably “gun-shy”. What about you guys?

  29. Alright, I’ll be the one to draw on the flame war…. I don’t really like this album. The songs lack something in depth and often (in “Yet Again,” and “Sleeping Ute” especially) the melodies feel too much like your typical catchy tune rather than the rich vocal arrangements I’ve come to expect from Grizzly Bear. I can appreciate that the guys have matured both musically and as a band since Veck, and I’m glad most people are digging it, but for me it falls a little flat.

    • Interesting, I find this much more of an interesting album than Veckatimest, but to each their own. I like how raw the vocals are sounding. Veck was too polished. Great album, but too distant. This feels like I’m in the room with them

    • I agree with you on some parts. It was still a really pleasant and engaging listen the first go around so it’s not bad, but yeah it feels like it’s kind of lacking. I’m sure I’ll continue to listen to it and like it, but there’s just something about the melodies that is kind of repetitive or lacking.

  30. My favorite thing about it thus far is that my favorite songs keep changing from listen to listen but I’m not growing tired of anything. I Keep finding new things to discover which each listen, especially with headphones. Feels like something I’m going to love years down the road, but only time will tell. All I can say is that I haven’t enjoyed any other album more than this one this year THUS FAR (to be fair)….

    Their slight evolution with each album is seriously so amazing and yes this is way better than Veckatimest.
    Enough gushing. Favorite song at the moment, “what’s wrong”

  31. HALF GATE DUDE WHAT

    But seriously though, this whole album is a “DUDE WHAT” experience. Once I acquire adequate funds, I’m purchasing this vinyl. Cheers.

  32. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  33. THIS IS ME LISTENING TO SHIELDS

    ALBUM
    OF
    THE
    YEAR,
    MAAAAANE

  34. Did I break the rules by listening to it when it leaked?

    I’m not one to declare anything “album of the year” until the year has actually elapsed, but I really have enjoyed this more than most of the other stuff put out this year. Shields was worth the wait!

  35. The new Tame Impala will challange this for AOTY, both are crazy good!

  36. Look, weird but positive exaggerators. How bout this: How about you only get to call five albums “album of the year” on posts. I don’t want to abridge anyone’s freedom of speech or anything (except for most of you), I would just like a more reasonable dialogue about an album than: WHOA AOTY! fifty times. Fuck, if you were a total asshole with nothing better to do, you might go back and check how many different albums have gotten multiple AOTY! comments from posters this year (hello, underscore). This is a good album. Hell, I am actually starting to believe that Pedro really thinks that it’s AOTY. But (Pedro cover your eyes), is Grizzly Bear really an AOTY band? Probably not with all of the new stuff yet to drop and some of the albums that have already come down earlier in the year (and the fact that most of you would slice both nuts off to get a photo op with Anco). Let them have a great album (can we really even compare it to their other work after a couple of “spins”?) and let’s discuss. I’ll tack on by saying that this sounds immediately like real progress, and I am really interested in seeing whether it still garners AOTY comments in December. But calm the fuck down and act like the judgmental, mopey fucks that most of you are most of the time.

    • You’re totally right eldave. Shields can’t be AOTY. Because R.A.P. Music already is, durr.

    • This is a good point.

      eldave rightfully questioned me on my AOTY shout-out for Chromatics back in March. However it’s STILL my AOTY so naaaaaa :P

      But yes! Listen to eldave. I followed my Chromatics AOTY shout-out with a good back and forth analysis of Chromatics aesthetic with eldave. So let’s get that going naow. I can’t contribute though because of what I said above about the Howse Promise.

      Also: R.A.P. Music is my #2 AOTY – props Wesley.

    • eldave, I find you to be the most lovable asshole on the internet. I mean that in a good way.

    • Butttt, in response to your point about having an actual discussion. I think the reason so many people are given to labelling this particular record AOTY is that — and I’m partially speaking for myself here — we’ve been waiting for a Grizzly Bear album that wasn’t so elusive. They’re certainly a band that’s good at giving you just enough to draw you in and then playing with your expectations. It’s clever, but it can also be little trying at times. Not the case here; they retain that experimental spirit but they manage to do it in a much more accessible way.

      I think it’s definitely the best work they’ve done.

      But nothing tops “Channel Orange” for me so far this year…

      • That’s kind of what I mean in terms of doubting Grizzly Bear as an AOTY-type band. I have been a fan for a couple of years, but I still don’t really like Yellow House all that much. There are purely brilliant moments on there. Vecktawhatever was a much more satisfying listen (to my ears), and I think that the new album has the potential to be the best work to date. However, my favorite Grizz song (more listens to Shields notwithstanding) to date is Knife (I particularly love the CSS cover, even though I don’t care much for CSS). I’m not sure if anything they’ll do can top the Blogoteque (sp.?) Takeaway version.

        • downvote for loving the CSS cover of Knife the most (wtf?)

          I can’t say AOTY since the year isn’t over, but it’s the best thing I’ve heard this year. Granted I haven’t listened to every single album released so I Guess it’s all just subjective huh

          • He said he likes “Knife” and also the CSS cover.

            He didn’t say he likes the CSS cover “the most”.

            Maybe that’s why actual discussions don’t happen in the comment section because people just takeaway whatever they feel like instead of subjectively reading people’s comments.

  37. How about we all calm down, listen to the album, and stop pretending to write for Pitchfork? Because this album is amazing, and who cares if people think it”s the album of the year. Then that’s their opinion. It’s not even like you have to listen to them say it, it’s digital text…

    • How about we comment on a post by replying to it like a real hippie and try actually reading a Pitchfork review once in awhile instead of just using Pitchfork as the cliche for “I’m too cool for school. Even old school.” They’ve really improved their journalistic approach to reviews (by scaling back on the omniscience) and have cleaned up the interface with the site. While I might not agree with it 100, I think the review of Shields is pretty decent. I strongly disagree with most of the reviews on that site, but I have certainly expanded my views on music thanks to P-fork and S-gum.

      “By the way, if you’re going to be a dick, at least come original.” -P-Nut

  38. I think it’s definitely their greatest achievement yet. My favorite moments are the quieter ones where the songs drift into a haze, like during the eerily beautiful outro of “What’s Wrong” or the quiet break down during “Sun In Your Eyes.” So incredible. Absolutely album of the year for me.

  39. Check out my lil mini write up y’all. I’ll trade you a page view for a downvote!

    http://happymusicsadmusic.blog.com/2012/09/11/stream-grizzly-bears-new-lp-shields/

  40. first half is the best stuff they’ve done…second half aside from gun shy gets a little slow / plodding / boring

  41. Album of the year for sure… tracks 2 and 3 are just perfect.

  42. Gun-Shy is fucking amazing. That is all.

    (Well, not quite all, because the rest of the album is also fucking amazing. But especially Gun-Shy.)

  43. cant wait for this

  44. The difference Shields and Veckatamist is just as big as the difference between Veckatamist and Yellow House. It’s like they’ve pulled a Radiohead (The Bends, Ok Computer, Kid A), not in terms of quality just in terms of changing style and sound while stayaing excellent. I love how they’ve brought back the ‘explosive build-ups’ that were in Yellow House, and only a little in Veckatamist.

    Grizzly Bear = GB = Great Band.

  45. Keeps getting better with more listens.

  46. “Speak in Rounds” is ridiculously good.

  47. Big disappointment. Yellow House and Veckatamist were way better.

  48. THIS ALBUM SUCKS said the guy who just bought the new Carly Rae Jepsen album wearing flannel

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