Cowboy Indian Bear
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Cowboy Indian Bear’s admiration of Broken Social Scene is well-founded. The band’s first full-length, Each Other All the Time, is packed with falsetto refrains, thrumming bass lines and bouncy guitars that recall Broken Social Scene’s prime. Hell, even the title sounds like the name of a BSS track. (“Mathemeticians/Colour” nearly shares a name with the Canadian collective’s “Love and Mathematics,” but that’s where the similarity ends.) The trio’s minimalist song structure hinges on singer and guitarist Martinez Hillard’s deadpan delivery, backed with pristine vocal harmonies and stark percussion. For all their relatively sparse instrumentation, Cowboy Indian Bear’s songs are rich: “Heart Be” builds a repeated phrase — we are wanted — into a toe-tapping chant, and the stripped drum line of “Color Well” lends profundity to eerie synth drones that usher the song to its instrumental climax. Elsewhere, tension breaks open a couple of rough guitar solos during “Bear vs.” and “Santiago.” But Cowboy Indian Bear seems to be happier floating in the nonconfrontational beauty of elegantly lilting harmonies (see the Fleet Foxes-like “Please Be Kind to All Your Ghosts”). Each Other All the Time borders on the ethereal: The first minute of “1545 Mass/Each Other All the Time” is chillingly beautiful, echoing over a muddy, sampled voice recounting a childhood in an old farmhouse. The album reflects the minimalist beauty of a rural Lawrence skyline: white light, dark lines of ground and a wide expanse of sky.