Thursday, October 29, 2009

BIBJ Playlist of the 2000s entry #43: While You Wait For the Others by Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear is a band that will not get in your face. Their output is often an exercise in restraint, and one that makes you pay attention to detail. This is simultaneously their greatest strength and weakness. It’s impossible to not appreciate the intricate nuance of harmonies and minimalist instrumentation (even Jay-Z loves them!), but their spatial tempos can also languish, leaving them susceptible to being upstaged by Wayne Coyne literally doing nothing but waving from another stage.

The upside and downside are showcased on “While Your Wait For the Others,” a track that featured an unorthodox packaging decision when it was released as a single, in that the b-side was an exact replica of the single, featuring one small variation. Resident Grizzly Daniel Rossen sings on the single, whereas the b-side vocals are handled by…you guessed it: Michael McDonald.

"Ya Mo B Bear"

Let’s put the two versions up against each other head to head. First, the single (which I believe may have used shit found in my grandparents’ old house as the puzzlingly random prop collection for the video.)

And now the Doobie-fied rendition, complete with a fan-made video mash-up featuring a dancing Beyonce and Solange Knowles.

Considering that the lyrics revolve around the age-old tale of a woman (or man) who has done her (or his) man wrong, one of the main differences is the delivery of the vital lyric “I’ll kindly ask you to make your way.” Rossen truly does ask kindly in his tenor and phrasing, and frankly he sounds like a pansy. Stand up for yourself, Poindexter! McDonald sings the exact same line, but his inflection can barely contains that soul beneath the surface, letting you know that in actuality he’s not asking a damn thing. He’s Michael fucking McDonald for God’s sake! He didn’t spend the mid-70’s plowing Steely Dan groupies just to be made a damn fool of! Those twee hipsters in Williamsburg might put up with crap, but the silver-bearded assassin suffers no guff, you heartless bitch. POINT: McDonald.

Yet toward the end of the song, McDonald’s lack of restraint starts to overshadow the track. The last minute of the song goes to the next level of awesomeness, with harmonies and guitars blowing up left and right. Rossen’s vocals float like a ghost, keeping the instrumentation in the forefront. But McDonald tends to distract with the shouting, going all “Taking it to the Streets” on us. POINT: Rossen.

All in all, I call it a draw, and a victory for America!  I only hope these pairings are a sign of things to come. Kenny Loggins and Animal Collective, you are officially on the clock.

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