Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers – The Bear [Album Review]

by That Guy on August 20, 2009

I think we all have bands in our lives that we pull for no matter what – whether it’s because you started liking them at an influential time in your life, their live act won you over, or they just seem like all-around great guys. For Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers, it’s all those things.‚  So when Oz sent me an advance copy of their new album a few weeks back, I listened with some trepidation – pulling for them since I once put Kellogg in my Fantasy Supergroup, but nervous that after 10+ years of banging out solid material, they may mail this one in.

I’m happy to say the album absolutely delighted me. The Bear is easily Kellogg’s finest effort to date.

It starts off with the title track, a two-minute, stripped down acoustic thumper with gritty guitar riffs and an undeniable beat. It gets even better on track two with a catchy, straight-forward alt-country number called “A (With Love).” The third song, “Shady Esperanto and The Young Hearts,” is undoubtedly Kellogg’s most radio-friendly. It literally has everything – an upbeat melody, Springsteen-esque DOUBLE hand claps, heartfelt vocals, and a jubilant “I never wanna get oooolllldddd!” sing-along chorus. Am I allowed to pump my fist to Stephen Kellogg? I’m unsure.

The album is equally strong as it progresses onward. Kellogg calls on friend Josh Ritter to lend a helping hand on another standout track, “All Part of the Show,” a lyrically whimsical tune about phony relationships. But perhaps my favorite song on the entire record is a 7-minute gem called “Mabeline.” It’s vintage Kellogg and full of everything I’ve always liked about his music.

The Bear will be released on September 8th on Vanguard Records. The dudes are on tour now and stop through Chicago at the Old Town School of Folk Music on 8/23 and again on 9/18 at Park West.

Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers – My Old Man

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

SafariMan August 20, 2009 at 11:17 am

I am writing from a vertical offsite after being out until 6am last night at an illegal korean karyoke room. However, i still managed to find the review awesome. SK and the boy stayed at my house while on tour a couple of years ago….could not be nicer. It’s one of few bands that my parents and I can both take in and enjoy..,.can’t wait to hear the album after I sober up.

liz August 20, 2009 at 12:47 pm

I’m glad to hear the album doesn’t disappoint; I can’t wait until it comes out!

That Guy August 20, 2009 at 9:46 pm

SafariMan – sounds like a great night. By the by, the great AudioGalaxy (the thinking man’s Napster) helped me discover these guys back in 2000 with a little song called “When She Leaves” – I believe you are familiar. I know you and I both share a love for the AG. I just went to the site for old time’s sake and, let me tell you, it’s a shell of its former self. But let’s remember it for what it was, not for what it’s become.

Steve McCoy October 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm

It’s only $5 at Amazon right now.

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