Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers

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