CD Review: Bishop Allen

By Holly Elliott |

Brooklyn’s own Bishop Allen is back this March in full force. The main duo, Christian Rudder and Justin Rice, collaborate with a number of other rotating musicians to create a unique blend of melodic indie-pop and folk. Their new album, Grrr…, is certain to bring their catchy and youthful resonance to a wider audience.

While some critics described their previous album, Bishop Allen & the Broken String, as sounding significantly like Wilco’s seminal Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Bishop Allen’s new work is less derivative and far more original. The songs feature their trademark catchy choruses while expanding on their uninhibited sound. The cinematic feel of their music is perhaps a product of their close friendship with film director, and fellow Harvard graduate, Andrew Bujalski. In fact, the band is named after a road in Cambridge, Massachusetts, near where the three lived during college.

Rudder and Rice were the main characters in Bujalski’s films “Funny Ha Ha” and “Mutual Appreciation” in 2002. Since then, they have enjoyed even more popularity on the silver screen, as well as on television.

In 2008, the band made an appearance in the popular film “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist,” and one of their songs was featured in a scene from the hit ABC series “Greek.” Such exposure is certain to boost the popularity of Grrr….

The album’s 13 tracks are packed with surprises, yet it flows seamlessly as a continuous piece. While their style has progressed significantly since their debut EP with Dead Oceans Records, some musical characteristics of their work still bear a slight resemblance to their influences. At parts, “The Ancient Commonsense of Things” sounds like it could be a musical interlude from an album by the Apples in Stereo. Perhaps this is not a coincidence considering Grrr… was mixed by Bryce Goggin, who has previously worked with the Apples in Stereo and many other indie rock artists such as Pavement and Luna.

To kickoff Grrr…‘s March 2009 release, Bishop Allen announced a string of tour dates beginning March 10, the day the album drops. The tour will begin in New York City and hit more than 20 locations across the east coast.

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