Bishop Allen builds upon the extraordinary first years of their career with Grrr…, which Dead Oceans will release March 10, 2009. The band fronted by Justin Rice and Christian Rudder is best known for making and self-releasing an EP each month for an entire year, then reworking some of the best songs for a highly acclaimed label debut (The Broken String). The rigorous EP project, and the extensive touring that has followed it, have allowed Bishop Allen to hone their craft: writing, performing and recording music.
The resulting album, Grrr…, reveals that after five years of comparisons to other artists–Jonathan Richman, The Kinks, Bright Eyes, Spoon, etc., in rave reviews from Rolling Stone, SPIN, Entertainment Weekly and many others–Bishop Allen has developed an artistry and sound that are unmistakably their own. One thing that distinguishes Bishop Allen’s music is the quality of the writing. Rice’s literate lyrics, which The Los Angeles Times has praised for their “poetic insight,” have a universality that has made them resonant to listeners of all ages and earned them champions ranging from the young comic actor Michael Cera to the National Public Radio host Scott Simon.
Each of the 13 tracks comprising Grrr…is a succinct composition, and yet the album also coheres seamlessly as a cycle of song. The melody and/or rhythm of one track is often contiguous with the next. As always, Rice and Rudder are responsible not only for the writing, but the lion’s share of the playing and the recording: the guitars, pianos, marimbas, ukeleles and vocals. And, as before, Darbie Nowatka shares in the singing. Otherwise, the album features contributions from a number of their friends: drums and percussion by Michael Tapper, horns by Jon Natchez and Kelly Pratt, and strings by Daniel Hart. Bryce Goggin (Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Luna, Sebadoh) offered the band some invaluable production tips and, at his famed Trout Recording studio in Brooklyn, recorded the drums and mixed the album.
Grrr…is Bishop Allen’s second album for Dead Oceans. The first, The Broken String, contains songs to which big crowds sing along in gigs across North America and Europe. The band’s following has also been augmented by songs from The Broken String being featured in a Sony digital camera commercial that aired repeatedly on network television (“Click, Click, Click, Click”) and, most recently, in the blockbuster film Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist; Bishop Allen performs the song “Middle Management” in a key scene.
Outside of Bishop Allen, Rice and Rudder are both accomplished actors. Rice starred in their friend Andrew Bujalski’s immensely acclaimed recent film, Mutual Appreciation, while Rudder starred in Bujalski’s prior work, Funny Ha Ha. Rice is featured in numerous upcoming films, including Let Them Chirp Awhile, which will be released theatrically in December 2008.