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Daniel Rossen shines in solo debut

By Aaron Burstein
On April 5, 2012

I'll admit it. Despite their current position as indie royalty, I have mixed feelings about Grizzly Bear. However, within this past year, two excellent Grizzly Bear side projects have arisen. The first was a synth-pop project from electronics man Chris Taylor called CANT. The second is the solo material of guitarist Daniel Rossen, which is the subject of this review. His debut EP, "Silent Hour/Golden Mile," may have surpassed both "CANT" and Grizzly Bear in a mere five tracks.

In terms of sound, "Silent Hour/Golden Mile" contrasts the dense psychedelia of Grizzly Bear and the electronically-induced haze of "CANT." Rossen opts for concise, tightly-arranged folk-pop. Perhaps it's somewhat comparable to Grizzly Bear's "Veckatimest" album, but "Silent Hour/Golden Mile" definitely harnesses the earthy folk element to a greater extent. Drums, bass and strings all accent the arrangements, but at the core of every piece is a guy singing over an acoustic guitar. That simple, ground-up approach to songwriting allows for a new level of honesty and emotional accessibility.

"Silent Hour/Golden Mile" is a five track EP that barely clocks in at 23 minutes. Yet the ground Roseen manages to cover throughout that 23 minutes is incredible. Each track is flowing, catchy and evocative in its own unique, but cohesive way. "Up On High" begins as a humble acoustic piece, steadily moving towards the powerful, exalted sound of its namesake. "Return to Form" is an ethereal ballad marked with shapeless acoustic guitars and carried by a tentative bass line. The title track has a tense, circular feel that makes use of a highly effective force-restraint dynamic.

However, the true masterpiece of the album is "Silent Song," the extraordinary lead single, which is as melodically infectious as it is foreboding. It begins as a warning against the uncovering of memories best left undisturbed, culminating into an anthem of loss and regret.

All in all, "Silent Hour/Golden Mile" is an impressive debut solo effort. Though it makes me eager for a full-length effort, it may be brevity that makes it all the more special. For now, anyone in need of some delightful (but still occasionally gloomy) folk-pop will surely take a shine to Daniel Rossen's new solo material.


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