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Polar Bear Club - The Summer of George [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)

Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club: The Summer of George [7 inch]The Summer of George [7 inch] (2009)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: OverDefinedOverDefined
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I first got hit with the Polar Bear Club bug at a church basement show in some suburb of Boston. Looking back, it was a pretty stunning lineup, with PBC supporting its now classic EP The Redder, The Better, and playing alongside the hugely under-hyped Capital, Thieves and Assassins, Transit and the.
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I first got hit with the Polar Bear Club bug at a church basement show in some suburb of Boston. Looking back, it was a pretty stunning lineup, with PBC supporting its now classic EP The Redder, The Better, and playing alongside the hugely under-hyped Capital, Thieves and Assassins, Transit and the unfortunately disbanded McClane. Even with a stellar lineup like that, PBC stole the show with their mix of high-energy power and catchy flawless execution. While not sonically reminiscent, their presence reminded me of the power Thursday had during the Full Collapse days, with the audiences hanging on every word and move of the bands' respective frontmen. I picked up the EP that night and for me it quickly became the soundtrack of that summer.

Fast-forward to now. Having gone full-time, released a full-length that garnered them a bigger fanbase, a jump to the suddenly pop-punk Bridge Nine label, and expectations couldn't be higher. For me, their first full-length, Sometimes Things Just Disappear was a grower. Their debut EP was an instant classic, but the full-length didn't make sense upon first listen. Much of the blatant anthemizing was gone and the peak moments were fewer and in stranger places, like at the exact beginning of the song ("Our Ballads") or buried three to four minutes in ("Convinced I'm Wrong"). Upon repeated listening, the subtle hooks showed themselves and the near-perfect mix of melody and aggression eventually won me over.

With this teaser EP, which is likely a Seinfeld reference, Bridge Nine gives us two cuts from the forthcoming Chasing Hamburg LP and a B-side. In much the same way that STJD didn't hit me right away, the EP follows that same path, with songs that are at first impression passable, but reveal their depth upon further listens.

Opener "Living Saints" starts out in straightforward PBC fashion with angular major key guitar lines and a catchy first line from vocalist Jimmy Stadt. The song barrels along with lyrics lamenting the changes that friendships go through as people age that focuses on the hook, "growing up isn't moving on."

The second track, "Dead Man" is the non-album B-side and it makes sense because it's a good song, but no classic for sure. For a PBC song there are mostly no surprises except that during the verse, Stadt sounds a little like Billie Joe Armstrong. It seems that after touring a good deal for the past year, he's gained even more control of his voice and can shift quickly between the three to four "voices" he uses. It's definitely a skill and a useful one at that, but when pushed to its limit can sound disjointed.

The closer, "Boxes" is a critical musing on the attitude of successful musicians, culminating in the line, "You don't have to be an asshole to be an artist." With lines like "When we were young we'd watch our idols act above it all. Invented introverts all fighting for the sake of not looking like us. Don't forget who you need, yeah, we paid your way," the lyrics are startlingly straightforward, similarly to the aforementioned "Our Ballads." The melody and feel of the chorus definitely treads some new ground for the band, but overall, the song maintains the same mix of parts that has served them well in the past.

Featuring only one song that won't be on the full-length, this is probably not a must-have release except for die-hard fans. However, as an indication of their new album, but for the tighter arrangements and more varied melodic approach, it is a good sign that PBC is staying the course of their last album.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dear Landlord - Dream HomesPolar Bear Club - Chasing HamburgThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundDillinger Four - C I V I L W A RShook Ones - The Unquotable A.M.H.Paint It Black - Amnesia [7 inch]Polar Bear Club - Sometimes Things Just DisappearBanner Pilot - CollapserPropagandhi - Supporting CasteThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
JimmyChoo1 (March 25, 2011)

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hayman (August 9, 2009)

Only 3 songs? Why not just wait for the album?

icapped2pac (August 9, 2009)

"Living Saints" and "Boxes" alone are worth 4 stars, and while I don't think "Dead Man" is the worst song ever, I'm glad it's just a b-side. All the hate/backlash is not surprising. These guys make passionate music that strikes a strong chord with some people, and other people don't feel it at all. No big deal. I figure it's just a lot more people giving them a chance lately, and with all the positive comments they've gotten, there's always someone who wants to cancel it out. Just last week I met 4 guys in their late 20's at a show who had lost track of new music over the years but were (are) big HWM/SBB fans, and they loved "Living Saints" upon first listen. And I know I, for one, am still thoroughly stoked for "Chasing Hamburg".

waitingroom (August 9, 2009)

Mikexdude didn't review this?!

OverDefined (August 9, 2009)

"now classic"? i'm sure all 2,000 people that have heard that EP agree with you, but that's a pretty sweeping statement.

If one person thinks something is classic, then it is classic to that person. There's no such thing as fact when it comes this type of thing.

And you want to talk numbers??!? Weak logic, especially on a punk-based website.

scientistrock (August 9, 2009)

Seinfeld quotes are None More Black's thing.

the_other_scott (August 9, 2009)

"now classic"? i'm sure all 2,000 people that have heard that EP agree with you, but that's a pretty sweeping statement.

onegirlarmy (August 8, 2009)

"Yo OneGirlArmy, are you Barrie by any chance?"

xshoutoutx... yeah I am. Who is this? Your profile says you're from Brooklyn so I probably know you, just can't tell by the username.

splendidtune (August 8, 2009)

I love this band. Living Saints is the best on here.

mikexdude (August 8, 2009)

One positive review and comments = hype? What about the lack of news posted about them? You know, the news I find a day late and submit? Besides me, do people go into off topic conversations about them like they did for against me, dear landlord, gaslight etc? No. You need to stop being a negative nancy.

oldpunkerforever (August 8, 2009)

comment below says it all-oldpunker-

mikeva (August 8, 2009)

"Polar Bear Club is far from hyped on here. 90% of comments referring to them are a variant of "I don't get the PBC love". The other 10% are favourable, but from the same 1 to 3 people. Opposite of hype. Like Mike said, any thoughts otherwise are in your head."

go read their last review from 2008. i read it a couple weeks ago to see what all the fuss was about and got bombarded with "OMG AWESOME RECORD OF THE YEAR 9/10." went to take multiple listens and i got another pop-punk/post hardcorish with gruff/whiny vocals genericore band.

damnitsderek (August 8, 2009)

I can't wait to see these guys in two weeks.

donfeo (August 8, 2009)

Both Polar Bear Club and D4 make me happy.

Score is for orgcore, which rarely lets me down.

mikexdude (August 8, 2009)

I know it was tp antagonize me. Also, duh of course the comparison remains. They play the same genre, I'm not denying that, but people need to give this band more credit for originality. Cause they may not be revolutionary, but when I heard them I know it's them..

Funny you mention the drums. That's one of the biggest differences to me between PBC and SBB.

xshoutoutx (August 8, 2009)

"Like Mike said, any thoughts otherwise are in your head."

AAAAAGH, you two go play tummy sticks!

My comparison of SBB and PBS remains! Listen to the drum transitions and song sequences closer, and you'll notice a very strong correlation between the two!

xshoutoutx (August 8, 2009)

"Don't be an idiot."

...apparently humor doesn't transmit well through the internet. Like I said, that last comment, 'the carbon copy one,' was more just to antagonize you a little bit. I completely recognize the idiosyncratic dynamics between the bands, but I still think you believing there is no other band out there that has their sound is completely inane. My SBB / PBC comparison still holds... but so does my love and respect for this band! So less fighting... more rocking! Will you be at Fest this year Michael?

Blackjaw_ (August 8, 2009)

Polar Bear Club sounds very little like Small Brown Bike, other than the fact that both bands have gruff vocals. And when listened to, those gruff vocals are very different than those of the other band. The instrumentation is nothing alike, besides the fact that they use electric guitars, bass and drums... seriously.

Dillinger Four is the standard 'org sound. Polar Bear Club is not. If Polar Bear Club was, why are there so few bands discussed here that sound like them but so many that sound like Dillinger Four? And then those bands that sound like Dillinger Four are given album of the month, whereas the bands similar to Polar Bear Club don't even make one of the 20 spots. This kind of leads to my next paragraph/point...

Polar Bear Club is far from hyped on here. 90% of comments referring to them are a variant of "I don't get the PBC love". The other 10% are favourable, but from the same 1 to 3 people. Opposite of hype. Like Mike said, any thoughts otherwise are in your head.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

boring, uninteresting, and completey forgetable. the org hype machine strikes again.

No, shut up. Everyone who talks about this band that isn't me on this website says they're bad or uninteresting. There was no hype but the ones you all made up in your head.

dlangl4 (August 7, 2009)

D4 IS the orgcore sound, followed by the Lawrence Arms.

mikeva (August 7, 2009)

boring, uninteresting, and completey forgetable. the org hype machine strikes again.

inagreendase (August 7, 2009)

Wouldn't the D4 sound be standard Org shit?

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

Xote, you should see Assholeparade in DC in a few weeks.

SexualSunshine (August 7, 2009)

Standard org shit. Not a fan.

thatsyouth (August 7, 2009)

Fuck you telegraphcocks, Thrice is AWESOME. Score is for Thrice.

telegraphrocks (August 7, 2009)

Don't worry about it.

Hey, look over there! What's that!?!?!?

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

How do you know what I look like? I am so flattered : )

telegraphrocks (August 7, 2009)

If you weren't an attractive dude you'd soooooooooooo have spit flying in your face right now...

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

I can say whatever I want, because you know, I'm right :D

telegraphrocks (August 7, 2009)

"their music is better than anything being put out now."

With all due respect to you, mike, that is the one of the dumbest claims of the year.
You, that guy, that girl over there... you can love your PBC, that's fine... I don't get it, maybe I never will... but come on, don't say shit like that.

Score is for your what-I-imagine-to-be-your-sexy-body.

RedElephant (August 7, 2009)

just after hearing this i'm pretty sure their new alum will be better than Disappear. might be my most anticipated for the rest of the year.

telegraphrocks (August 7, 2009)

The Redder The Better was a good release... the following full-length I thought was boring... this was really hard to listen to.
The second song sounds like a Thrice throw-away... and Thrice really isn't that good to begin with.

Too much proverbial-cum is wasted on these guys, and I don't understand why.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

My biggest pet peave is when people dismiss a band as a carbon copy of bands and use it as a reason to not like them.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

Never thought they were revolutionary, just think they're the best band doing this sttyle of music. I mean come on, listen to "Another Night in The Rock," "His Devotee," or "To the Engravers." Then listen to "In Tune" or "Safe in Sound."

They have about as much in common as any band who shares a genre with another band. SBB drop tunes and plays mostly chords, pbc has wah wah solos and angular riffs that sound like braid at times and sometimes like bad religion. If you really think they are a carbon copy of SBB thenyou must think SBB is a carbon copy of hot water music. We all know that's not true, but they do share the same influence. Don't be an idiot.

xshoutoutx (August 7, 2009)

"Such a lazy comparioson. Polar Bear Club and Small Brown Bike are only vocally (only when he's gruff) and have a timing tendencies to small brown bike. SBB never had that many leads, or that poppy, or anything like them. I hate that comparison so much. Both bands I consider very dear to my heart, and I can honestly say they're barely similiar."

AAAGH... pipe down, you wanker. We all have that band that we get hyper-sensitive about, and delusional over. For me, The Lawrence Arms could take a shit, press it, and release it, and i'd still buy it and think it's better than 99.9% of the other shit (heh!) out there.I just thought your childish retort of 'no band ever sounding like PBC' merited a rational response. When I made the comparison, I wasn't talking about old PBC, but for the last 2 years or so with "Sometimes..." and now this release, the direction they are going in bares undeniable parallels to "Dead Reckoning."
So don't get your panties in a twist, and realize your beloved Polar Bear Club is nothing more than a generic, washed up, 90's revival, carbon copy of Small Brown Bike!!!!

...now I'm just being a sadistic asswipe! HAHA. Like I said man, I like em, but they're nothing revolutionary like you often, romantically make them out to be. FACT!

CommonRider81 (August 7, 2009)

I promised to give these guys another chance because of all of the love by so many people after the last record but this is as equally unappealing to me. Oh well can't make myself enjoy it I guess. I'll just have to sit this one out...

drugmoney (August 7, 2009)

While not sonically reminiscent, their presence reminded me of the power Thursday had during the Full Collapse days, with the audiences hanging on every word and move of the bands’ respective frontmen.

Saw Thursday during the Full Collapse days, and I'm going to watch PBC for the first time Wednesday. We'll see if this holds truth.

OverDefined (August 7, 2009)

""...Mike, are you serious dude (haha)? I love PBC, but Small Brown Bike did this same stuff years ago man! It's nothing groundbreaking... just like most other stuff we listen to. But hey, who's complaining?

Such a lazy comparioson. Polar Bear Club and Small Brown Bike are only vocally (only when he's gruff) and have a timing tendencies to small brown bike. SBB never had that many leads, or that poppy, or anything like them. I hate that comparison so much. Both bands I consider very dear to my heart, and I can honestly say they're barely similiar."

Boom. Roasted.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

...Mike, are you serious dude (haha)? I love PBC, but Small Brown Bike did this same stuff years ago man! It's nothing groundbreaking... just like most other stuff we listen to. But hey, who's complaining?

Such a lazy comparioson. Polar Bear Club and Small Brown Bike are only vocally (only when he's gruff) and have a timing tendencies to small brown bike. SBB never had that many leads, or that poppy, or anything like them. I hate that comparison so much. Both bands I consider very dear to my heart, and I can honestly say they're barely similiar.

blatz_me (August 7, 2009)

I don't see these guys ever topping Most Miserable Life. That song is truly amazing. I listen to everything they put out hoping they'll make a song as good as that...but I just don't hear it...

thatsyouth (August 7, 2009)

I purposely didn't buy this because I don't want to ruin the flow of the record when it comes out in September. When I listen to songs off the record way before it comes out, I eventually skip them when I get the record and I don't want to do that. I'm just weird like that. I still need to give that b-side a listen though. Score is for how much I fucking love Polar Bear Club.

nate_derby (August 7, 2009)

It's pretty good. Living Saints is catchy and Boxes is easily the stand-out track. As a fan of this band from (literally) day one I can say that "Dead Men" is the worst song they've ever written. It's like bad radio-rock. Not afraid to say that. Beyond that, the 7" has gotten me ready for the new full-length. Even if it's not like the good 'ol days of PBC, the music is still good, I still want to support the band...and it's really special to have PBC vinyl knowing we had to wait 3 years and 3 releases just for SOMETHING on wax.

xshoutoutx (August 7, 2009)

"Who exactly do these guys sound like that doesn't stand out?"-mikexdude

...Mike, are you serious dude (haha)? I love PBC, but Small Brown Bike did this same stuff years ago man! It's nothing groundbreaking... just like most other stuff we listen to. But hey, who's complaining?

mattp330 (August 7, 2009)

dead man is phenominal, i can't believe its not on the new album

laserguidedbygod (August 7, 2009)

I have to agree with all the disappointing sentiments here. After like a half dozen listens I still don't remember what the fuck any of these songs even sound like. I hope this isn't a sign that they don't have the magic in them anymore.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

how did i know mikexdude would have already commented, you know, after hearing a few songs by these guys, i just dont get em. One of those bands that just kind of sound like so many others I cant really tell the difference, nothing really stands out.

Who exactly do these guys sound like that doesn't stand out? I can understand not liking their sound, but saying they don't stand out or they sound like so many others is just plain wrong.

InThe_Evening (August 7, 2009)

I guess onegirlarmy any I are the only one's who think alike. I thought dead man was quite a bit better than both living saints and boxes. Overall a disappointment, I was really hoping that PBC would regain the form they had on The Redder the Better, but Im starting think they never will which is truly sad.

defianceohioequalslove (August 7, 2009)

This shit's the jams, no doubt. Fuckin love 'Living Saints' and 'Boxes'. To me, it's what I expected out of this EP, which is awesome.

These guys can do no wrong.

xshoutoutx (August 7, 2009)

Yo OneGirlArmy, are you Barrie by any chance?

Blackjaw_ (August 7, 2009)

These songs are good, but disappointing just because of the band's previous material. If anyone else released this it would have been great, but because it's PBC and it competes against their earlier stuff it's harder to like. I still have hopes for the full length.

Also, if you feel let down by The Summer Of George, check out Campaign's free EP, H1N1. It's on my blog, one of the first posts. It's definitely better than this, though in the same sort of vein.

oldpunkerforever (August 7, 2009)

how did i know mikexdude would have already commented, you know, after hearing a few songs by these guys, i just dont get em. One of those bands that just kind of sound like so many others I cant really tell the difference, nothing really stands out. Maybe that will change when I see them at the f2f show next month, for now? ehh. -oldpunker-

xshoutoutx (August 7, 2009)

score is for mikexdude not doing this review!!!

...partiality issues if you will.

onegirlarmy (August 7, 2009)

Disagree, Dead Men is phenomenal. It's so catchy. I find it hard to believe that nobody else seems to enjoy it. I can't get enough. Oh well, to each their own I guess.

overdefined (August 7, 2009)

Mikexdude- email me back

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

And I don't mean not staying the course cause it's a drastic change in sound, but because they're moving further away from the aggression that was on Sometimes. I thought they'd mix the melody and post hardcore/hardcore influence a bit better. I remember loving chasing hamburg, but now I am worried for the real listen. Here's hoping for me to be proved wrong. I still love these guys and their music is better than anything being put out now. Score's for the teaser.

mikexdude (August 7, 2009)

"Dead Man" is disappointing because it starts off like Hot Water Music then starts getting boring. Living saints is just SO fucking good and immediately grabbing. Boxes rules but some of the melodies almost sound radio-music predictable if that makes sense.

However, as an indication of their new album, but for the tighter arrangements and more varied melodic approach, it is a good sign that PBC is staying the course of their last album.

I absolutely disagree with this statement. This is NOT staying the course.

inagreendase (August 7, 2009)

I thought "Living Saints" was kinda generic when I first heard it on the B9 sampler, but it grew on me as a really fun song. The B-side is okay -- definitely sounds like a B-side.

"Boxes," though...FUCK. Smokes through and through.

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