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Polar Bear Club - Chasing Hamburg (Cover Artwork)

Polar Bear Club

Polar Bear Club: Chasing HamburgChasing Hamburg (2009)
Bridge Nine Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


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

I heard Chasing Hamburg on my last day of high school, two or so months ago. In other words: Before you. It was a goosebump-inducing, cinematic listen that concluded the proverbial chapter of my awkward teen years -- a chapter that included Polar Bear Club from the moment The Redder, The Better bell.
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I heard Chasing Hamburg on my last day of high school, two or so months ago. In other words: Before you. It was a goosebump-inducing, cinematic listen that concluded the proverbial chapter of my awkward teen years -- a chapter that included Polar Bear Club from the moment The Redder, The Better bellowed from my top-floor bedroom. Not being able to listen to their Bridge 9 debut a second time haunted me for the remainder of the two months until now, and after setting the bar to an unreachable magnitude, I was disappointed that it didn't strike me like it did on my initial run through. Though not the "instant" classic that I'm sure a lot of us were expecting, after a few listens to soak up all the subtleties behind the poppy outer crust, Chasing Hamburg proves to be a brilliant and captivating spin.

Drop-tuned opener "See the Wind" may be the heaviest the band has ever gone, but don't let the Bridge 9 sticker fool you -- this is far from a typical, polished, "hardcore" album; the breakdown is sheer post-hardcore perfection with its ringing open-string leads and unconventional start-stop rhythms. Even the guest vocals performed by Have Heart's Pat Flynn sound closer to Chuck Ragan than a melodramatic straight-edge hardcore kid from Boston. The two subsequent tracks, Summer of George's "Living Saints" and "Boxes," are some of the more poppier tracks the band's ever written, but still executed with same minor arppeggios and intricacies that made Sometimes Things Just Disappear so irresistable.

Track five, "Drifting Thing" is where the band starts throwing curveballs. This track is almost only guitar and vocals with a subtle drumbeat about :35 in, a dynamic that the band (who is a dynamic band, at that) has yet to do. It's something Rise Against should have put on The Sufferer and the Witness. And though the melodies and harmonies still owe their tendencies to bands like Small Brown Bike, Polar Bear Club has added some flavor to the notes on their usual scale; "Song to Persona" (a song that includes a guest spot by Marathon's Aaron Scott) has an interesting minor flare, while "Old Fisher Burial Ground" begins with an almost Carlos Santana-esque solo and tone. The latter's chorus recalls some "Bug Parade" moments shifting into progressively catchier sections until the song's end.

Matt Bayles' production is quite different than what was done for Sometimes; the instruments are more panned and less layered; the toms sound less heavy; the record has an overall live feel. In terms of songwriting, some of the drum choices could have been a little better. When I heard the American Football-style clean picking behind the intro solo in "Old Fisher Burial Ground," I really wanted to hear some more ride-oriented percussion like "Instrumental," from their demo. Also, the title track and closer is far from the climactic "Convinced I'm Wrong," but in context with the rest of the songs wraps things up quite nicely.

Chasing Hamburg, my most anticipated record, took some time to really deliver, but you really get out of it with what you put in. And before anyone starts crying for the "bias police," just remember: The biggest fans are the harshest critics. And with catchy and energetic numbers like "One Hit Back," "Light of Local Eyes" and "Living Saints," this record is undeniably one of the best records of the year.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Polar Bear Club - Sometimes Things Just DisappearThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Flatliners - CavalcadeDear Landlord - Dream HomesThe Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsPolar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt PrideA Wilhelm Scream - Career SuicideThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimBanner Pilot - Collapser

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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.
dcbandaid (August 15, 2011)

Awesome CD!!!!

THobbes (June 29, 2011)

pretty good review for a high school kid, nice work.

gugl0003 (May 3, 2011)

written by a pro *and not an 18 year old

gugl0003 (May 3, 2011)

Did you spend two extra years in High School? cuz this review reads like it was written by a pro. excellent work dude...

acidpiss (April 11, 2011)

great album.

Eileen (July 18, 2010)

Absolutely love this album, it's so awesome.
Read my review at:
http://atthesinema.blogspot.com/2010/07/underrated-albums-fr om-2009.html
Thanks!

DickCHeese666 (June 18, 2010)

polar bear club rules

TSOL (December 5, 2009)

This album sure is accessible, but it doesn't do much for a long-time PBC fan like me. The new short songs are straight forward punk rock; they lost alot of the guitar interludes in the songs, the lead guitar intros, for a more straightforward punk structure.

The songs on Chasing Hamburg were not complex enough and I found myself back to listening to their back-catalog within hours of popping this cd in for the first time.

This cd never grew on me, and I got it a few days before its official release. I hope this album is not a step towards mainstream, because unlike Gaslight, I don't think they can pull it off and still sound amazing. Score is for letting me down with poppy-Jimmy Eat World garbage like "Drifting Thing". What happened to you guys?

genebuonaccorsi (November 20, 2009)

chasing hamburg is the best song they've written to date

VictimOfADriveBy (November 15, 2009)

Almost perfect...except "Dead Man" was left off it and they should have put "To The Engravers" on it. Top 3 albums of the year!

shitsfucked (October 1, 2009)

This album could use one more possibley fast song... its before i want it. but still rules hard but not as hard i guess.

brokenrecord (September 29, 2009)

really solid release. I actually thought drifting thing was one of the best songs on the album next to living saints.

epoch (September 18, 2009)

"Living Saints" is now my new favorite PBC song. Great song, great album. No complaints at all.

spoon_of_grimbo (September 15, 2009)

amazing album! only thing stopping it from getting a 10 for me, is that they left "dead man" off it. i love that song so much that i've slotted it between living saints and boxes in the running order on my mp3 player.

yourwifesboyfriend (September 15, 2009)

Oh sorry I didnt mean that in a "Crap review crap band sorta way" great review.

yourwifesboyfriend (September 15, 2009)

Just can't get into this gave the Redder the better a shot but no dice I just find these guys really boring.

mpc (September 14, 2009)

Solid review, nice job not getting too hyperbolic about one of your favorite bands. I'd have a hard time doing so if reviewing, say, an American Steel or Avail record. Not a huge fan of this band but I can definitely recognize why they are huge in the world of .orgcore.

genebuonaccorsi (September 12, 2009)

chasing hamburg is such a great song

tsiege (September 12, 2009)

To start off I LOVE polar bear club, however I am not a fan of chasing hamburg. Its slow boring and pretty much all sounds the same. And I agree living saints is a good song (not their best), but one song does not make up for an album, an EP maybe. Id have to say this reviewer really over rated the album.

mikexdude (September 10, 2009)

The tab is for thatsyouth. ; )

mikexdude (September 10, 2009)

So "See the Wind" is actually NOT drop-tuned. My mistake. It sounds like it because it's super heavy.

|-------------------0-0-0-0-0----------0--------
|---------- ---------5-5-4-4-4-7-9---9---0-------
|-6--------6-------------- ----------8--------------
|-6--------6--2-2--------------------- ------------
|-4--2-2--4--2-2---------------------------------
|-----0-0-----0-0-------------------------------

scruffy (September 10, 2009)

"How the hell can a song so simple and static ever be "insanely good"?

Oh right, this is a punk site."

Damn right.

Also, I second that "Drifting Thing" is a great song. I love anything that subverts expectations like that, and it's super awesome whenever it's done with only a few power chords.

screeching_bottlerocket (September 10, 2009)

I don't understand why you people are saying "Drifting Thing" is a bad song. It's one of my favorites. Though "Living Saints" might possibly be my favorite song of the year.

deadxlast (September 10, 2009)

I have completely neutral opinion of this band. I'm gonna try to see them in Chicago but I have a feeling that they will be completely blown away by the other bands on the tour.

Also, do they have two singers or does he just go back and forth between singing all pretty and clean to sounding exactly like Jim Ward?

thatsyouth (September 10, 2009)

How the hell can a song so simple and static ever be "insanely good"?

Oh right, this is a punk site.


...

vizzle88 (September 10, 2009)

disregard the first score.

vizzle88 (September 10, 2009)

So just like almost all people, I think this takes some time to fully appreciate. But when you give it time, it's pretty good. Of course "Drifting Thing" left me confused and a little dissapointed and the begining of "The Old Fisher Burial Ground" sounds like Santana made a guest appearance, but the songs get better upon a few listens.

mikexdude (September 10, 2009)

I agree with Scruffy that none of the songs sound that much the same (except boxes and living saints have similar verse riffing), but the reason I liked Polar Bear Club was to me, there songs didn't sound samey at all. It's funny that you hear the complete opposite.

scruffy (September 10, 2009)

"There is one good song, Living Saints, and a bunch of other songs that sound like one another. "

Did you listen to the album? Everything else this band has done has been overly samey, with too much guitar wanking. This album actually has variety. I don't know how you think "The Old Fisher Burial Ground", "Song To Persona" and "Drifting Thing" all sound alike, or like any of the other songs. I tried to like their other stuff, tried to see what everyone on here saw in it, and couldn't. I can't remember a single line or riff from any other song of theirs, but after a few listens, I can remember half of this album already. Lots of interesting stuff going on here, a great blend of technical ability, refreshing creativity and pop songwriting, and they're getting fucked over by fickle fans who over-hyped the first album and now refuse to let anything else live up to it.

Take that attitude to Pitchfork. This is the best thing they've released.

MN_DrNick (September 10, 2009)

Not as bad as you guys are making it sound. Yeah, it tends to be boring at parts, but overall it's not bad.

MDooley (September 10, 2009)

I enjoy Living Saints quite a bit. The rest of the album seems like your run of the mill punk: not bad, but nothing to actually pay money for.

mattramone (September 10, 2009)

Anyone who likes this band is a big idiot.

Blackjaw_ (September 9, 2009)

How the hell can a song so simple and static ever be "insanely good"?

Oh right, this is a punk site.

mike_b (September 9, 2009)

I don't know what you guys are talking about... "Drifiting Thing" is an insanely good song.

Whatever. Different opinions I guess.

This album is great.

KevinH (September 9, 2009)

I'm really loving this record. 8/10 sounds about right to me.

drugmoney (September 9, 2009)

I've been listening to this more than Daisy, I really like it. Drifting Thing is the worst song on the record, but every other song is good. Just an opinion, oh and by the way fuck yours. Good review

ozmanx (September 9, 2009)

Before me you says? ok I'm out

ffwoodycooks (September 9, 2009)

i wonder why Tater Tot-Head in a Tracksuit never took off like King King did?

Cheesetits (September 9, 2009)

It's okay, but it's also pretty boring.

Grue (September 9, 2009)

There is one good song, Living Saints, and a bunch of other songs that sound like one another. Overrated by the reviewer. I loved Sometimes Things Just Disappear, but this sounds nothing like it. And fuck this band for cancelling their show in Moscow.

Allon (September 9, 2009)

ah, that was aaron scott after all. good to know my ears aren't completely busted yet

stephenharris (September 9, 2009)

I don't understand why people are hating on this album. People always be hatin' on bands maturing.

My review? https://www.decoymusic.com/reviews/3007

badsceneyourfault (September 9, 2009)

Great record, great band. I am happy to see they didn't try to just make another "Sometimes things just disappear" and made some musical progress.

R3vengeTherapy (September 8, 2009)

Bah. Score. Forgot.

R3vengeTherapy (September 8, 2009)

This record wasn't really a disappointment, it's good. It's about on par with the last one, which I guess would lead some to be disappointed. They've continued to grow as a band, but with that comes the growing pains. "Song to Persona" has some cool stuff going on, but never really "gets there" for me. "Drifting Thing".... yeah. Not really a highlight. "One Hit Back" took me by surprise. Didn't know they had some pent-up Against Me!-style anger.

cherrycolarain (September 8, 2009)

Awesome stuff, loved it as soon as I got it.

And I don't mind "Drifting Thing". It feels really filler-ish but at the same time I love the vocals on it, fuck it, it's an alright tune.

120db (September 8, 2009)

Mediocre.
The Redder was Better.

Dante3000 (September 8, 2009)

That cousin It is huge. He's probably reeking mad havoc on that tiny city.
-Dante

friokir (September 8, 2009)

hmm.. there was supposed to be a plus between voice and cheap vodka.

friokir (September 8, 2009)

score is for the songs on which his voice isn't super gruff and reminds me of the explosion's dudes voice cheap, low quality vodka and university life.

cubaricho (September 8, 2009)

stopped reading after the first two sentences. you're just so cool man, I couldn't handle it!

mikexdude (September 8, 2009)

Telegraph, what exactly could you hate about The Redder the Better?

telegraphrocks (September 8, 2009)

I'm not hating this one as much as their previous releases.

However, I still don't see myself listening to it more than 2 more times... ever.

SKAtepunk (September 8, 2009)

Great review. And really who cares if hes a "dumbass" high school kid. Obviously he has some music knowledge if he can talk all the techinal stuff and has the conections to hear this first before anyone. Score is for mikexdude and this review.

icapped2pac (September 8, 2009)

I can't bring myself to say anything negative about this band or their music considering they've given me some of the best hours/nights of my life, so instead I'll just quote other people's comments that I agree with.

"I'm still not sure how I feel abut this record. I mean, theyre one of my favorite bands, but I think I just had too high of expectations for this. I mean, theres some great fuckin songs on it, but "Drifting Thing"? Really?"

"Also, my favorite songs off this are "Living Saints" and "Boxes", which I've been listening to for quite some time now. I think If I'd heard this cd all at once, It would have hit much harder."
(I especially agree here, as right now it's pretty much "Living Saints"/"Boxes", and then everything else.)

"I'd say this record is a small letdown. In fact, the expectations were probably too high after the suberb EP and the very good debut album. It lacks intensity at times"

"I just can't get into this. I'm still trying. It's not awful. But it's just not near as good as I expected and that is such a disappointment for me since I'm such a huge fucking fan of this band."

And finally, I hope (and bet) this guy is right: "just wait till you haters hear the songs live...then you'll S their D."

Just in case, I'll have my DSL's ready to go come October. Goose gets it first because he's such a sex symbol.

hello-rockview (September 8, 2009)

it was a really good album after a couple of listens...Although Summer Of George EP made it seem like this was going to be like one of the greatest albums ever which it is not. But it's still probably gonna be in my top 10 for the year

cr0mwell (September 8, 2009)

hmm.. the Whoas and Hey Heys in the first 2 tracks get on my freakin nerves... overall, has some good bits, but has some serious generic nu metal moments and wtf lyrics

dejafuneral (September 8, 2009)

I'm gonna give this another try. I listened once and was pretty disappointed (especially with "Drifting Thing"), but I find the best records are usually growers. I love almost everything this band has done.

Good review, Mikey.

xIxKilledxJesusx (September 8, 2009)

who cares if sydbarret is kind of a dick sometimes? hes completely right

TommyPickles (September 8, 2009)

I like it a lot.

deadpan (September 8, 2009)

Their live show was so good at Reading. I wasn't sure what to make of the new track they played, and I kind of deliberately avoided listening to the Summer of George because I wanted to wait for the full album experience. Still, I need to hear this. STJD is just stupid good.

Also, I'm glad mikexdude reviewed this. A fanboy he may be, but he's at least made an attempt to remain relatively impartial, as well as actually writing a considered review. And isn't a total dumbass. And I can totally empathise with not being able to grow facial hair.

defianceohioequalslove (September 8, 2009)

"Review sucks for three reasons

1. You're some dumb ass high school kid

2. Your review is pretentious"

Calling something pretentious when you just used "dumb ass high school kid" as an insult? Really? Wow, way to suck...

Bryne (September 8, 2009)

That's not the cover art.

Fixed, thanks.

Bryne (September 8, 2009)

Slight letdown, but it ain't bad. "Boxes" is the best song by a mile.

eatdogs (September 8, 2009)

i like. there are some great pop moments throughout the record. for some reason, i like their demo best, but their entire output is better than most bands who have been around much longer.

dev (September 8, 2009)

That's not the cover art.

bornofthenight (September 8, 2009)

How long till sign 2 major?

Pendalum_McGonagal (September 8, 2009)

just wait till you haters hear the songs live...then you'll S their D.

score is for the fact that it is an AMAZING album once you shut the fuck up and just listen to it.

mikexdude (September 8, 2009)

As a musician, that's kinda' the way I describe things. I'll make sure on my next review to be less technical. I do see what you're saying.

mikexdude (September 8, 2009)

3. Your review covers very little of what the songs sound like. No one here gives a shit about dropped minor chords and appregiaos (sp). Take this shit to Guitar World.

Sorry, cutie ; )

thatsyouth (September 8, 2009)

Score is for how much of a fucking dumbass SydBarrett is.

thatsyouth (September 8, 2009)

I still stand by everything we said a week ago, Mike. I just can't dig it. Living Saints is great and that sweet vocal at the end of One Hit Back is classic but I just can't get into this. I'm still trying. It's not awful. But it's just not near as good as I expected and that is such a disappointment for me since I'm such a huge fucking fan of this band.

Piata (September 8, 2009)

"Song to Persona" is one of the best PBC songs ever made. Definitely better than their last album. The whole album feels very fluid.

Blackjaw_ (September 8, 2009)

Man, if Strike Anywhere's EP with three decent songs and one good song got 4.5, Mike giving this 4 shouldn't even be an issue. FUCK DA HATERZ.

DreeeamWeaver (September 8, 2009)

mikexdude just got out of high school? diapercore. score is for his inability to grow a beard.

Blackjaw_ (September 8, 2009)

I didn't really like it at first, but I do now. Still sounds like Anchor Arms singing Rise Against songs. I still find track 5 laughably bad. I think it's fine Mike reviewed it. Another short statement.

Blackjaw_ (September 8, 2009)

I didn't really like it at first, but I do now. Still sounds like Anchor Arms singing Rise Against songs. I still find track 5 laughably bad. I think it's fine Mike reviewed it. Another short statement.

LeightonESmith (September 8, 2009)

This is better than the last album for sure.
PBC is the two O's.
Orgcore
and
Overrated

I'd trade 20 PBCs for 1 HWM.

14theroad (September 8, 2009)

The cover art is incorrect firstly. And secondly, this is blatant editorialism/fanboyism. I've read things from so many people who ever LOVED the last record that said this was audio garbage. What a bullshit review.

the_other_scott (September 8, 2009)

"3. Your review covers very little of what the songs sound like. No one here gives a shit about dropped minor chords and appregiaos (sp). Take this shit to Guitar World."

it pains me to agree with Syd Barrett, and I love me some MikeXDude, but I totally agree with this statement.

chriskretzer (September 8, 2009)

Your awkward teen years may be over, but your apprehensive twenties are right around the corner. Enjoy.

Also, great record.

MacbethMystery (September 8, 2009)

teeeh score ;o

MacbethMystery (September 8, 2009)

I'd say this record is a small letdown. In fact, the expectations were probably too high after the suberb EP and the very good debut album. It lacks intensity at times (why not 1-2 more tracks like See The Wind or the opener of STJD?), and, when it comes to experimenting with new sound, PBC don't deliver that much (Drifting Thing is meeh..). Take Me To The Town is a pretty weak track and I consider Dead Man far better than it, thus wondering why they put the latter only on the TSOG EP and not on this album. Better yet, put both tracks on it and make it a 11 songs. The album is almost 10 minutes shorter than their previous one, which is also kinda disappointing.
Talking about things I enjoy: the aggressiveness of STW and the following two poppier tracks. A decent intro to this album. Speaking of intros, I guess that Light Of Local Eyes kicks in so damn brilliantly, it even tops Hollow Place.
Tracks 7, 8 and 9 are very strong (I love the backing vocals of One Hit Back, the complete song structure and especially the neat intro guitar on The Old Fisher Burial Ground as well as Jimmy Stadt's vocal performance on Song To Persona). Chasing Hamburg as a closer does, of course, not live up to Convinced I'm Wrong, but it still has a wonderful outro.
Suffice to say, this album will surely find its way into many people's record of the year lists, and also into mine. Still, knowing they could have done better, I'm giving this album a good 7 (it might deserve an 8, though).

defianceohioequalslove (September 8, 2009)

Also, my favorite songs off this are "Living Saints" and "Boxes", which I've been listening to for quite some time now. I think If I'd heard this cd all at once, It would have hit much harder. I don't know, it's funny how that works out...

defianceohioequalslove (September 8, 2009)

I'm still not sure how I feel abut this record. I mean, theyre one of my favorite bands, but I think I just had too high of expectations for this. I mean, theres some great fuckin songs on it, but "Drifting Thing"? Really?

I loved all the lyrics on their past material, and the majority on this, its just that at some points, it just feels really weak.

Ahhhh, I expected a masterpeice, and I got an 8.5/10. Is there anything wrong with that? Now that I think about it, not at all. Not at all.

SydBarrett420 (September 8, 2009)

Review sucks for three reasons

1. You're some dumb ass high school kid

2. Your review is pretentious

3. Your review covers very little of what the songs sound like. No one here gives a shit about dropped minor chords and appregiaos (sp). Take this shit to Guitar World.

plagues (September 8, 2009)

I will definitely say this isn't, by any means, an "instant" classic. I had to give it a few listens before soaking up all the great things about the record. "Take Me To The Town" always threw me off at first, seeming kind of out of place, and a little out of tune for some reason. Nevertheless this record is just as amazing as the others. I don't think this band can disappoint.

dlangl4 (September 8, 2009)

Score is for the reviewer.

everydayballoons (September 8, 2009)

score is for the band, album, review, and reviewer.

nocigar (September 7, 2009)

wow. supposed to be skipping many in that previous comment.

nocigar (September 7, 2009)

good review man. i really enjoy some songs, but also find myself many. i have put a fair amount of time into listening to this album but i'll still keep trying (for the songs i don't enjoy).

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