Bears are from Cleveland, OH. If you see them live, they have six members, but at the band's core are Craig Ramsey and Charlie McArthur. These two friends wrote and recorded this self-titled LP between July 2005 and March 2006 at "Charlie's house." Between the two of them, they contributed drums, keys, bells, tambourine, guitar, bass, handclaps and vocals, ensuring that, if nothing else, they could at least brag about being "multi-instrumentalists." These two young men thankfully have much more to brag about with their Bears LP.

The 13-song offering is filled to the brim with indie pop magic. The subject matter might not always be the sunniest, but the songs are upbeat and cheery in their presentation and draw easy comparisons to likes of Camera Obscura or a stripped down Belle & Sebastian.

Bight acoustic guitar strumming and two part harmonies atop a bed of keys and simple percussion are a common occurrence on this album. Songs like "Walk Away," "Everywhere," "When You're Away," and "Days" are all prime examples, while "How To Live" is a synth-heavy, almost Elliott Smith-leaning affair and album closer, "Stay," is an up-tempo, kick & snare drum-heavy rocker.

In all honesty, the recordings don't sound entirely awesome. The vocals can get a little lost in the mix at times and sometimes the whole thing just sounds a little muddy. But don't take that as a dig against the band, because those are issues that can be easily corrected in a proper studio (hell, even in a really nice home studio). The important thing is that Craig and Charlie have proved themselves to be more than capable songwriters and musicians and have put Bears on the map as a band with extraordinary potential for fantastic success in this business (or at least a recording contract at a larger indie label).

"Stay" MP3