Last summer, I went to Woodstock for a weekend with a couple of friends. During the day, we drove around looking for swimming holes in a rented car. We got lost once, and ended up driving past this eerily vacant doll-house business more times than I would have liked. At night, we slept on mattress pads in a tiny, one-room guest house tucked behind a spiritual healing center. Even though the place had very few amenities, and the most fickle hot-water heater on planet earth, there was actually a pretty impressive sound system: if you opened a window, you could stand outside and perfectly hear Cat Power or Grouper or Beach House or whatever other sleepy summer songs we decided to play.
If Sleepwalker, the debut full-length from New Jersey songwriter Leslie Bear, aka Long Beard, had been released back then, we would have listened to that, too. On each song, Bear's blue voice swims around a minimalist soft-rock atmosphere. Sometimes it peeks through, and sometimes it gets all mixed up with the rainy feedback and slow guitar jangles. Today, we're premiering the whole album ahead of its October 23rd release on New Paltz indie label Team Love. Listening now, it's sort of like I'm back in Woodstock, half-high, surrounded by trees, in no rush to get anywhere or do anything.
"I never thought I would finish making this album," Bear told The FADER over email. "I wrote these songs in a span of about four years, and loosely recorded scraps of it at home. It was a dark time for me when I had pretty much no confidence, and was close to giving up on music entirely. Having a full-length album seemed like an unrealistic fantasy, and I struggled to feel comfortable enough to complete it. However, I found so much support from my friends and the community that it gave me hope as a musician, and pushed me to keep writing and finish the album. I am truly lucky to be able to finally share this with everyone."