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Tony Sly - Sad Bear

Maryland Matt   (180 reviews)

Posted: 12/26/2011 | Comments: 1 | Rate:

When No Use For A Name's frontman Tony Sly decided to take a step away from the band to work on solo material, there were many an eyebrow raised. After several releases branded under his own name (including a split with Lagwagon's Joey Cape and his first full length, 12 Song Program), most skeptics were satisfied.

Tony Sly is a surly man. His lyrics reflect a worldview of pessimism that are seemingly fueled by years of personal disappointment and shortcomings. While through the sounds of Tony's trademark vocals, the songs on Sad Bear are quite poppy on the surface... but just beneath that facade is a churning melancholy sea. Songs of questioning self-worth, faith, personal accomplishments and mortality all are put into play. Whether you can appreciate the presentation of these songs or not, you can not deny the unbridled honesty of the lyrics.

Musically, Sad Bear is a very minimalistic piece. While almost entire composed of a very strummed acoustic guitar, several songs have other instrumental accompaniment. All of which are perfect accents to this approach and Sly's vocal style. All in all, every song presented here has its own unique character and are for the most part very well written within the realm that Tony has created for himself.

While I feel that Sad Bear is a very good record, it is missing something to push it over into greatness. I am personally a huge fan of when a songwriter can step away from his band to create a true window into their soul through nothing more than brutal lyrical honesty and an acoustic guitar (prime example, Hot Water Music's Chuck Ragan), but Tony Sly ever-so-slightly misses the mark with this release.

The bottom line is that this is a wonderful record, especially for fans of his previous solo works and even No Use For A Name. However, if you can not count yourself among that group... I'm afraid this may not be as accessible to you. With that being said... I really do believe that if given a fair listen, I think everyone will find something in this record that they can hold on to and take away a positive experience. Give it a spin and decide for yourself.

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Vodka Party
17,778 Posts
Probably one of the most influential songwriters of my life.


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