The Bears of Blue River – The Killer Bee Scare EP


Band: The Bears of Blue River
Album: The Killer Bee Scare EP
Release Date: September 7, 2010 (re-release)

I may have mentioned this already in my review of The Bears of Blue River at Lincoln Hall a few weeks back, but the fivesome still reminds me of Blind Pilot.

The Bears don’t nurse folk like the popular Portland, Oregon band does, though. They rattle their drums in “Crayola” and — if I have it right — toot their trumpet in “Me, Me, Me.”

They aren’t way harder than your typical folk band, but enough to warrant a “rock” credit when Bears’ genre is called into question.

I like these guys. They’ve got a sound that’s as easy as a strawberry smoothie. They’re rather frill-less, yet they pump plenty of texture into their tunes to make ’em interesting.

I think the lead track, “Crayola,” is the best of the bunch. For me, it’s about two things:

  1. Nostalgia
  2. What lies ahead

The opening line — “Remember the killer bee scare” — screams youth memory to me. Unless you’ve got some strange aversion to bees, when else did those yellow insects seem like such a big deal?

Lead vocal Gavin Wilkinson continues:

Remember lookin’ silly with long hair
Oh remember gettin’ blurry vision
Troubles with long division
Remember the long bus ride
Waitin’ for a woman to confide
Oh remember gettin’ on the wrong track
Took so long to get back

In eight lines or less, Gavin paints a picture of adolescence in a pretty amazing way. It’s the bees — being outside, running around and around — the ridic haircuts and oversized T-shirts, the bus. I know exactly what he’s referring to because I experienced it.

And then the song moves into its supposed purpose: That that phase of our lives is over, and now onto the next thing. The more important thing. The thing you do — whatever that may be — after that life of structure and convenience is over.

Bears’ advice? Don’t hesitate, but don’t rush into things either. Do as you want to, as you may be used to, and hopefully you end up somewhere you like.

“Betty Homemaker” is another good one. I just wish it were longer than three and a quarter minutes.

In it, a dude’s old lady heckles her man for being lazy and jobless. He threatens to leave town, and she finally replies back: “Just wait, my love. Just wait.” The tune’s got good movement, and even undergoes a major tempo (and sound) change once Margaret Gard starts throwin’ in her “just waits.”

Still, I can’t help but think The Bears’ could’ve milked it another two minutes or so, especially once its repetitious, “Hey Jude”-y outro gets rollin’.

Otherwise it’s a good track. I like how Gavin and Margaret play off each other, and sometimes as one. Margaret’s got a lot of material to work with, too. More so it seems than on the EP’s other four tracks.

All in all, The Killer Bee Scare is a solid debut from The Bears. It’s jazzed up folk, rock without the edge and maybe a little country (but, thankfully, no twang).


  • The Bears of Blue River, based in Chicago, is comprised of Gavin Ellis Wilkinson, Justin Allen Spring, Margaret Alexandra Gard, Brian Michael Ives Swoveland and Benjamin David Janz.
  • The Killer Bee Scare EP will be re-released digitally on September 7 through Fall Records with a “pay what you wish” option.
  • The Bears of Blue River will rock The Empty Bottle on September 9 with Teenage Rage (Chicago) and Thieving Irons (also Chicago). Tickets are $5.

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
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2 Responses to The Bears of Blue River – The Killer Bee Scare EP

  1. Pingback: The Bears of Blue River – Dames | Chicago Tunes

  2. Pingback: The best local releases of the year: 2011 | Chicago Tunes

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