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Penny Century

The Bear Quartet

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Album Review

The Bear Quartet's first album, named after a minor character in the comic book Love and Rockets, is a definitive early album in the '90s Swedish indie scene. Although the Bear Quartet would later flirt with strings and horns in their music, their early sound was a bit rougher textured, with a taste for drones and guitar effects that puts them into the U.K. shoegazer camp (the hypnotic "Bob" could have come off a Swervedriver album) but with a directness and passion that bring to mind more immediate American bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth, especially when Jari Haaplainen fires up the stomp boxes on the opening "The Juiceman" and the aptly titled "Headacher." Elsewhere, more lulling and tender songs like "Private Sue" demonstrate a facility for shading and dynamics impressive for such a young act. Anyone who thinks early Radiohead albums were in any way unique should listen to Penny Century; the Bear Quartet had it all figured out before Thom Yorke ever discovered that he was a creep.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Luleå, Sweden

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

With an innovative style of clear, sophisticated pop that originated in the small tundra town of Lulea, Sweden, The Bear Quartet's original line up of Matti Alkberg (guitar and vocals), Jari Haapalainen (guitar), Peter Nuottaniemi (bass), Johan Forsling (guitar) and Magnus Olsson (drums) officially began in 1989. But it wasn't 1992 until when label recognition took place with Stockholm's A West Side Fabrication upon the release of The Bear Quartet's first album Penny Century. Since then, the band...
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Penny Century, The Bear Quartet
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