Bear vs. Shark - Right Now, You're in the Best of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know in a Hurry
Record Label: Equal Vision
Released: June 22, 2003
Bear vs. Shark were (unfortunately, I have to use the verb in the past tense) formed by Marc Paffi on vocals and keys, Derek Kiesgen, Mike Muldoon and John Gavliglio taking turns on guitar and bass, and Brandon Moss (later replaced by Ashley Horak) at the drums. They've released two albums (Right Now, You're in the Best of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know in a Hurry and Terrohawk) and a EP (1653). They broke up in the end of 2005, with Gaviglio citing the difficulties of relentless touring as prime reason.
Right Now, You're in the Best of Hands. And If Something Isn't Quite Right, Your Doctor Will Know in a Hurry is the debut of BvS on Equal Vision Records. It's a mind-blowing record, seen right from the start with "Ma Jolie." The unpredictability of the band is shown in the opening, beginning with a heavy intro, heading into a slower-paced verse and culminating with a chaotic and emotional chorus, until a majestic, calm finale leaves you speechless as Paffi whispers in the microphone: "this is a poem/ a combination of a sentence/ broken up to form a rhythm/ you are a poem/ little pieces of my senses/ broken up to form an image." "Campfire" starts on a high note with dissonant guitars, which complement each other, groovy bass, intricate drums and half-singing half-screaming vocals. "Buses/No Buses" is one of the highlights of the album, uniting heaviness and softness to create something unique and, on the top of that, allowing Paffi to take control and show you how to sing with the heart. You really believe (and may even have visions!) that his "hands are shaking and [his] eyes are shaking." "The Employee is Not Afraid" is a more laid-back, alt-rock kind of song, featuring cleaner instrumental and a beautiful chorus, showing that screaming isn't what the album is all about. At the end, however, these Michiganders turn to what they do best: cling their post-hardcore appeal with catchy classic rock gang vocals("Yo Yo") and riffs. "We We're Sad, but Now We're Rebuilding" shows this mixture throughout the song. Even though these guys scream their heart out and are definitely influenced by Hardcore, they can also bring out some mainstream momentum into their music.
"Kylie," a fan favorite, just consolidates their eclectic approach as they turn a ballad into an emotional and explosive song. You can tell that there is no whining, crying or stuff like that; it comes right out of someone that really believes and makes you believe in what he's singing. "MPS" is a quiet song with a simple riffs and Paffi just mumbling words that, even if they make little to no sense, still mean something to you, even if don't know what. "Second" is a quasi-instrumental song featuring beautiful arrangements, continuous clean, "poppy" riffs and (pick up your headphones!) a looping and beautiful keyboard during the whole song. "Don't Tell the Horses the Stable Is on Fire" (besides being one of the best song titles ever) and "Michigan" both bring out a touch of exquisiteness and mingle it with rock n' roll structure. "Bloodgiver" begins with simple drums and melodic guitar, blossoming into a heavy, yet pleasant, finale, another highlight of the album as it progress and finishes off strongly. "Broken Dog Leg" closes the album as a great example of what Bear vs. Shark is: riffs ranging from catchy to heavy, a groovy, steady, yet innovative, bass, intricate drumming, a singer with an well above average vocal range, and obscure yet meaningful lyrics.
Bear vs. Shark obviously broke up too soon, but in their four-year run, they created a new, unnamed genre that (in my opinion) no band has ever reached. Although some songs are letdowns to a degree, it's one of my favorite albums of all time. It's the kind of album you wish you'd gotten earlier, and the one you will still remember for many years after you listen to it.