Haverford – “Spirit Bear” Review & Interview

Haverford Spirit Bear
For fans of: Owen, Dousing, & State Lines

Looking for something cool, calm, and collected? Look no further, because Haverford is here, and they’re ready to relax! The chill Long Island-based rockers have just self-released their album, “Spirit Bear,” a phenomenal record full of emotion and complex melodies.

“Spirit Bear” starts off with the Iron & Wine-meets-Owen-sounding “Anxious,” a mellow track perfect for hanging out at your favorite coffee shop with your book and headphones. “Memo”, “I No Longer Am”, and “Please Just Know” are all reminiscent of truly darker times in one’s life, dealing with issues from abandonment to not fitting in.  “Seal Mountain” introduces listeners to the unmistakable midwestern-meets-emo influence on Haverford, and it works brilliantly, with frontman Connor’s voice floating dreamily over the slightly twangy guitars.  The next two tracks, “Blankets” and “This Is The Nothing We’ve Been Up To” take the album on an unfortunate turn, the production value going inexplicably down. Both tracks come off as just too simple for a bunch of truly gifted musicians, and, paired with an unusual amount of reverb, slightly brings down an album that flowed.

Not to worry – Haverford recovers well with “Nested, Sinking”. Crystal-clear vocals wax lyrical about being unsatisfied with his life, and not knowing how to turn it around. “Why do I always feel like I’ll never be complete?” he croons, “I change and shift, but can’t change this perspective.”  “Nested, Sinking” fades into “Whiskey,” where Connor speaks of escaping to somewhere he feels he belongs, before diving into “Berth I” and “Berth II”, which have a clear State Lines and Dousing Influence.  Following “Berth II” is “Flowers”, easily our personal favorite track.  “Flowers” has some of the strongest lyrical content on all of “Spirit Bear”, and follows the journey of losing the one you love. “But I can’t take care / I’ll just sit back and water the flowers wondering why you’re not still there”, Connor sings with woe, and you can do nothing but feel his beautiful pain.  Wrapping up “Spirit Bear” is “A Slow Unraveling”, a track that essentially puts music to the album’s cover. “A Slow Unraveling” does the exact opposite of it’s title, instead tying the record together perfectly.

We had a chance to speak with Haverford in our first official JamSpreader interview, where vocalist Connor opened up about the songwriting process, loving bears, and more…

How did you all get your start?

Four of us knew one another from grade school, we had some failed musical endeavors, but we loved hanging out and making music so we formed Haverford. Through playing and attending shows we met our drummer Aaron who offered to fill in on drums for us for a show and we just clicked and knew we wanted this to be our line up.

Why name the album “Spirit Bear”?

We had read about this type of bear that looked like a Polar Bear, but was found in the forest in Canada rather than the arctic, where Polar Bears are expected to be found. And we just felt a connection with that idea and felt like it represented the songs we had written. Seeming to be out of place, yet being where we belong. Also we just really love bears.

Are you trying to send any certain message with your music?

You are the person that you are, do what makes you feel good, go outside, take a trip. No matter what, do what makes you happy.

Where do you draw inspiration from for your songs?

Everywhere, really; traveling, parks, other music.

Do you have a set songwriting process?

Not really, most of the songs start with a guitar part and we get together and just play around with it on our respective instruments and if it feels right it just sort of molds itself into a song.

Who are your biggest musical influences?

We all listen to a lot of different music but we definitely take influence from bands like Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse and probably a lot more we just can’t think of when we’re actually faced with identifying influences [laughs].

What’s next for you all?

Well we are answering these questions as we head back toward Long Island from our tour with Sunning. As soon as we’re back we are going to be recording some songs we had written before we left and we already have a couple of releases planned out to start the year off including a split with a couple of bands that we are super excited about. We are just hoping to enjoy 2014 as much as we can.

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