Various Artists

BumbleBEAR Friends and Family, Vol. 1

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AllMusic Review by

Cast in a somewhat similar vein as the more well-known local label Kindercore, bumbleBEAR is also based in Athens, GA. Built largely out of earnest indie pop, the spectrum of bands covered by this compilation ranges from the up-tempo semi-polished pop of Dan Skinner's Sabado Domingo project to the distortion-ridden standard rock of Cleveland's the Emily Rock Group. Deviations come in the form of Fabu, an interesting semi-electronic duo featuring the uncharacteristically over-the-top vocals of singer Amy Ubelhor. Similarly, the vaguely melancholy instrumental entitled "Seven" by Mike Skinner, featuring lush guitar strumming and a muted trumpet as its focal point, also seems to be coloring outside of the label's lines. But if Fabu and Skinner breach the bumbleBEAR aesthetic, then the low-fidelity guitar pop of Dipstick & Eggnog and Boys' Star Library is closer to the label's mission statement. With its purposely muddy, four-track recorder-style mix and understated vocals, Dipstick's "An Invitational at Warner Robbins" is reminiscent of the twee revolution that swept over the city in the early and mid-'90s. Disparate and fueled more by fun than formula, the breadth of this collection once again portrays Athens as a place inclined to remain in perpetual musical motion rather than relying on the sounds of decades past.