Cowboy Indian Bear is an indie rock quartet from Lawrence, Kansas. They formed as a duo in the spring of 2008, as a side project from some other band that CJ Calhoun and Beau Bruns were in. They brought in a friend Martinez Hillard. While they were working on songs, they didn’t even have a name. According to the legend of Cowboy Indian Bear, they bribed some dude with a six-pack of beer for a band name. They settled on Cowboy Indian Bear, and released their self-titled EP in the winter of 2009. They followed that with the release of their debut album —Each Other All The Time at some point in 2010. At some point along the way, they added Caitlyn Conroy. This is the extent of what I know about them, and everything I know came from their website. Plus a little bit of help from a Nebraska-themed music blog Hear Nebraska.
It’s not clear what kind of beer they paid their friend with, and while I hope it was a local craft beer, the smart money is on Pabst.
I discovered this band because of their Daytrotter Session on December 4, 2011. I’ll take the opportunity to strongly encourage you to “subscribe” to Daytrotter immediately. Free, exclusive music. Exclusive videos and streaming “concerts”. All for less than the cost of one beer per month. After hearing that session, I immediately downloaded the album. It hasn’t been in heavy “A” rotation, but it’s been getting its share of spins around here.
Today’s song wasn’t included in that Daytrotter session, but it’s one of my favorites from the album. This is that song.
“Color Well” by Cowboy Indian Bear
I love how it starts out with some faint organ tones and drums, then some bass guitar. It’s just a hint of electronics. Even though the singer here doesn’t sound like Benjamin Hibbard, I’m sort of reminded of Death Cab. Maybe it’s the drumming style and the laid-back vibe that I get from it. Co-ed vocals at 1:09
There’s something that was driving me crazy about the drumming. I mean I love it, but I couldn’t figure out why it sounds sort of inside-out. It’s not backwards, but it sounds a little unconventional. Finally, I looked up a live performance, and here’s what it is: The drummer is playing normally. The singer, meanwhile, plays a set of toms, while Caitlyn plays ANOTHER tom, and keyboards. So it’s just a shit-ton of tom-toms. My special interest in percussion, and especially tom-toms is well-documented.
Starting at 1:59, and going all the way to the end of the song, there’s a brilliant barrage of tom-tom. Like thunder. The good kind of thunder.
For extra credit, check out this video of them playing “Color Well” in concert. Get past the sound quality issues, and you should see that it’s an even better song when played live.
Buy the album from their label here.
It looks like I missed my chance to see these kids play when they rolled through this neck of the woods in August, but I’m guessing that they’ll be back.