LA Weekly July 30 - Aug 5, 1999
Why Something Instead of Nothing?
(Polar Bear Records)

Several years into their partnership, former Jane's Addiction bassist Eric Avery and veteran drummer Biff Sanders have created an incredibly deep, dark and smoky album that defines a new step in the world of funk-rock. Two guitarists, Dani Tull and Andy Troy, support the rhythms, along with a squadron of scratchy samples.

The opening song, "Lick," slams as hard as "Mountain Song" from Jane's Nothing's Shocking. It alternates sprightly bass and jangly guitars under Avery's just-shy-of-mumbling voice with hard instrumental crashing power chords and heavier, driving bass. Avery delivers his vocals serenely, his wonderfully visual yet open-ended lyrics recalling the poetry of Lorca; "Sharkeye" examines unknown relationships through "one big black shark eye looking down from the sky." Barely intelligible samples lead into a paced-down, low-tech groove, creating a sense of calm just prior to a summer storm at the beach. The goopy organ that serves as the underbelly of "Farm" supports a pack of lo-fi samples exquisitely stitched among raucous guitars, a ponderous bass line and crashing drums. Unexpected layers, sounds and sparkles reward repeated listens.

Polarbear originally released the Chewing Gum EP on their own, hoping to spur fan and label interest. Fan interest they found; a satisfying record deal they did not. Undaunted, they wrote new songs, refined their amazing live show and self-released Why Something, their debut full-length. While the CD's limited availability at, local independent stores and at their shows will make this album a bit of a Where's Waldo?, it's a stellar prize for the quest. (Simon Rust Lamb)

see also..
Raptorial Media Polar Bear reviews