Artist: Sunbear Album: Sunbear Label: Indiecator Records Release Date: Out Now! Website: Words by: djm I know us music journalists are meant to be omniscient, or at least to pretend we are, but I have to admit that when I was sent this album to review I knew absolutely nothing about the band. And so I assumed, wrongly as it turns out, that they had simply used the seemingly ubiquitous contemporary-indie-band-name-generator (take an animal, combine it with a noun or adjective, and voilà you have Fleet Foxes, Wolf Parade, Deerhunter, etc. etc.) Then I queued it up and after listening to a few tracks concluded that they were yet another new band in thrall to the ‘shoegaze’ scene of the late eighties and early nineties. So far, so unoriginal. Finally I turned to Google (and it took quite a bit of Googling) to discover that they were an early nineties shoegaze band – only one who never managed to make much impact beyond the confines of their home city of Dublin. (Oh, and the Sun Bear is an actual animal - the smallest member of the bear family, apparently). So let’s start again. This, Sunbear’s only album, was originally released in 1994 and has now been re-released in download-only format by Indiecator Records. In an interview on that website the band’s vocalist, Martin Kelly, cites their influences as “My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Swervedriver and Pale Saints amongst others” and while I can detect elements of all of these, it is the latter two which are most evident (‘Something To Dream Of’ in particular deftly alternates between these two modes). The best moments tend to be the quieter ones. The simple melody and lovely harmonies of ‘Flutterbye’, or the atmospheric instrumental soundscape of ‘Centre Page’. And while Sunbear is no lost classic (the production lets it down in places - I get the sense that they would have sounded much better live - and the final track ‘Slave’, which concludes with half-an-hour of traffic noise, is best avoided) it certainly deserves a wider audience than it received at the time. And with shoegaze back in fashion, and its availability at the bargain price of €3.50 (about £3), hopefully that is what it will get. I would certainly urge you to take advantage of the free download of ‘Flutterbye’ and check them out for yourself. 6½/10