Colins “Bear’” Regisford’s musical talents can be found dispersed throughout the Philly music community in bands such as Mannequin Pussy, Kids, Ghost Gum, and Albondigas. And with the help of local musically-inclined friends, which also included members of The Spirit of the Beehive and Gunk, what originally started as Bear’s acoustic solo project in 2004 traverses a diverse landscape of genres on his debut EP Downer, recorded under the moniker The City & I.
Available on cassette via Infinity Cat Recordings, Downer is a record that never settles into one place for too long, jumping from moment to moment at the speed of life. “Bored People” gradually dials you in: “I’ve got no time for excuses, I’ll invest in an illusion…” It lays the groundwork, projecting an intriguing introduction of shadowy, blunted haze.
“Divine Lorraine” shifts the tempo upward into rebellious slacker rock. Pat Conaboy’s fresh kick of percussion propels the song ahead, tying in the slight etchings of distorted guitar to provide a gritty texture, which is reinforced by the lead vocal and polished by the tempering back vocals. It’s a welcomed mesh of the raw and the refined. “Geordie” is encompassed by a calm, shoegazing cloud; however, what first appears clear gathers a turbulent air, sweeping one through a momentary buzzing cyclone before disintegrating into feeble animal whimpers.
Sounds from the city encircle “Tall Girls,” while a guitar-led, emotionally torn and conflicted serenade rings out subtly in the forefront. “Untitled” is a thirty-second noise jam that builds to the title-track through a warping sonic hole. “Downer” is anything but. The instant fervor of grungy instrumentation smacks the song into action, giving the record a spirited, momentous jolt. But “Are You Up” closes by transporting the album to another unique site. This one couples Eastern-sounding keys with an industrial-hammering rhythm and a late-night, burnt-as-fuck-yet-confident emcee delivery. Amid a noisy, chaotic perimeter, it spirals into a joyous exclamatory applause. And we are left wishing and hoping for a secret track, but none ever comes. - Michael Colavita