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"It's just about inarguable: The See are the kings of Little Rock's current landscape of bands, spreading their infectious indie-rock fight songs to anyone who can holler along. If any local outfit deserves its own own Guitar Hero song-pack, it's them." -The Arkansas Times
Fitting into no immediately recognizable category, and perhaps as much in step with their New York and L.A. counterparts as with their Little Rock brethren, the See create cathartic pop rock anthems with sing-along choruses that don't let you go. The See's first full length album, Pretending and Ending, will be released March 24, 2012 on the band's own label.
Calling to mind bands as disparate as Joy Division, Sunny Day Real Estate, and Built to Spill, with obvious referencing to hallowed Little Rock heroes Ho-hum, the See have been carving out their own space on Little Rock’s music scene since 2008 when childhood friends Joe Yoder and Dylan Yelenich formed the band. St. Louis transplant Tyler Nance joined later that year when he overheard Yelenich and Yoder discussing over a beer their need for a drummer on Nance’s first day in town.
The See began gigging steadily around Little Rock and released the Bars of Gold EP in 2009, which The Arkansas Times called “a sturdy, infectious brand of indie rock that recalls power trios of yore”and made mention of Yoder’s “big, earnest vocals that help give everything an epic, anthemic quality.” After some debate about whether a second guitarist would help or mar the sonic mix, Eric Morris joined in 2009. Joe Yoder recounts, “it was right from the start.” The circle was complete.
With Morris on board The See continued playing live, solidifying their reputation as one of Little Rock’s best live bands. Little Rock music lovers flocked to take in the unpretentious, relentless displays of energy and brotherhood that comprised each See show. Embellishing the standard formula of drums, bass, guitars and vocals with keys and on-stage audio loops, The See led crowd after crowd through exuberant choruses while playing with bands such as Titus Andronicus, Frightened Rabbit, Cursive, and The American Princes.
In Fall of 2011 the band went to work capturing the sound of their live sets on disc recording the 15 tracks that would become Pretending and Ending at Foxtrot Studios in Shreveport, LA and Sellout Music in Little Rock with Producer Jason Weinheimer (Boondogs, Loveghost, Isaac Alexander). Eric Morris explains, “We're a strong live band, so we figured we should embrace that, right? Capture it on record.” And the See has done just that - but in doing so, they have also matured from a loud and enthusiastic garage band to authors of what will surely be one of the finest releases to come out of Little Rock in 2012.
The self-released Pretending and Ending marks a shift for the band, in which Little Rock’s favorite party band shows it’s heart, brain and muscle all at the same time. Put together like a classic See live set, Pretending and Ending works on you in all the same ways as the live personality the band has taken on- it grabs you at the get-go, holds on tight, eases up just enough for everyone to catch their breath, and leads upwards to what could be the centerpiece of the album, Lenny, in which Joe Yoder howls “I’m gonna love you til it makes you kill me” against a backdrop of angular guitars, agile bass, and rapid-fire fills.
The songs on Pretending and Ending come together in a feat of near-perfect sequencing to reveal a band that thinks about its music as much as it feels it. The almost cinematic sequencing of the record is no accident - Dylan Yelenich reports the band had a handful of songs they knew they wanted to form the backbone of Pretending and Ending and then wrote the remainder of the songs specifically for the record. From the whimsical punk rock fable “Storytelling” that comes on like a highly caffeinated Arcade Fire, to the campfire sing-along of “Head Like A Stone” and the arena rock of “Hey” which would fit seamlessly into a Kings Of Leon set, the album draws you through its well constructed halls, even pulling up the curtains on the band’s Arkansas backwoods roots in “Old Souls” with its haunting chants and hints of banjo.
Keeping one foot in the Little Rock tradition of solid rock and roll while effortlessly reaching for an accessibility of sound that does not come easy to many local bands, Pretending and Ending continues to shed its skin at each turn. One spin through the beautifully crafted disc and it’s clear that The See has found its voice. Dylan Yelenich recounts, “Eric was playing with us but in a way we still had not found our sound - once we had finished writing this record, we became The See.”
The See will be touring regionally and nationally throughout 2012 to bring Pretending and Ending far from home, no doubt receiving a homecoming on each return fit for “the kings” (Arkansas Times) of Little Rock.