China Bears ‘Jolene’ (Fierce Panda Records)

As opening lines go, “Sat listening to ‘Jolene’, both crying in our underwear,” takes some beating when it comes to emotional set-ups and inevitable let downs. But then again, precious alt.rock quartet China Bears have never been ones to hide their heartfelt light under the nearest blushing bushel. ‘Jolene’ is their third thumping single release of this curiously warped year and is taken from their forthcoming second EP ‘Statue Still’, due early 2021.

Much like its lockdowned predecessors ‘I’m Not Eating Like I Used To’ and ‘Statue Still’, ‘Jolene’ is a lean, lithe indie mini-drama, as you may expect from a band lovingly compared with Death Cab For Cutie, The Walkmen, The Maccabees, Snow Patrol and The National last time around. “’Jolene’ was written about facing the difficulties of separation and the vulnerable positions we tend to put ourselves in for one another,” the band reveal. “It’s sort of making light of the pain that comes with healing, but at the same time feeling proud you were able to give your all to someone, even though it doesn’t work out sometimes.”

And so contemplative life continues with China Bears, a fourpiece who fundamentally proffer proper, honest music for proper, honest music lovers. ‘Jolene’ may not be an updating of the Dolly Parton country classique, but the Bears put their reworking skills into good use for the fierce panda Covid Version Sessions, when they marked the passing of Fountains Of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger by delivering their own take on ‘Hackensack’, for release later this year.

During the rockdown lockdown they have been keeping themselves busy elsewhere, delivering live sessions and sweet sentiments alike for the likes of Louder Than War, SXSW and the Hanwell Hootie, as well as BBC 6 Music’s Recommends Day, during which Steve Lamacq played out a vividly hushed live version of ‘I’m Not Eating Like I Used To’ recorded exclusively for the show in June.

Back in a different contemplative life China Bears kicked off 2020 with a Pandamonium headline show at Dalston Victoria as well as February tour dates with Scottish comeback boys Geneva and West Country compadres October Drift. One of the many, many casualties of the Covid 19 impact on SXSW ‘20 – they were due to play a series of official showcases as well as other key shows in Austin – China Bears were then supposed to find some solace playing a springtime tour of the UK…which then got rescheduled for September…which has now been re-rescheduled for spring 2021 like these gigs here:

‘their sound unfurls as a package of unfaltering songwriting with whispers of The National and Dry The River….Brimming with astute and sophisticated songwriting and enhanced by racing riffs and compelling percussion, it toes the line between thought-provoking and euphoric.’ – Gigwise

‘the group sounds fully in command of a big, vibrant sound that calls on its influences — just about any anthemic indie-rock band of this century — while still sounding distinct’ – NPR

‘Tapping into those bright vocals, relatable lyrics and some delicious guitars, they’re ready to fill big venues…Remember what made you love Snow Patrol so much? China Bears have that je ne sais quoi in spades – updated for 2020’ – Gigwise 

LIVE 2021








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