The Way to Ear Park

2000: Department of Eagles begins as the dorm room project of roommates Dan Rosen and Fred Nicolaus at NYU. I am 12 years old.

2003: Department of Eagles release their debut album, The Cold Nose. I am a sophomore in high school, and my friend Brett and I stumble upon the album (which we actually know as The Whitey on The Moon UK LP) while absent-mindedly cruising mp3 blogs. The band is everything we want to be: their album consists of catchy, folky pop alongside nonsensical and unpretentious electronic experiments; their website is funny and self-mocking; and most importantly, they sound like they are consistently having fun. And so we proceed to buy a kazoo and a melodica and download a bootleg version of Reason and begin recording mindless pop experiments of our own; these, in retrospect, turn out to be rather embarrassing. Also, I sign up for their mailing list.

2004: Dan Rosen is now a member of a band from Brooklyn called Grizzly Bear, who quickly emerge at the forefront of the so-called — and more or less nonexistent — freak-folk ‘scene.’ He plays guitar and writes and sings many of their songs.

2006: Grizzly Bear release their first album as a full band, Yellow House. Brett calls to inform me that ‘that Department of Eagles guy is now in that band Grizzly Bear.’ I start listening and cannot seem to stop.

2007: Department of Eagles release a demo of one song called ‘No One Does it Like You,’ and later another called ‘Balmy Night.’ These sound little like their debut album — suddenly they are taking on a much more folky and serious sound, devoid of any electronic patter — but are both equally fantastic. I play the songs on repeat, and grow excited and nostalgic. Soon after, I attend a free show at the Whitney Museum, and find myself standing next to Dan Rossen. I wait for a lull in the Dirty Projectors‘ set (it never comes) and finally I give in, say hello, nervously introduce myself. I ask about Department of Eagles, only to be informed that that project is indefinitely over, that he is much too busy with Grizzly Bear and that Fred now has a solid day job. I die a little bit inside. I call Brett to tell him, and he does too.

2008: Much to my surprise, Department of Eagles announce their new album, In Ear Park, to be released in October on 4AD Records. The album features new recordings of both songs released last year, and is thematically very similar. Gone are the days of nonsensical dorm room experiments. It is produced by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor, who calls it the best thing he has done to date. I am excited in every way possible. Listen to the title track here. I’ll bet you $5 you’ll like it.

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  1. [...] the cover art of the forthcoming Department of Eagles album In Ear Park, which was mentioned in a previous post. Word to the wise — the album is out on October 6, through 4AD and it is breathtakingly [...]

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