Two reviews for this critically acclaimed masterwork.
First, a Review from Brainwashed:
"Unlike every academic sound gathering world traveler, compass has woven a fun and diverse pop/post-pop album instead of some boring bit of stuffy nonsense. Munchy the Bear is one of the most fresh and original debut albums I've ever heard.
For an album that has been years in the making, Munchy the Bear wastes no time launching with three glorious songs. The happy singalong tune of "Never Live Forever" is something which could easily make any Caribou/Manitoba fan wet: it's infectious, has a moderate amount of unconventional sampling, and is heavy on the drums. Dave Doom flexes his multi-instrumental talented muscles with dulcimer playing on "All the Experiences," a somewhat tribute to George Harrison, while groovy breakbeat drums and cut up melodies come in on the instrumental "Stick Pots and the Bloody Beats," providing pulse to a fantastic echoing guitar riff.
One of the neat things about this record is in such a tiny digipack inlet, Doom has managed to give props to the people and places and thoughts that shaped ach song on the record, providing a backstory to the dense audio tapestry. He's not just giving a tracklist of somewhat obscure song titles of inside jokes.
The next few tunes remind me of the definition of "chimp rock": rock music categorically void of aspirations of pop stardom; but it hardly sounds like anything Sebadoh or The Shaggs would dream up. Doom detunes guitars, samples kids songs, and sings distorted through megaphones, but he keeps things consistently on the beat, matching them with peppy drums and happy melodies, bringing in friends to sing, play, and play. Identified instruments include bajo, piano, organs, harp, bongos, and even vocals sung into cell phone voice mail. An array of friends has even been captured in the cover, which, at first seems pretty harmless but a closer look at weapons in peoples' hands like an axe, machetes, and a shovel suggest a cast of a teenage summer camp horror flick.
Mellower moments come towards the end of the recording, interspersed with a few transitionary type bits under 60 seconds. "Beauty and Addiction" is a subdued song with subtle drums, melodica sounds, and somewhat odd samples of old films talking about nuclear war, "A Cult Following" features a chorus of people and a snappy sax, and the 10+ minute closer "Never Want to Leave" is like a roadside lullaby, as the waves recorded sound dangerously close to traffic.
With such a strong record like this finally surfacing after five years from its inception, it leads me to wonder how on earth Dave Doom will pull off anything else in the foreseeable future, but thankfully something like this is one of those records that has the potential to catch on big, give it time."
And now, from Tiny Mix Tapes:
"STYLES: psychedelic, indie pop, experimental rock, laptop folk
OTHERS: Eels, Beck, Cornelius, Gorillaz
Munchy the Bear, the debut full-length from Compass, is not only a concept album, but an ambitious one at that. The album opens with a countdown to nuclear apocalypse, replete with the sonic approximation of an atomic blast, and closes with the sound of waves lapping against the beach. Sandwiched between these delimiters are 15 impassioned tracks, instrumental and otherwise, which serve to remind us how close we are, culturally and ideologically, to the halcyon days of Cold War paranoia and the threat of nuclear catastrophe.
Compass, a.k.a. Dave Doom, like his spiritual predecessors Beck and Eels' Mark Everett (or "E," as he is known to his friends), have the uncanny ability to make music of an unspeakably grim nature somehow palatable, if not downright enjoyable. For instance, depending on how you looked at it, Eels' 1998 masterpiece Electro-Shock Blues was either a morbid, sonic thanatopsis, or the apotheosis of a finely-honed pop sensibility. Similarly, Munchy the Bear, though cynically obsessed with the ever-present threat of impending doom, is nonetheless filled with pleasantly upbeat pop tunes that could have been produced by The Automator or The Dust Brothers.
The record's nihilistic tone is set when the opening lyrics begin, "Baby you know it's not like that/ You'll never live forever it's not like that." Elsewhere on the record, samples of 1950s civil defense spots (the hilarious "Burt the Turtle") and a snippet of nonsensical dialogue, in the form an egregious non sequitur from none other than Ronald Reagan, help to heighten Munchy the Bear's atmosphere of teetering-on-the-brink menace. Using this myopic mindset as an analogy for today's irrational, paranoiac culture of fear, Compass seem to be simultaneously celebrating life and decrying the negativity embedded into our collective social consciousness. Remember when crawling under your desk at school was supposed to protect you from a full-on nuclear assault? Or, 30 years later, when "The Day After" was actually considered to be within the realm of possibility?
Though Munchy the Bear is distinctly contemporary in its structure and production style, the record seems to have taken cues from several of the monolithic greats of 1960s psychedelia (echoes of Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper's, anyone?). But despite his neo-hippie affectations and retro leanings, Dave Doom is an information-age troubadour cut in a conspicuously postmodern mold.
Another noteworthy characteristic of Munchy the Bear is the fact that, despite having been recorded over a number of years, at a wide variety of locations, with an ever-rotating cast of supporting musicians, the record has a remarkable cohesion. It's a rich and sprawling recording filled with lush textures and instrumentation. Besides growing on the listener immeasurably, Munchy the Bear will have her wondering what a little more focus and tighter songwriting will bring to the table in the form of future Compass releases."