Bearsnail is an indie-folk act bringing a raucous, raw, sing-a-long style to often painful themes: depression, death, illness and failure. While the songs are about pain, they’re also about survival, friendship, love and community—getting up, moving forward and being okay with the awkward and the painful, the parts of ourselves most people do everything we can to hide.
Many compare Bearsnail’s songs to the music The Mountain Goats, Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston and to the poems of Allen Ginsberg. Kyle Harris, who writes and sings the songs, thinks of the songs as “songs of the closet”—tunes designed to help the audience get in touch with whatever vulnerable things they’re embarrassed by, hiding from or forced to repress by family and friends. He wants Bearsnail to inspire others to write music and to face the world more honestly—willing to boldly embrace the painful and awkward.
Fall 2011 Bearsnail recorded it’s first CD, Imperfect Goodbyes and has been touring through 2012. The band played a mix of epic, Dionysian house shows, raucous bars and quiet coffee shops. The band is planning it’s yet-to-be titled second CD and preparing for future tours.
Kyle Harris played folk songs to preschoolers when he was 8. He didn’t know how to play the guitar but the toddlers didn’t care. AT 12, he taught himself guitar and started writing songs soon after. He continued until he was 31 in the privacy of various basements he lived in. On his 32 birthday, he played a few of his songs for friends around a campfire. They seemed moved and so he kept playing songs out. Spring 2011 he formed Bearsnail with cellist Stephen Hook. Soon after, Stephen moved on and bassist and singer Riley Cockrell joined the project and has brought his unique style of punk, country and jazz bass into the mix. Riley is a singer-songwriter who also performs in the country trio, Boot and Rally. Kyle makes experimental and documentary movies and edits the online magazine, The Precarious.
“The act has attracted the kind of dedicated and enthusiastic fan base that many bands would kill to have. Even before Harris released his album Imperfect Goodbyes, his audience would unironically sing along to every one of his madcap songs…Bearsnail taps into the inherent need listeners have for sincerity, which is often lacking in today’s music. There’s a surrender of ego and a courageous vulnerability about Harris that is endlessly refreshing. What’s more, he has a terrific sense of melody and song structure. At the same time, though, he makes no overt attempt to impress with his chops. Bearsnail’s music lies in the tradition of Jonathan Richman or Daniel Johnston,
yielding songs that put more emphasis on emotional inflection than complex instrumentation. He’s self-loathing yet comical, a big heart with just the slightest touch of cerebral philosophy.” Josiah Hesse, Westword
“But instead of cultivating a world-weary sound, Harris, who makes music under the name Bearsnail (due at the Meadowlark on Saturday, October 15), seems to have found a certain appreciation for the vitality of life and simple pleasures that you’ll lose sight of if you’re in too much of a hurry for the next big thing. With songs informed by folky pop, campfire sing-alongs and “acoustic punk” in the vein of Drinking Gourd and the Fainting Fansies, Harris’s debut album, Imperfect Goodbyes, is full of kids’ songs for adults. Even when they’re about life’s dark moments, Bearsnail’s tunes bear an innocent, expansive spirit.” Tom Murphy—Westword
“On first listen, Bearsnail sounds like ironic twee pop —Harris’s endearingly off-key vocals and brutish acoustic guitar suggest the unholy collision of Jonathan Richman and Billy Bragg — but a closer listen reveals disturbing depths. Harris’s preferred subject matter includes domestic abuse, failed love and a surfeit of suicides. Though his quirky vocal delivery hints at humor, there’s very little that’s funny about the pain out of which “Imperfect Goodbyes” arises.” Eryc Eyl, Hey Reverb