This Michigan quintet sounds like the orphaned children of several genres, mixing supple post-punk, a distortion-drenched wall of guitar riffing, and indie rock melodicism in a gumbo of dynamics and aggression. There are echoes of emo in the band's '90s alt-rock influences; some tracks stumble forward, limping with obvious pain and vulnerability, but the sound is as much Sebadoh's Lou Barlow as Promise Ring's Davey Von Bohlen.
Songs such as "Seconds" off Bear vs. Shark's 2003 debut, You're in the Best of Hands, burst out of their torpid stroll with ringing guitars reminiscent of the Wedding Present. At other times, their churning angularity conjures D.C. post-hardcore, like Railroad Jerk or Rites of Spring, before crisscrossing guitar lines hit a straightaway, cranking up the distortion as though they were channeling Hüsker Dü. It's noisy, chaotic, and exciting. Bear vs. Shark balances the different influences while keeping the songs concise and kinetic, effectively combining hardcore's thundering passion and indie rock's devotion to melody and songcraft. This is one of the country's best unsung acts.