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Shortest Day of the Year (



To make his résumé any more diverse, Craig Ramsey would have to take up mixed martial-arts combat. He drummed with metalcore legends Ascension, kept a swing beat for roots-rockers Ace & the Ragers, and plays Pixies-styled power-pop with Kiddo -- none of which suggests that he's capable of creating anything like the Bears' sophomore EP, Shortest Day of the Year.

On record, the group is the multitasking duo of Ramsey and Charlie McArthur (former guitarist for Ache:Emelie). Harmonizing and co-writing, the two brew unplugged indie-pop full of gentle acoustic guitar ("Reason to Cry"), gorgeous piano melodies ("Losing My Love" and "My Pain"), and electric Americana ("You Can Tell"). Like Ramsey's metal-crossover material, the songs are brief blasts -- most closer to two minutes than three. And while they're delicate, they hit hard.

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