Formed in 2009 as a solo vehicle for Sydney-based singer/songwriter Dave Hosking, Boy & Bear specializes in evocative and heartfelt indie folk-rock in the vein of contemporaries like Fleet Foxes, Bombay Bicycle Club, and Mumford & Sons. Rounded out by guitarist Killian Gavin, bass player Dave Symes, and brothers Tim (drums) and Jon Hart (mandolin, keyboards), the Aussie quintet inked a record deal with Island Records on the strength of its independently released first single, "Mexican Mavis." The group's debut EP, With Emperor Antarctica, dropped in early 2010, followed in 2011 by Boy & Bear's debut long-player, Moonfire, which went platinum in their native Australia. The band's sophomore outing, 2013's Harlequin Dream, would go gold.
Michael Chapman is often cited as one of the unsung heroes of the British folk music community, but that tends to shortchange the eclecticism of his approach. While the melodic sense of British folk plays a large part in Chapman's music, one can also hear much of the "American Primitive" sound pioneered by John Fahey, and like Fahey in his later years, Chapman has a strong taste for experimental sounds, and all of these elements make themselves heard on The Polar Bear, the third in a series of free-form releases Chapman has recorded for Blast First Petite. The Polar Bear ranges from the delicate and quite lovely acoustic guitar and cello piece "Flowers in the Oven," the easy interplay of the full-band number "Black Dirt on a Hot Day," and the acoustic vs. electric face-off of "Razorback Hat" to the reverb-streaked soundscapes of the title track and a lengthy jam with Thurston Moore, full of several varieties of skronk, titled "Six, Two, Thirteen."