Department of Eagles is a band formed in 2000 by friends and New York University (NYU) roommates Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear) and Fred Nicolaus. The roommates created music from collected samples, assembled into songs and recorded with pirated recording software and a microphone borrowed from their neighbor, Chris Taylor, who would later become Rossen's bandmate in Grizzly Bear, as well as Department of Eagle's producer and recording engineer.
The duo's music combines folk, electronica and other influences. Initially, Rossen and Nicolaus planned on distributing their dorm room beats-and-samples CD only among friends, but they ended up releasing some of these early tracks on two limited-edition vinyl singles on California-based independent label Isota Records. They recorded additional tracks for these singles and for their debut album with producer Jeff Saltzman, the father of a friend from NYU. Saltzman went on to produce Hot Fuss, the debut CD by The Killers.
During this period the duo went by the tongue-in-cheek name Whitey on the Moon UK. However, to avoid a dispute with a San Francisco-based band of the same name (excepting the UK), they changed their name to "Department of Eagles" before the release of their debut full-length CD. The Whitey on the Moon UK LP saw release on Isota Records in 2003. The band played their one (and only) live performance on KDVS radio on a show hosted by music director Richard Hicks, an early champion of the group. Soon after, Rossen joined Grizzly Bear. The group played early sketches of material that would end up on Grizzly Bear's album Yellow House during this performance on KDVS.
The Whitey on the Moon UK LP was released in the UK as The Cold Nose on Melodic Records in 2005. It was well-regarded by the British media, and the band began work on a new album. They have described the new material as sounding like Van Dyke Parks, Randy Newman, and Paul McCartney. This album, In Ear Park, was released by 4AD on October 7th, 2008.
Their name is a reference to artist Marcel Broodthaers' Institutional Critique.
They played "No One Does It Like You" live on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on October 1st, 2008.