Minus the Bear Concert Recap for The Charleston Post & Courier

Minus The Bear Triumphs Over Tech Issues

Seattle’s Minus the Bear plays their instruments as well as any band in rock. From a skill and technique standpoint, it would be hard to find a better modern rock outfit. But it seemed for a while during Sunday’s show at the Music Farm that the instruments didn’t want to be rocked. Thankfully, the band weathered through the technical difficulties and played a set that had the crowd at a deafening roar.

The night was kicked off by The Constellations and the group’s brand of energetic, southern-fried dance rock driven by a huge fuzzy bass sound and spatters of bongo beats. The second opening act was Skysaw, a band that was much tighter than The Constellations but not nearly as much fun. While the band featured ex-Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin on the skins, the real star of the band was guitarist Anthony Pirog, whose guitar sound and style brought to mind Explosions in the Sky (only Skysaw has a singer). While both bands were solid, neither seemed to really connect with the audience and garner more than a smattering of applause.

In contrast, the crowd was all-in with their support for Minus the Bear the minute the band took the stage. The band launched into the set with precision on “Knights” and the old fan favorite “Thanks For The Killer Game Of Crisco Twister.” The crowed even gave a roaring round of applause for the recently released b-side “Broken China.” Continue reading

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Minus the Bear Feature From The Inlander

Cult of the Bear

It’s about time Minus the Bear fans get their own Deadhead-like moniker

The Grateful Dead have their Deadheads, Phish has its Phans. Jimmy Buffet has Parrot Heads. And Minus the Bear has… Berserkers? The Bear Garden? Bear Necessities?

Undetermined fan-group titling aside, Seattle’s Minus the Bear has managed to gain a fervent fan base that is not content with seeing the group play once or twice. Their shows are dotted with fans who have seen the group 10, 12 times. But the quintet isn’t like many of those other bands with such zealous habitués for several reasons — one more obvious than others: They aren’t a jam band. You don’t need to be blazed beyond belief to enjoy Minus the Bear (not that many fans don’t choose that path willingly).

And unlike the tunes of so many jam bands, Minus the Bear’s songs actually end. Bassist Cory Murchy loves how people have grabbed hold of his band and refuse to let go.

“It’s pretty cool because there’s a lot of times when a fan will come up, or whatever, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh my God, this is like our seventh time seeing you guys, thank you so much for coming out again,’” he says. “And it’s always like, ‘Thank YOU for coming out.’

“It’s definitely flattering that we have people coming out to multiple shows like that … it’s like they’ve been with us since the beginning, you know, and it’s awesome they’re sticking with us.” Continue reading

Top 50 Albums of ’00s (10-1)

Here’s a quick recap previous installments: #50-41, #40-31, #30-21, & #20-11.

Without further ado, here’s the very best of the decade…

10. With Love And Squalor – We Are Scientists

The brilliance of With Love And Squalor might seem confusing at first. Everything clashes, but it sounds like noting clashes. That is to say, none of the musical elements are similar parts; the drums tap a certain rhythm, which varies from what the bass plays, which sounds nothing like the guitar part. Yet, when all these pieces come together, the result is some of the most fun dance rock in existence. Over backdrop, frontman Keith Murray muses about the proverbial “scene” and all the troubles and hook-ups that go along with it. The album does have some moments of clarity amongst the late night antics, be it the sense of being slighted (“Inaction”) or the realization of a desperate need for companionship despite what others might think (“Lousy Reputation”). However, the album’s essence is really found in tracks like “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” and “It’s A Hit,” which are just too fun to ignore. With Love And Squalor is one scene that never grows tired.

9. Nightmare Of You – Nightmare Of You

On a list of overlooked gems from the ’00s, Nightmare of You’s self-titled debut has to rank near the top. The group delivered a blissful collection of jaunty tunes in the vain of The Smiths. There’s a certain pop sweetness that prevails throughout the album (especially on songs like “The Days Go By Oh So Slow”), but there is also nuance beneath the surface. Each song has a devilishly wry smile about it, as if its a little more cunning and devious than it want to let anyone realize at first glance. This aspect really pops out on ditties like “I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard” and “Dear Scene, I Wish I Were Deaf.” The mix of atmospheric instrumentals and sharp lyricism really do the trick. Case in point, it’s to find a better lyrically simple chorus than “My Name is Trouble”‘s “This is the last time that I’ll hold your hand, I want to kiss you on the mouth an tell you I’m your biggest fan…” It is things like that that make new biggest fans out of those that listen to Nightmare Of You.

8. Stay What You Are – Saves the Day

Laying the direct groundwork for the emo boom, Saves the Day’s Stay What You Are is just about as much as anyone could ask from an emo/pop punk album. There’s well-worded hate (“At Your Funeral”), hyperbole of the pain a relationship can cause (“See You”), and tender shyness (“Freakish”). The emotions are all allowed to shine thanks to a sundry set of catchy instrumentations. By the time Stay What You Are burns out on “Firefly,” Save the Day’s Chris Conley manages to get the heart he wears on his sleeve to find a little place inside the listener’s own ticker. Stay What You Are is aptly titled. It would be foolish to want these songs to ever change.

(Full review here.)

7. Relationship Of Command – At The Drive-In

Aggressive and otherworldly, 2000’s Relationship Of Command is like a mule kick to the jaw (which appropriately enough is frontman Cedric Bixler-Zavala’s signature moves in concert) Each song still feels like it’s way, way ahead of anything that’s currently being released, and it dropped in 2000. The band’s hardcore spirit mixes with instrumentals that manage to be simultaneously crazily cacophonic and yet smoothly grooving. As the guitars wildly cascade from track to track, Bixler-Zavala shifts his vocals from the hyper spoken word verses of “Invalid Jitter Dept.” to the aggressive yelps on “Enfilade” and “One Armed Scissor.” The bottom line is Relationship Of Command has an inherent life-force; an energy which makes it seem vital. With the At The Drive-In long since split, this station may be non-operational, but with the signals that people can still pick up anyone would be crazy to touch the dial.

6. Control – Pedro the Lion

Control is portrait of married life and accompanying adultery which makes the notion of wedded “bliss” sound like the worst thing imaginable. David Bazan takes this concept and runs with it, finding the sordid details of a relationship gone awry. The opener “Options” sets the tone, taking one of Pedro the Lion’s signature single note riffs and weaving it into a story of halfhearted love that both parties begrudgingly accept (“And I told her I loved her, and she told me she loved me. And I mostly believed her, and she mostly believed me.”) That moment of sad, solemn togetherness is quickly broken by “Rapture” and it’s unguarded words of infidelity’s physical bliss. As the husband’s cheating ways become more and more evident (“Rehearsal”), the tensions eventually escalate until the reach a tumultuous end (“Priests And Paramedics”). Even the couple’s children, and their brief period of youthful innocence, complete with blissful unawareness of the crumbing situation around them, is broached on “Indian Summer.” All of these pieces of the story are matched perfectly by each tracks instrumentals, from electronic hums to harshly plucked acoustic strings. But the thing that stands out most is not the tale itself, but the underlying question of “why” things like this happen. Is it lustful instinct? Sheer stupidity? An insatiable urge to simply escape the monotony of everyday life? And where is the supposedly loving God in all of this? Control leaves the listener with more than just intricate tunes, it leaves them with philosophical quandaries.
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Menos el Oso – Minus the Bear

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Minus the Bear is a Seattle-based rock band with a distinct sound and amazing musicianship and Menos el Oso is an album that should be in your collection.

Minus the Bear’s sound is anchored by lead guitarist David Knudson, who has one of the most unique playing styles in modern music. Knudson taps on most of his riffs, which gives them an open, sprawling feel that almost doesn’t sound like a guitar at all.

Drummer Erin Tate always seems to have time for a quick little drum fill, and Matt Bayles, the group’s electronic noise man, fills any open space. Vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider and bassist Cory Murchy are more straightforward in their approaches, which keeps the band’s sound grounded.
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