Thursday, September 16, 2010

Minus the Bear - Highly Refined Pirates (2002)

If you like catchy, guitar-based indie rock that borrows from both prog and math rock, then Minus the Bear's Highly Refined Pirates is the record for you. I'd say this is their masterpiece, it has an urgency missing from the follow-up, the more polished Menos El Oso. Maybe it's a component piece to that record, this is the happy mask next to the sad one; either way I'll take this one for overall hummability and pure enjoyment. It's still tight as all get-out, please don't misunderstand my previous assertion that urgency doesn't equal polish- it's been finely ProTooled for your listening pleasure, without jettisoning the warmth (I've always thought over-produced music felt a little cold).

Made up of former members of such bands as the seminal Botch (Dave Knudson, guitar); Kill Sadie & These Arms Are Snakes (Erin Tate, drums) and Sharks Keep Moving (Jake Snider, lead singer and guitar), the current members of Minus the Bear read like a
Pacific Northwest all-star team in the mathcore/noise/post-hardcore scene; also with Cory Murchy on bass and electronics-tweaker Alex Rose rounding the band out. Matt Bayles left the band in '06 to focus on his career as a producer; you may be familiar with some of his work: Mastodon's Remission, Leviathan & Blood Mountain; Isis' Celestial, Oceanic, Panopticon & In The Absence of Truth; Russian Circles' Station; The Sword's Warp Riders; and some engineering work for some band called Pearl Jam (oh, and Queensrÿche. Remember them?)

So here's another one of my favorite records from this past decade...

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