Friday, February 12, 2010

Minus the Bear - A Look Back In Anticipation of the New Album.

I know everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I just cannot fathom how anyone could listen to Minus the Bear and not think its great. Usually bands that can be described as 'Math Rock' are so rhythmatically and compositionally complex that it puts off people who aren't familiar with it. However, Minus the Bear is able to make sophisticated songs that sound smooth enough that they sound like they wouldn't be out of place on the top 20 charts. But I guess when you're band is comprised of musical geniuses who have refined their skills in bands like Botch, Sharks Keep Moving, and Kill Sadie it'd be a shock if they weren't borderline perfect. Every album, hell, every song stands out in its own right as a masterpiece. I can't think of any other band that I can honestly say that I like every song that they've ever recorded. In fact, they've set the bar so high for themselves that I don't get excited when these guys announce they're releasing a new album, I get anxious that it won't live up to the brilliance of the rest of their discography, which is stupid because if I've learned anything in life it's that Minus the Bear can do no wrong.

Now, onto what makes them so great. These guys evolve and reinvent their sound so much that no two albums, Eps included, sound the same, you really never know what they're going to do next. While their first 2 releases are two of the best Math Rock albums around, they're just that, Math Rock, meaning you either love it or hate it. It wasn't till the release of "They Make Beer Commercials Like This" that Minus the Bear first showed signs that they had much higher aspirations then being the best at something, they were going to create something new altogether. Whereas the first two cds had a much heavier emphasis on the clean, quick guitar in unique time signatures that is so common in math rock bands like This Town Needs Guns, "They Make Beer Commercials" is where Minus the Bear started breaking away from the pack and started to develop a sound unique to them. They Make Beer Commercials had a layer of depth not yet seen from Minus the Bear, where in previous releases they used that direct, intricate and technically difficult, but rather straightforward guitar thats typical to the genre as the backbone of their songs, MTB had begun to take steps towards transcending all genres and become their own entity entirely. Keyboards and Synths, which were originally used to accent songs, started to take a larger role, allowing for more creative composition. While this new take in song writing wouldn't fully bloom until the release of Menos el Oso in 2005, my personal favorite album from the band. At this point Minus the Bear had shattered all limitations like Genres and evolved into their own sound completely beyond what anyone else had done before them. They were able to take the main principle of Math Rock, that is, using atypical rhythms to create compositionally complex songs, and do it in such a way so that it flows smoothly and sounds natural. People who listen to nothing but Battles and Don Caballero can listen and appreciate the complexity and attention to detail in each song, and people who have never even heard of things like Math Rock and think a time signature is signing a clock (horrible joke, i'm sorry) can listen and enjoy it because it just sounds good. Honestly, how many other bands who create songs as detailed and complex as Minus the Bear can you think of that you could show to your musically illiterate friends and expect them to like? Let me know if you can think of any cause personally, I'm drawing a Blank. Anyways back to the subject. So anyways, when MTB announced they were releasing their next album, I had mixed feelings, to me, Menos El Oso was like the perfect album, I was nervous the they peaked and that Planet of Ice could never reach the standard set by Menos El Oso. The Day of release I hurried over to best buy to pick up a copy. After listening to it once, I'll never doubt Minus the Bear ever again, not only did it live up to my expectations, it showed that they these guys are never going to stand still, that they're always going to be doing something new, something that sounds completely different yet exactly like Minus the bear
should. Calling them musical geniuses is an understatement, they are lightyears ahead of everyone else, and after seeing them live twice this fall and hearing them play a handful of songs off their new album, I can safely say they have no intentions of slowing down.

No comments: