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Minus The Bear
Menos El Oso
Suicide Squeeze Records
www.minusthebear.com


There is something distinctively settling in listening to Minus The Bear. The beats are steady and hypnotic and the vocals are laconic as they lull you into the fold of music. Another ambiance piece, the entire record sets a mood of groove and drive that carries successfully across the whole experience.

Hard to define in terms of other bands, there are many different musical stylings used; one part rock, one part jazz-fusion, one part soul - these parts all conspire to form an interesting and intelligent amalgamation that is purely Minus The Bear. What makes this so good is the evolution that songs take individually and across the album. No two songs are similar, yet they all form a coherent message together. Changes and breaks heighten the appeal, as songs refuse to remain within a strict context of fast or slow. One may start out in an individual direction and then completely alter into another at the end in a seamless fashion that almost seems intuitive, like it was supposed to be that way all along.

The production truly works overtime to pull all the pieces into a definitive whole. Choices are nicely accomplished on a song-by-song basis. Drums are distinct and help forge the essence of each song, while the production chooses to accent live sound versus synthetic in songs like "El Torrente". Guitars, including bass, go with the flow, providing counter-productive but damned interesting lines that mesh back to a common theme in break-out parts that hit the right highs. Vocals add two special features to the whole, first their ability to greatly enlighten the songs with ambiance as they change with the song structure, most notably in "Pachuca Sunrise", and secondly, the lyrical capability of nailing the themes of the songs without over extending. The lyrics are nothing genius mind you, they are just so appropriate for the material that they appear effortless as they transition from conversational to abstract.

Overall this is a highly intelligent band with a master of production overseeing their effort to produce a solid distinctive album that works on so many levels.

-bishop

Track listing:

1) The Game Needed Me
2) Memphis & 53rd
3) Drilling
4) The Fix
5) El Torrente
6) Pachuca Sunrise
7) Michio's Death Drive
8) Hooray
9) Fulfill The Dream
10) The Pig War
11) This Ain't A Surfin' Movie


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Mike Doughty



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