For the past seven years, Seattle’s Minus the Bear have orbited the music world like a distant meteor, fine-tuning their unique brand of indie rock and discovering how technology can help enhance the band’s unique pop vision – all of which culminated with the full-length Planet of Ice , an album showing the band not so much transforming their sound as transcending it. In September, 2008, the band added the latest entry in their saga. Their EP Acoustics sees them taking a step back from electronics and electricity as they reworked fan favorites from past albums into compelling acoustic compositions. The EP, which will be available nationally at digital outlets such as emusic and iTunes (and in physical form exclusively on the road) includes a previously unreleased track as well in “Guns & Ammo”.
Formed in Seattle, Washington in 2001, Minus the Bear was initially composed of guitarist David Knudson, bassist Cory Murchy, and drummer Erin Tate who eventually recruited keyboardist/sequencer, Matt Bayles and vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider. Once in the same room they realized they were on to something special – and the band quickly earned a rabid and rapidly growing fan base ranging from teenagers to middle-aged parents. “I know every band says they can’t explain their music, but I really can’t say that we sound like one specific thing,” Murchy explains. “We don’t follow a particular scene or genre and hopefully that shows.”
Acoustics revisits their prolific career with interpretations of songs plucked from their past exploits, including Planet of Ice – which saw the introduction of keyboardist Alex Rose. It was in secret that the band entered the new Redroom studio in Seattle to bang on some acoustic guitars, tambourines, swizzle stix, snare drums, organ pipes, and vocal chords. The final product should please the old guard and new fans alike.
With Planet of Ice, the band allowed negative space and an airy openness to permeate their music; from the distinctively danceable opener “Burying Luck” to the syncopated sample-driven “Knights” to the album’s epic 9 minute closer “Lotus,” which evokes acts like Yes and Pink Floyd, minus the self-indulgent tendencies. Although all the musicians in Minus the Bear are technically talented – as anyone who’s seen Knudson’s unique approach to the guitar which features two-handed tapping and live looping already knows – Planet of Ice showed the band focusing on songwriting instead of showiness. With Acoustics they had an opportunity to fully demonstrate their restraint as they stripped down songs to their core appeal, and revealed the attractive fundamentals that form the bedrock behind the original recordings.
In true Minus the Bear fashion, the band are taking their acoustic interpretations on the road, where they’ll perform songs from Acoustics as well as exclusively sell physical copies of the EP, otherwise available digitally at major online digital outlets. Upon wrapping up their tour prior to the holiday season, the band will take a short break before heading into the studio to begin recording their next full-length.