Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Music Review: Minus the Bear - They Make Beer Commercials Like This

hey Make Beer Commercials Like This is a remastered and enhanced version – with one song added - of a 2004 EP from this Seattle-based happy rock band, released here on Suicide Squeeze Records.

Featuring members of Botch and Sharks Keep Moving, among others, Minus The Bear is a fantastically catchy, indie-pop quintet that has always had the ability to get a listener’s attention with dance rhythms and powerful guitar work. The guitar is the basis of the band. It is neat and wildly expansive, it twists and turns, lays low and paints a beautiful unnoticed picture and then taps you on the shoulder to offer you a beer, before going back to work.

The band is more rockin version of Joan of Arc or a slightly laid back version of Radiohead.

“Hey, Is That A Ninja Up There,” the fifth of seven tracks on They Make Beer Commercials Like This is a perfect example of the grace and power of the band. The drumbeats are strong and never timid, riling things up at just the right time. The bass is a pleasant smokey scent in the background and the guitar is the great conductor – going from quiet to full force to gentle space monster and back again.

Most of the songs from Minus The Bear are this way. They are a spectacular band, and they have a great sense of humor – with song titles like “I’m Totally Not Down With Rob’s Alien” and “Houston, We Have Uh-Oh” – and tremendously fun vibe. Jake Snider’s lyrics are always half thoughtful and half fun and that is how life should be, I think.

A track from Minus the Bear never stops; it is constantly moving forward and dancing you around a gargantuan planetarium.

The only fault I can find with Minus The Bear, if it is a fault, is that all their songs are similar, similar pacing, similar lyrics, timing, and elements. They don’t spend a tremendous amount of time experimenting. They have 9 or 10 releases out now and they all follow the same formula. But, a lot of artists and bands – from The Grateful Dead to Ani Difranco – have made careers off releasing the same album over and over again, and Minus The Bear does it well. Since they formed in 2001 they have grown their fan base and they even hit late night TV – Jimmy Kimmel – in July of this year. They constantly put out quality releases and I guess that is the goal of any band.

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