By Alexander ‘Stigz’ Castiglione
The Seattle-based rockers Minus the Bear dropped their 6th release, Omni, earlier in 2010 and this fan of has mixed feelings about their 4th EP. Although this new record has an uber-funky vibe coursing through it’s veins, it seems like they took the subversive funk they had before and put it under a magnifying glass. Tracks like “My Time” and “The Thief” have almost a 70’s groove to it, complete with the poetic lyrics front-man Jake Snyder is known for. My only complaint is that some of the funkier tracks have an overpowering keyboard arrangement which gets away from the stellar guitar work, lingering vocals, and elegiac lyrics. They may have gotten a new keyboard player, but that is no reason to overpower the other elements that Minus the Bear fans love.
If you’re looking for something that sounds like their earlier releases, with that retro funk that keeps your foot tapping and mind hanging out to each sentence: you only have a few options on this album. However, they took their last release Planet of Ice, and added some serious layers to it, to rock your socks with tracks like “Secret Country,” “Hold Me Down,” and my personal favorite chilled out jam on this release “Into the Mirror.” Other parts of the album, like “Animal Backwards”, relay a nice ambient groove, perfect for a night hanging out with a glass of your favorite booze, which they really honed and mastered in their six-release career.
I’m not crazy about this record, but as a fan, I have to stick by them. Their past releases were great in my opinion, with their best work being earlier in their career with They Make Beer Commercials Like This and Highly Refined Pirates, but you could call that bias. You could call it musical elitism. Call it what you will, there is more heart and soul in their earlier stuff but maybe, just maybe, that’s the mantra all lesser-known bands must succumb to. See also: Alkaline Trio.
In closing, if you dug Planet of Ice, odds are you’ll dig this. Check it out.