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4 Reviews
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitting Their Stride, 1 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Menos El Oso (Audio CD)
First things first - if you don't get the mood of this album by the midway point of the opening track, then alas, this ain't for you. The Game Needed Me is Minus The Bear to a tee - complicated instrumentation made to sound so beautifully simplistic that it leaves you in awe of the achievement. A repetitive guitar and bass loop bounces over a rhythm section that sounds like Amon Tobin. Imagine a more eclectic chilled out Helmet, or a drum n bass Fugazi and you're getting close. It just sounds so fresh and modern. Drilling unwinds along an evolving guitar line that grows to a rousing conclusion, whereas The Fix and The Pig War sound like Cake but less alt-country and more 31 Knots with Dan The Automator. The only deterrent may be Jake Sniders' voice - something I'm actually quite fond of - which comes across as a more laid back John McCrea. To me it's smooth and echoes the melody of each track. For some it seems lazy and more make-do-without-a-singer than intentional. Nevertheless, the promise Minus The Bear have shown on previous EPs has finally borne fruit.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Clean Delicate Beauty.., 16 Sept. 2009
By 
A. Cockburn "alexinightmare" (Chichester, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Menos El Oso (Audio CD)
I have been listening to this album for three years solid and it never ceases to thrill me with its intricacy, warmth and overall tightness as an album.

So often albums have a tendency to feel incoherent and therefore lack a cogent collective identity as a group of songs. Menos el Oso displays an attention to detail that gives the album a distinct feel throughout without becoming repetitive.

The album also offers the perfect balance between technicality and accessible melody, from the beautiful and poppy 'Pachuca Sunrise' to the delicate and muscular 'Fulfill the Dream'. I feel the unique combination of complex instrumentation and dry vocal tone the band possesses is best depicted on this album compared to the somewhat washy (in my opinion) 2002 album 'Highly Refined Pirates' and rather too epic (again, in my opinion) 2007 album 'Planet of Ice'.

As is often the case with Minus The Bear, the ocean never feels far from both the lyrics and feel of the instrumentation. As a fellow neighbour of the shoreline I cannot recommend this album enough.

If you live by the sea, have adequate access to the sun and your not an idiot than this album is for you.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a marked progression in maturity, 3 Dec. 2005
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This review is from: Menos El Oso (Audio CD)
This being their second album proper, Minus The Bear is finally being expected to have fulfilled some of the promise and potential that was claimed about them on release of their debut 2001 EP, This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic. Up ‘til now they had garnered a reputation as a rather riveting jazz-punk, prog-dance combo that comes equipped with imaginative virtue with their instruments and song titles alike. Menos El Oso should be the record to show their purpose.
The weathered Seattle quintet still manages to interlace all those classic alternative rock staples of yesteryear and beyond with dallying prog, abstract punk and instant art-rock all coming through the play. While previously the music often took a backseat to Jake Snider’s overbearing choruses, this is clearly not the case any more as his bandmates have seemingly been given a freer reign over the music, letting it advance more experimentally and with greater fluidity. There is a definite course that this music is running.
This is the sound of a band that has grown and matured. The once zany song titles are now stripped bare of all superfluous material. The content that was riddled with tales of girls, binges and purges now even delve into the art of concept writing, accounting happenings in ‘El Torrente’ that you can only hope are make-believe. The spazzy disjointedness that was so indicative of Minus The Bear’s music is generally mellower, typified by the innocuous ending of two gently tranquil love songs.
The potential and promise that was spoken of so fervently when Minus The Bear arrived is slowly being fulfilled. This album offers a different dimension to the band and in a way it offers a lot more in terms of musicianship. If nothing else, they’ve proved that there’s more to them than madcap song titles and other oddities.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Return To Form, 20 Sept. 2005
By 
This review is from: Menos El Oso (Audio CD)
This album is totally cool. Up there with Highly Refined Pirates (which should be essential). Menos El Oso isnt quite as good as that, but there are some proper ace tracks like 'Hooray' and 'The Game Needed Me'. The album does have a few tracks in the middle that aren't that great, but it picks up. And 'Pachuca Sunrise' is totally cool.
Minus the Bear's brand of relaxed dance music does seem to be at times so laid-back as to be horizontal, and this album is no different. If you liked the other albums, then this is gonna be a treat. If you've never heard of them (shame on you), imagine guitar dance music for people who like to sleep. Yeah!
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Menos El Oso
Menos El Oso by Minus the Bear (Audio CD - 2005)
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