It’s Everywhere and Everything You Could Want.
Thursday, February 24, 2011 Leave a comment
Looking to get your groove on to some progressive indie-rock? Seattle based Minus the Bear put out another fantastic album in 2010, and of course, it was awesome enough to make my still going and still annoying best of 2010 list.
Any long time fan of Minus the Bear knows exactly what to expect with every MTB release: fresh, catchy progressive-indie rock with a feel good vibe. This is music you can drink a beer to, music you can get down to, and music appropriate for any situation regardless of who you’re listening to it with. I’ve pumped MTB for road trips, barbecues, parties, and it’s chill enough to even spin at the beach. They’ve got the catchy vocal hooks for the casual listeners, danceable beats for the club-goers, and mesmerizing guitar technique for the metal-heads to enjoy. In conclusion, MTB is a great all-around band anyone can get into. Omni, their fourth full album, is no exception.
Omni is a very different album then you’d expect, but one equally as impressive as all their other releases. It’s not as guitar-centric as Menos el Oso, and not as electronic-heavy as Planet of Ice, but manages to find a great medium. Don’t get me wrong, the guitar work of Dave Knudson is still awe-inspiring, but it’s no longer the sole star of the pack. Knudson takes a step out of the spotlight on this record to provide a more balanced effort from the rest of the group. Jake Snider, the band’s frontman/rhythm guitarist really shines on this album, and produces his best performance yet. Snider has learned how to craft the perfect (yet subtle) hook over the years, and doesn’t need to stretch his vocal range like he did on Planet of Ice to do so.
There’s just something charming about every song on Omni. Every song delivers a refreshing taste of smoothness. I feel like that’s the best word to describe this album: smooth. Tracks like “Summer Angel” are a perfect example of the blending of MTB’s equal talents. It’s a great sing-a-long track to blast with your windows down, and has got enough playful guitar licks to keep your attention. I can’t help but air-guitar to the descending riff Knudson plays during the verses, every time it’s on. “My Time” is definitely the party starter, with a great beat to dance along to, and an awesome call and response chorus that you can drunkenly duet with your friends to. Not to mention Alex Rose’s synth work on this track is incredible, constantly changing direction and bringing unique surprises to the song, including an awesome Stylophone bridge midway through the song. Don’t know what a Stylophone is? I won’t hold it against you, but go look up a video of the song, just to watch Rose use that thing; it’s so cool, and ridiculously cheap if you want to grab one yourself.
Check out the awesome video of “My Time” below:
This brings me to another point: see Minus the Bear live if you get the opportunity to. In order to properly comprehend the meticulous arrangements of instruments and electronics used in this album, you really have to check them out live. There’s so much going on in this record you probably won’t even notice until you see these guys tinkering with their weird gizmos and gadgets on stage.
“Secret Country” is another standout track for me, boasting one of the slickest guitar tones on the album. Another song that you can air-guitar to? Absolutely. Can you sing along to it at the same time? Hell yeah. One of my favorite songs on the record has got to be “Into the Mirror.” Though it lacks the immediate vocal hook of some of the other tracks, it’s opening (and returning) synth line will provide the best danceability you’ve heard while wondering if you’re playing through a level of Sonic 2 in the old Genesis days. The surprise addition of female vocalist Rachel Flotard midway through the track adds welcome dynamic to their sound. Plus the song’s about druggies and casual encounters, if you can’t relate to that, then what can you relate to?
I could take you one by one through this album, and tell you how much I thoroughly enjoy each track, but I’m hungry, and I’ve got things to see and people to do. Wait… yeah that’s right. But seriously, every song on this album is fantastic, and feels fresh every time you listen to it. Though it took me several listens to get into the album’s closer, “Fooled By the Night,” I still found its appeal even if I’m still not into the dragged out, repetitive intro. It’s a long 2 and a half minutes before the song truly kicks in, but it’s a ton of fun, and has got some crazy guitar work and beats to tap your foot along to.
So if you’re a fan of light rock, surfer-rock, indie, or even a metal head like myself, if you haven’t checked out Minus the Bear yet, you’re truly missing out. These guys are in the process of blowing up, so get into them now before you miss out on seeing them in a small club like I’ve had the pleasure of. Face-melters and club-goers alike will find something awesome about this album, so check it out. It won’t be long til it’s got your days, and it’s got your nights.
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