So I’m not exactly the most open person when it comes to revealing information about myself on the internet, but this is a fun story: I was made aware of Minus the Bear because of a person I never met who, claiming to have an “internet crush” on me, physically mailed me a birthday mixtape.
Because this incident is more than a decade old and I’m fairly removed from it, I feel comfortable talking about it. Which is to say, I don’t at all feel comfortable talking about it, but I’m going to force myself to do so anyway.
The Minus the Bear songs on said mixtape came from Highly Refined Pirates: “Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!” and “Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse” if I recall correctly. I hadn’t yet heard of the band (or, at that time, The Replacements either – “Alex Chilton” ended up being my favorite song from the compilation she had created), but I was wowed by what I heard.
MtB take a different approach to indie rock, with an emphasis placed on intricate, heavily-doctored guitar work through the liberal usage of pedals.
Menos el Oso (which literally translates to “minus the bear” in Spanish) finds the band at their stylistic crossroads. Previous releases This is What I Know About Being Gigantic and the aforementioned Highly Refined Pirates closely resemble the style of Menos el Oso: still fairly organic and raw. The follow-ups Planet of Ice, OMNI, and Infinity Overhead all sound space age and robotic in comparison.
I have an immense amount of respect for guitarists because it’s not an easy instrument to master by any stretch of the imagination. Many guitarists who lack skill will utilize effects pedals for quote-unquote “stylistic purposes” to hide the fact that they can’t play well.
Not so for Minus the Bear.
Beneath the layers of effects exists some of the most tangled, difficult guitar work this side of Tom Erak. It can be a bit much at times because of the sheer amount of sounds whirring past – but it’s a good complexity. They’re also a powerful live band worth the price of admission.
As for the adoration of my Internet friend: I’m… easy even telling this story considering I was a young and naïve teenager when it all took place. I mean, she even allowed me a subdomain and hosting space on her website (which is still active – apparently she does wedding photography in California now) for my original blog. This tale keeps getting more embarrassing for me, man.
The Internet is a strange place. I really hope I’m not the only one who has had this type of experience.
From 2005, this is Minus the Bear with “Drilling” from their self-titled release Menos el Oso –
Standout tracks: “Pachuca Sunrise” and “The Game Needed Me” and “The Fix”
Weakest tracks: Never been a fan of “This Ain’t a Surfin’ Movie” – I feel it drags.
RIYL: Experimental alt-rock, technical pop.