Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Clint Burgess


Originally released late last year and still garnering praise up and down countless indie top ten lists, Highly Refined Pirates from Seattle quintet Minus the Bear is a must-listen. Along with handful of other underground bands from the West Side, Minus the Bear is largely responsible for shaping and resuscitating the Emerald City's ever-evolving music scene.


On their first full-length album, these guys scale vast instrumental peaks and slosh through dark, vaguely disturbing lyrics to bring listeners to aural ecstasy. The opening math rock-influenced guitar lines set a precedent for the remainder of the album. But don't think for a minute that this is all geek-chic and inaccessible instrumental madness. Highly Refined Pirates (Suicide Squeeze Records) shines brilliantly as it combines obscure squeaks and blips from one guitar and lush, smooth and sensible chord progressions from the other. Most of the time, it's difficult to decipher where one single element of the band ends and another begins.


Just when you think you've figured this album for one thing, it winds up turning into something else. While the style and delivery are pretty much uniform, there are surprising tempo changes and occasional intrusions of interesting synth-like sounds. And the just plain rock 'n' roll will keep even the heads of ADD-types bobbing with the beats. One of the more memorable cuts on the album, "Monkey!!!Knife!!!Fight!!!" is a standout for its driving guitars and heavy rhythms. Singer Jake Snider's vocal abandon careens through the mix with the lines, "Yeah, windows down, wine in our heads, the city lights just blur, the city lights just blur," like the seemingly out-of-control life portrayed in the song. Snider's vocals are equally strong on the entire offering and are reminiscent of another northwest great, David Bazan of Pedro the Lion.


Instrumentally, Minus the Bear attack their music with technical know-how and a penchant for non-traditional arrangements. Drummer Erin Tate holds the backbone of the band in place with perfect time, as second guitarist Dave Knudsen (formerly of Botch) compliments the tunes with stuttering accents and obscure riffing. Highly touted Northwest producer Matt Bayles lends synthesizer subtleties and swells of electronic lushness to the mix. Rolling bass lines round out the punchy arrangements, and the individual and group efforts culminate in a convincing finished product.





Publication date: 06/12/03
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Growing Pains
  • Growing Pains

    When the only constant is change itself, we'd best saddle up and make the most of it
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Access for Sale?
  • Access for Sale?

    Trail Mix: Clinton's shaky Foundation, Trump's questionable staffers
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • Why I'm With Her
  • Why I'm With Her

    Ignore the chants: Hillary Clinton has earned America's trust from her life of public service
    • Aug 25, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Gathering At The Falls Powwow

Gathering At The Falls Powwow @ Riverfront Park

Sun., Aug. 28, 12-5 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Clint Burgess

  • The Word Made Fresh

    & & by Luke Baumgarten and Clint Burgess & & & r & It's gotta be tough to do publicity for Christian rock. The evangelical idea that the secular world is the devil's domain - that it's the fiery gauntlet you have to navigate to get your eternal reward - turns
    • Sep 21, 2005
  • Summer Adventure - NW Fishing

    Fishing is a way to absorb the natural surroundings of the region we call home, to commune with the spirits of generations gone before who dropped their lines the same way we do today. Besides, it's
    • Jul 13, 2005
  • Honda Gets Tough

    As a rule, certain car companies are known for specific models and typically excel at what they do within a specific type of vehicle. For example, Dodge is known for its trucks, Toyota for its sedans, Mazda for its sports cars and so fort
    • Jul 6, 2005
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • 'Unreasonable Threat to Life and Property'

    Spokane's rental housing has problems, but landlord and tenant groups are split on a solution
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • 'End of Story'

    Condon administration aims to close the controversial Frank Straub chapter — but last week's scathing report has irrevocably changed the narrative
    • Aug 4, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


election 2016


green zone


marijuana


trail mix


Readers also liked…

  • The Rachel We Knew
  • The Rachel We Knew

    EDITOR'S NOTE: How Rachel Dolezal came to write for the Inlander
    • Jun 18, 2015
  • Sacred Mt. Spokane
  • Sacred Mt. Spokane

    Economic possibility is not a good enough reason to destroy the Spokane Tribe's holy land
    • Jan 14, 2016

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation