Minus The Bear - Highly Refined Pirates (Cover Artwork)

Minus The Bear

Minus The Bear: Highly Refined PiratesHighly Refined Pirates (2003)
Suicide Squeeze Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: danperroneDan Perrone
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Minus The Bear is a band many people don't know about yet. Sad thing is, it will probably stay that way as well. Their rather unique blend of emo and synth-pop makes them an acquired taste to most - you either like it, or you don't. With Minus The Bear, there is no in-between. I, for one, fin.
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Minus The Bear is a band many people don't know about yet. Sad thing is, it will probably stay that way as well. Their rather unique blend of emo and synth-pop makes them an acquired taste to most - you either like it, or you don't. With Minus The Bear, there is no in-between. I, for one, find myself liking their debut full-length, Highly Redefined Pirates.

As stated before, Minus The Bear is a band built around the use of keyboards and synths to give their music depth, atmosphere, and a rather relaxing tone. Most of these songs are songs you probably could fall asleep to; not because they are long and boring, but rather because they are very soothing and easy on the ears. Jake Snider's vocals sound wonderful on this debut, as his airy voice floats over the music. The drums are also very noteworthy here, for drummer Erin Tate will go from full-on playing to soft drum rolls, even throwing a drum machine beat or two in there somewhere. Many of the songs are softer in nature, but a few are very upbeat and almost danceable (I shit you not). It adds for variety, and more importantly, fun. There's nothing too complex or mind-blowing on this release, but it does make for a very good and easy listen.

The first thing you will notice are the very silly and irrelevant song titles. Some of them are funny, but Minus The Bear is no Dillinger Four or Curl Up And Die. As for the songs, there are fourteen of them, five of which are instrumental "interludes", if you will, which utilize the synths to the max, almost creating a techno feel. The other nine tracks include vocals, and are very diverse. Highly Redefined Pirates starts with "Thanks For The Killer Game Of Crisco", which immediately showcases the keyboards, as this song is laced with fun keyboard beeps all over the place. Every time I listen to this song, I find myself singing the line "Our girls are looking so good..." way after this CD shuts off. This song gets especially good towards the end. "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!" is next, and it is probably the most rocking track on the CD. The highly atmospheric synth intro and the louder choruses make this song a winner. The dual keyboard/guitar part in the bridge is amazing, and makes me want to bust a move like no other song has ever done. "Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse" (what the hell?) is forgettable, but the next real track (preceded by an instrumental), "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo" is phenomenal. It's a mid-tempo song, but it has a very chill quality about it, and it makes me just want to sing along. The organ in the background of this song is great. If I had to pick a favorite song off of this CD, this would be it. "We Are Not A Football Team" is a very, very soft song, and once again, the organ mixed with the guitar sounds great on this song. After another instrumental track, "Spritz!!! Spritz!!!" wakes you up with a very upbeat guitar part and inventive bass line. "Women We Haven't Met Yet" reminds me a lot of "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!", and it is every bit as good, with really good vocals and held-out notes. "I Lost All My Money At The Cockfights" (which comes after ANOTHER interlude!) is a real weak and boring song, sorry to say. I don't like the vocal effects in this song, but the end of it is pretty good. Sandwiched in-between two more instrumentals, the final "real" song, "Let's Play Guitar In A Five Guitar Band", is an excellent song, and I love the way the line "She was something else..." is sung. The tempo changes and piano parts are welcome additions as well. I dislike how the album ends on a short instrumental, but hey, what can you do? I'll take what I got.

Like I said before, this album is not for everyone, but for those who do have a taste for this kind of music will find themselves immersed in Minus The Bear's debut CD. I know I was. Highly recommended.

Standout Tracks:

"Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!"
"Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo"
"Spritz!!! Spritz!!!"
"Let's Play Guitar In A Five Guitar Band"


People who liked this also liked:
Minus The Bear - Menos El OsoThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!A Wilhelm Scream - RuinerAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of CommandAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitAlkaline Trio - Maybe I'll Catch FireThe Get Up Kids - Something To Write Home AboutJawbreaker - Dear YouBrand New - Deja Entendu

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
InThe_Evening (October 6, 2008)

absinthe party is easily one of the top songs on the album.

sciulli (April 4, 2007)

The guys voice totally reminds me of the dude from Karate and the music is sort of an upbeat, more frenetic version of Karate. I think that might be why I'm digging these guys so much.

BlackSheepBoy (September 30, 2005)

Minus the Bear seems to be garnering lofty praise from critics coast to coast and I continue to be left speachless by how incredibly overrated this band is. Listen kiddies, take the album title seriously because on "Highly Refined Pirates," MtB takes it's listeners on a 15 track borefest where every song's lyrical subject is either about being out to sea, drinking wine, or both. I truly wanted to like this band. I gave "...Pirates," plenty of attentive listens and none of it is worth the price of admission. Very disappointing.

sirpunk42 (September 27, 2005)

I can't believe the reviewer would call "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse" a "forgettable" track. It's the second best on the album (first being Monkey!Knife!Fight!). The dreamy sequence in the intro is fantastic, and only gains appeal after it takes a dramatic pause before the verse. The chorus in this song completely overpowers all others. The lyrics are great. My second favorite line ("Two star hotel... where the stars don't mean anything") is held by "Absinthe..." (the first is on the next track after the interlude, "my life's like a bad movie... maybe the director's turned on us").

Anonymous (September 4, 2005)

I think this eratioanlly thinking idiot below me hasnt listened to it very well now has he!?!?! I think youll find if you actually listen to Minus the bear in concentration youll find that some aspects of them are better than botch, the guitar parts are more genius than Botch if your refering to Knudson, i say this being one of the biggest Botch fans ever.

MrAwesome (July 26, 2005)

minus the bear is one of the sweetest band names ever. theyre defintely a cool band but Botch was so much better it makes me laugh

Anonymous (May 30, 2005)

it isn't an "Acquired taste" if one either likes it or doesn't. an acquired taste is something almost everyone will like with repeated listens. fucking fool.

Anonymous (November 26, 2004)

Indescribable. I won't pretend that I can sum up the awesomeness here.

itssocoldinalaska (April 7, 2004)

all the minus the bear albums are great, especially when you consider some of the members are from botch.

great song titles.
great melodies.
great minus the bear.

Anonymous (March 7, 2004)

how is absinthe party forgettable? its the best song on this cd! the whole thing is great, very dreamy.

...forgettable...you gotta be kidding me.


Anonymous (July 21, 2003)

i really like the way the reviewer uses the word "synth" thats just something you dont here enough

Anonymous (July 21, 2003)

this album scores a ten, but you over use the word synth. most of the sounds are guitars.

Anonymous (July 21, 2003)

You reallllllllllly like to talk about the "synths" on this album... yet fail to mention the tempo time sig. changes, the finger tapping and really cool arpegios. Why is every one so into using the word "synth"?

FortyMinutesWest (July 20, 2003)

Ninjas would win.

funkisdead (July 20, 2003)

fuck you man, pirates could fuck the shit out of ninjas, when they're not pillaging or raping, rather. this score is for pirates.

Katie4213 (July 20, 2003)

amazing band, amazing album. if you dig minsus the bear you should check out the chicago local band dakota/dakota. they have a similar melodic guitar sound, but no lyrics. they have an amazing live show as well.

Anonymous (July 18, 2003)


there happy?

Anonymous (July 17, 2003)

Really dig this CD, but the guitar player's excessive "noodling" gets annoying really quickly.

Other than that, I've been meaning to review this CD for 2 months and I'm pissed someone finally got of their ass and beat me to it. Oh well..


Anonymous (July 17, 2003)

I'm shocked no one commented on the Pirate useage in the title.


Anonymous (July 16, 2003)

i have a burn of their EP (and i've seen them live) and i just find them to be really bland. not bad or anything, but nothing that particularly catches me ear.

REALPUNX4LIFE (July 16, 2003)

"you either like it, or you don’t. With Minus The Bear, there is no in-between." Eh. I found myself fairly indifferent to this band. They weren't bad but you won't find them on my stereo too often.

hey_sailor (July 16, 2003)

He was comparing them to Curl Up And Die based on the song titles only...not the sound.

flocktothebeat (July 16, 2003)

and please dont say they sound like the almighty braid, hey mercedes cant even sound like braid

flocktothebeat (July 16, 2003)

I dont get the curl up and die comparison, those 2 bands sound nothing like each other. i wouldnt even compare botch and curl up and die but they are at least closer. that said this cd either goes over my head or under my feet but either way i cant get into it.

Anonymous (July 16, 2003)

i love this band. the end.

Anonymous (July 16, 2003)

I was disappointed with this album. The EP was a lot better. Most of this isn't bad, just boring.

FortyMinutesWest (July 16, 2003)

Technicality alone doesn't make a band good. I like Curl Up And Die better.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

I've only got a couple of the mp3's (Crisco and Spritz!Spritz!), but I think that these guys are putting out some pretty sweet tunes. That "girls are looking so good" song reminds me of a Braid tune; I'm not sure which one though. Whoever said it down below had it right about not going wrong with a band that has members of Botch and Sharks keep moving. However, you forgot that it also contains ex-members of Killsadie, and those guys fuckin' tore it up every time.

RyanTMurphy (July 15, 2003)

I take to calling new new wave Neo-wave

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

wow, i was waiting for minus the bear to finally get on this site. and while i don't agree with everything on this review, it's a stellar album. You must see them live as soon as possible. They are a truely fucking talented band. I'll take this stuff over any pop-punk shit anyday. and how do you guys call this new-wave? that is bullshit.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

Fuckin' shit...

I did misread the title of this CD. I'm sorry, and very embarassed as well...:x

My bad.

Love, Dan.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

el vaquero, these guys aren't even in the same league as the bands you mentioned...the guitar player is the guy from Botch and he uses ALL two-hand tapping, which if you know anything about playing guitar is fucking incredible.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

Dude, your an idiot, stop whining, and you used the wrong there in your post... you wanted their.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

Dude, 15 bucks from the record label... what kinda crap is that. That is the most I've ever heard of directly from an indie label. I'll just download some stuff and go to there show and buy it. Hopefully it won't be 15 friggin bucks there...

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

I believe the term is Nu-Wave.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

mmmm.... curl up and die makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'll take Adventres Of Jet or The Faint over this band for my new wave revival, but I guess I'll check them out. Maybe.

-el vaquero

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

their song titles are just classic...
great band.

recordings (July 15, 2003)

beep boop boop bip. bleep oot oot oot. blip bleep.

pardon me while i vomit in your shoe.

sk8punx4evr (July 15, 2003)

absinthe party is the best song on the album. the tapping on this cd is great.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

JESUS, in my opinion, one should not be allowed to review an album if they do not submit the actual name of said album. It's "Highly Refined Pirates" bucko.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

i did the last comment.


Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

no one needs to mess with a band that has members from botch and sharks keep moving. these guys are so good.

travis (July 15, 2003)

im lucky to live near seattle. i see this band live once a month... well, not anymore now that theyre touring more and what not. but anyways, what a fine release.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

'Absinthe Party...' is eeeaaasily the best song on there. Forgettable indeed .....

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

i saw these guys back in march with cursive. they were alot of fun and this CD is great. It's true, it is a good CD to help you relax and get hopefully get some Z's. But, its not boring in anyway.


Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

This isn't really 80s. I've seen them twice and they're pretty good. I bought their EP, it's not bad.

Anonymous (July 15, 2003)

An aquired taste? BS... These guys just wish it was the 80s.


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