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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Artist of the Day: Minus the Bear


Don’t you just miss those days of watching B.J. and the Bear on NBC?  Watching that crazy B.J. McKay and his lively chimp, Bear, travel cross-country on their Kenworth K-100 semi truck always made me smile.  Wait.  You have no idea what I’m talking about, I bet.  Well, neither do I.  But, the guys that make up ambient, indie group Minus the Bear are a little more clued in.  After all, they named their band after an inside joke concerning the late-70s television show. 
 Minus the Bear formed in Seattle, Washington in 2001 and have released four studio albums and five EP’s since their formation.  And though the band’s fan-base probably have no clue about B.J. and the Bear, the group has made a name for themselves any way, spreading their sonic experimentation from the left-most corner of the United States right down to the Southeast. 
In 2006, the boys hit a snag when their vocals/keyboardist, Matt Bayles called it quits, deciding to focus more on record production.  Soon after, Minus the Bear welcomed a new keyboardist, Alex Rose, who previously worked as the band’s sound engineer on their 2005 album, Menos el Oso.
Since the band’s personnel change, touring and recording have been a main priority.  The guys released two albums in 2007, one remixed version of Menos el Oso as well as their fourth studio album, Planet of Ice.
An album simply titled Acoustics was released in 2008.  I found this album to be one of the band’s most shining accomplishments, with acoustic versions of old favorites like “Pachuca Sunrise” and including a brand new track titled “Guns and Ammo.”
As for the band’s presence in the Athens/Atlanta area, Minus the Bear made an appearance in 2008 at Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse, and with a new album scheduled for the beginning of 2010, the Seattle boys will be gracing the Classic City with their presence on Thursday, November 12 at the Fabulous 40 Watt Club.
Though the acoustic version is beautiful, open your sights and your sounds to the music video for the original version of “Pachuca Sunrise” and check them out when they head to Athens this fall. 

Who’s Who:  David Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass), Alex Rose (synthesizer, drum machine, vocals, electronics, saxophone), Jake Snider (lead vocals, guitar), Erin Tate (drums)
Formed:  2001 in Seattle, Wash.
Label:  Suicide Squeeze/Tigre Blanco
Latest Release:  Acoustics (2008)
On the Web:

- Jessica Cole 
Currently Listening to:  "Transmission Pt. 1" by The Lower 48
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