Review Summary: They Make Beer Commercials Like This is about as good as an EP gets. It features fantastic songs with a great variety in style and grooves. Minus the Bear shows off how well they work as a band and not just individual musicians.
I was at jazz band practice a few weeks ago; it was the first practice of the season. We all auditioned on a part of this Woody Herman funk tune called North Beach Breakdown, so we knew our parts, but this was the first time any of us had played it together. The rehearsal went well and we clicked pretty well for a first practice, but there were still imprecisions and moments where the feel got scary. My band director started talking about “the pocket,” the place where everything lines up perfectly and the true feel of a funk groove comes out. We still have not reached the full potential of “the pocket”, although things have gotten so much better and together.
Want to hear what the pocket sounds like? Take a listen to Minus the Bear. No one utilizes a groove as well as they do, not since the funkier days of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Each member of the band has incredible skill on their instrument and they know it, playing with a confidence that allows their music to propel forward and keep a quiet intensity throughout everything they play. When they let all that intensity loose, it is nearly impossible to not start bobbing your head. Start with Fine + 2 Pts
. It kicks off with a catchy guitar and bass riff that relies heavily on accented downbeats. Everything fits in the pocket of time created mainly by the consistency of the drums. The verse shows a relaxed bassline and some quiet guitar playing that allows for a typical quiet verse loud chorus structure. Fine + 2 Pts
is one of the best grooves Minus the Bear has ever created with its danceable handclapped drum groove and excellent guitar and bass work.
Throughout this EP, Minus the Bear set up many various grooves and feels. I’m Totally Not Down with Rob’s Alien
is a laid back and drawn out track that builds throughout. Beginning with a rim click oriented drum beat, the song enters a chill setting, with a beautiful guitar melody. It still has a great amount of rhythmic complexity for its style, and it keeps the song going. The vocals are apt enough, laid back and calm. It grows throughout, eventually climaxing at a fully distorted chorus while the singer puts on an organ like effect for his voice that adds richness to the sound. Quite the opposite of I’m Totally Not Down with Rob’s Alien
, Pony Up!
is extremely uptempo and shows off some almost metal styled guitar riffing with the lead guitarist playing extremely fast and hammering a lot of his notes. It adds intensity to the song that allows it to build a little, but the song tapers off with an acoustic riff over the bassline and drum groove. Eventually, the acoustic riff takes the song and the EP out beautifully.
Minus the Bear show tons of talent on this EP, making excellent grooves that fit together perfectly. There is an integral sense of togetherness that makes the band extremely impressive. They also create technically challenging music at some points to further add to the songs. The guitar work is fantastic, the drum grooves are unique, and the bass further adds to that groove. When the band uses synthesizers, it adds a much needed instrumental melody. However, the EP has its flaws, mostly in the fuzzy production style. The synthesizers sometimes overpower everything and overall the sound is just a bit muffled. Still, They Make Beer Commercials Like This is about as good as an EP as short as this gets.
Fine + 2 Pts
Let’s Play Clowns
I’m Totally Not Down with Rob’s Alien