August 19, 2011

Minus The Bear

First Fleet Concerts presents

Minus The Bear

Cursive, Caspian

Sun, September 16, 2012

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 6:45 pm (event ends at 10:00 pm)

$20.00 - $23.00

Minus The Bear
Minus The Bear
Bristling with guitar acrobatics and infectious melodies, Minus The Bear's fifth studio full-length album, Infinity Overhead, due August 28 on Dangerbird Records, is not only a return to form in direction, instrumentation and creation but also the band's most aggressive and confident. The veteran Seattle-based fivesome reunited with former member and longtime producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Isis, Cursive) to create a guitar-laden 10-track record that is heavy both on technicality and pop songcraft and showcases the band doing what they do best – interesting, guitar-based big sounding rock. The band is giving a sneak peek into the album with a minute-long trailer on their site:

"We wanted to branch out on the last record and explore some more musical directions and work with someone we didn't know," says guitarist Dave Knudson about the band's 2010 LP, OMNI, produced by Joe Chiccarelli. "That was very educational and eye opening but at the same time we weren't in our wheel house." Drummer Erin Tate adds: "I look at it like when we started this band we were building a house with the first three records, then with OMNI we decided to go to a beach house, now on Infinity Overhead we are back working on our house." Singer/guitarist Jake Snider succinctly exclaims: "We didn't go anywhere but we're back."

While the smooth and sensual OMNI saw the band experimenting with keyboards and a new producer, Infinity Overhead sees the quintet building on their trademark sound and putting the focus back on guitars. And it's the guitars that really drive this record. Knudson and Snider color each song with layers and layers of intricate and inventive guitar textures, tones and noise. There's the usual chugging power chords, string bending, finger tapping, searing fretwork and circular riffs that the band is known for but while the album also features some of Minus The Bear's most complex guitar playing to date, including some of their gnarliest guitar tones ever as evidenced on, "Lonely Gun," it is also their most accessible, filled to the brim with big pop hooks and catchy choruses.

In order to make the record they had in mind, Minus The Bear reunited with Matt Bayles, former founding member and producer of the band's acclaimed albums Planet Of Ice and Menos El Oso, to produce. "Stepping back into the studio with Matt felt really comfortable," says Knudson. "There was no education or learning curve, he knows us so well and how we work that it was just right back into the swing of things." Bassist Cory Murchy adds: "It was like old times, but both Matt and the band have had time to work outside with other people and we were both able to bring back what we learned and apply it to the old feeling."

The band, consisting of Jake Snider (vocals, guitar), Dave Knudson (guitar), Cory Murchy (bass), Alex Rose (synths, vocals) and Erin Tate (drums), went to work on their fifth album together in their hometown Seattle. From January to April of 2012 they holed up at London Bridge Studio and Bayles' Red Room Recording to craft a sonically complex yet melodically rich mature album. Many of the tracks have a foreboding feeling and as Snider reveals the lyrics were influenced by the direction of the music. "I don't know if this is our darkest record," Snider says. "It has more contrast but it definitely has some bright points. The darks are darker and the brights are brighter."

From the opening blast of the aptly named "Steel And Blood," it is obvious it is a more aggressive LP than the band's previous efforts. A chugging, distorted guitar, rumbling bass, pounding drums and a slithering guitar line collide together like the car wreck Snider sings about: "Two become one/ cacophony of a car crash/ steel and blood/ and it's over with a silence." On "Lies And Eyes," Snider sings about deception in a relationship over stabbing, frenetic guitars and spacey synths. The dancey song quickly builds to a soaring and tense climax of piercing guitar and urgent drumming before settling back down into a bed of tremolo guitar and Snider singing "Pick up the pieces of these words shattered across the floor/ with careful hands you know these words are sharp/ and you can read the blood."

Infinity Overhead takes its title from the majestic "Diamond Lightning," which Snider describes as having "an acid trip kinda vibe" and is a memory from his high school days. As he puts it "it incorporates a lot of our breadth and what we are capable of." However, each song demonstrates the band's sonic dexterity. From the out of control tropical-esque vibe of "Toska," with its clattering drums and finger tapped guitars, to the jaunty, acoustic "Listing, to the shimmering melancholia of "Heaven Is A Ghost Town, and the poppy synth-fueled "Zeros" to the hard hitting rock of album closer "Cold Company," it might be the most varied record of the band's career.

Since forming in Seattle in 2001, Minus The Bear has worked relentlessly over the past decade to build a large and devoted following worldwide with consistent releases and a non-stop touring regimen. They have proven to be a powerful musical force that has outlasted trends, the changing musical landscape, and a volatile record industry. Their Dangerbird debut, Omni, debuted in the Billboard Top 50 and over the last 11 years they have released four albums and several EPs on varying labels such as Suicide Squeeze, Arena Rock and Polyvinyl with total sales exceeding 300,000. The band has played countless sold out venues throughout the world both large and small and toured the globe over including North America, Europe, U.K., Japan and Australia, in addition to unforgettable performances at every high profile U.S. festival like Bonnaroo, Coachella, Lollapalooza and Sasquatch!. It is no doubt testament to the band's DIY beginnings, impressive relationship with their fans and inventive music that they remain a beloved group with an unyielding fanbase that continues to grow with each album. They have done this all on their own terms and with the release of Infinity Overhead, they are at the height of their powers.
Cursive is the longtime trio of Tim Kasher (vocals, guitar), Matt Maginn (bass), and Ted Stevens (guitar, vocals), with Patrick Newbery (keys) and Cully Symington (drums). I Am Gemini (out February 21, 2012 via Saddle Creek), the band's seventh LP, is the follow-up to 2009's critically praised Mama, I'm Swollen, which caught the attention of publications including Alternative Press, Billboard, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Time Out New York, among others, and earned the band their network television debut on The Late Show with David Letterman. Cursive has released six full-length albums – including the heralded Cursive's Domestica (2000), The Ugly Organ (2003), and Happy Hollow (2006) – two EPs, a disc of rarities, and numerous singles since the band's 1995 inception.

The band is also known for their vital, magnetic live show, earning rave reviews from outlets including the Cleveland Scene's C-Note music blog ("[Tim Kasher's] effect on the crowd was chilling last night…Cursive was focused and on-spot, composed and gripping"), Nuvo Weekly ("…the five-piece slashed through a near-perfect set of songs from their last nine years of albums"), and the Orlando Sentinel's Soundboard blog ("…the band still knows how to rock on stage…[Cursive] thrashed away with an abandon that heightened the passion of Kasher's dense, emotionally charged wordplay.").

I Am Gemini is the surreal and powerful musical tale of Cassius and Pollock, twin brothers separated at birth. One good and one evil, their unexpected reunion in a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, and twin sisters conjoined at the head.

Recorded in the summer/fall of 2011 at Omaha, NE's ARC Studios and mixed at Red Room in Seattle, WA with producer Matt Bayles (Mastodon, Minus The Bear, Isis), I Am Gemini marks the first time front man Tim Kasher, holding the completed story already in mind, wrote album lyrics in a linear fashion, in order, from song 1 to song 13. The result is thirteen singularly cohesive song chapters that blend effortlessly into one unique narrative. The moody and playfully sinister I Am Gemini is Cursive's musically heaviest in years, with alternately muscular and angular guitars, pounding drums and driving bass. From the eerie introductory sounds of epic barnstormer "This House Alive" and the irresistibly catchy, insistent "The Sun and Moon", to the searing "Double Dead" and the split personality prog-pop of "Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton", to the roaring, mournful closing track "Eulogy for No Name", the album is a dynamic, mind-bending, and imaginative ride.
Caspian's third attempt at sonic hegemony is Tertia - ten tracks that swirl, that twist and curl out of and into themselves, embracing the paradox of evoking the wildly specific by exploring the elusively abstract. There is a narrative, but it is spasmodic, fleeting moments, amidst songs like "La Cerva" and "Malacoda" where the instruments come together to an inextricable point, yet they seem to be uniting to deliver this: Things are about to fall apart. And then they do. With teeth gritted tighter than previous work, "The Raven" showcases the leaden fury that weighs on the cracking atlas-spine of the album. There is something controlled about the plummet, though. It is as if the fall is really a volatile casting down of the familiar until, in "Vienna," its pieces can be quietly examined amidst the passing violence. Out of the scattered shards comes the closing "Sycamore." Beginning with the most delicate drippings of melody since their debut's "Last Rites," guitar lines weave around each other, bleeding and fading into a mosaic of polyrhythms that, for all their tribal wiliness, ceases with a single snap, soldering the instruments into something fused, smooth, new. Tertia is, at it's blood pumping core, an aural descent through darkness towards a sun-soaked radiance. There is a sweeping sense of storytelling happening here, and fans of the band will have no difficulty assigning their own highly personal meaning to the narrative that unfolds. And yet, Tertia is also simply sixty minutes of new music written by five guys, inspired by the relentless cycle of performing on the road and experiencing a world much larger than the small oceanside town they call home. An honest reaction to life experience is being attempted, and it's taking form in a gloaming full of guitar flurries, bass throbs and pulsating, steady percussion. Since forming in 2004 as a four-piece with no aspirations other than to create music they could collectively appreciate, the band have added a third guitarist, whose weighty presence makes its recording debut here. After playing their first show in their hometown of Beverly, Mass. five years ago, the band have been in a seemingly constant state of motion, bringing their sound well beyond borders they initially imagined, with a plan to add even more this fall. The rain of fists that was their debut EP, You Are The Conductor, bled into the distinctive-but-circular tone poems of their first full-length, The Four Trees. Now, Tertia. One word m
Venue Information:
Blue Moose Tap House
211 Iowa Avenue
Iowa City, IA, 52242