New Minus the Bear album adds up to awesome

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Infinity Overhead (Dangerbird)
Minus the Bear

If you are Seattle’s Minus the Bear, how do you follow up a phenomenal record like 2010’s Omni? The easy answer is, you don’t. The actual answer is Infinity Overhead, an album that really doesn’t try to follow up on anything. Instead, the latest by the always ambitious Seattle ambient rock band quickly creates its own vibe, ebbing and flowing through 10 songs that each have their own lusciousness.

Really, there’s a lot here for the band’s longtime fans: an expansion in the band’s melodies, a sideways shift to a much more understated danciness (there’s no “My Time” here) and a back-step to guitarist Dave Knudson’s fascination with harmonics and finger-tapping (Botch reunion, anyone?). 

“Toska,” with its bouncy programming and flirty little guitar licks, might be the sole track that immediately sounds like Minus the Bear. It’s welcome, but so are the departures, like the acoustic-based “Listing” and the near-dubstep backing of “Lonely Gun.” It’s clear that Jake Snider and company spend lots of time on the dance floors, but instead of soaking up the beats and regurgitating them into some dreaded dance-punk concoction, they seem to be able to pinpoint the organic matter within these sounds, the grounding elements that create real, live, breathing songs. Once Minus the Bear reignite this organic matter into songs of their own, the results are often of the head-shaking variety. How did they think of that? And why hasn’t anyone else latched onto this vibe?  

Minus the Bear are one of the only rock bands who truly are able to harness and recreate the dance sounds that continue to shape the future of all music, and this is never more evident than on Infinity Overhead. Or, you know, dude, just check out the riff in “Steel and Blood.”

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