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Highly Refined Pirates (Limited Edition)
Format: VinylChange
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2006
Format: Audio CD
MINUS THE BEAR - Highly Refined Pirates

-

Like many, my introduction to this band was because I heard this guitarist Dave Knudson's new band. (Dave was formerly in a little ol' hardcore band called: Botch)

My initial reaction was shock... Wait! Stop the Presses! This isn't Heavy!

Then I got a grip on myself and actually listened to the CD.... AMAZING!!!

-Honestly if radio stations played music like this I would actually appreciate Pop-Music.

Minus the Bear is filled with amazingly catchy, and skillful, guitar riffs, funktastic bass lines, complex drumming, nice elemental prog-inspired keyboards and a great singer who is also is an amazing lyricist. (See, Get Me Naked: Part II)

They have oodles of talent and are beyond catchy... I ponder my brain everyday wondering why bands like this and Porcupine Tree aren't at the forefront of Mainstream music... and then I remember... Sometimes it is better we keep these gems to real music fans and not companies that will just exploit and ruin them.

Favorite Songs: Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo, Thanks For The Killer Game Of Crisco Twister, and Women We Haven't Met Yet

-4.5 Stars

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Yowza this band is good...I saw them with Cursive and they managed to steal the show...no small feat. So anyways...onto the CD. Supercool angular, two hand tapped (but not in metalcore gross style), clean melodic riffing complemented by incredible incredible drum and bass work (sounds heavily influenced by electronica music of all things) with cool lyrics sung by a cooler voice. And a guy that makes ambient noise effects/produces the records. There is no weak point to this band that i can think of. Recommended to fans of indie, pop, hardcore...anything really. Listen to this CD in your car with the windows down!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2003
Format: Audio CD
I was introduced to minus the bear not to long ago by a friend. So then I downloaded "Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse." I thought it was a very good song so then I just bought the CD and listened to it. I was very impressed with what kind of music they brought to the table. All their songs are full of interesting guitar riffs and just all together incredible songs. Blending the emo with the space rock to create some happy tunes for the listener. I've been in the music scene for a long time, but I never gave MTB a chance because I thought it wouldn't be very good music just like some of those new bands comming out these days. I was siked I purchased this album, but I dont think it will be leaving my CD player any time soon.
If you are into bands such as sunny day real estate, codeseven, or The Mars Volta, definantly check out Minus the Bear. They are a band you dont want to over look.
A few songs to check out if you are interested:
"Thanks for the killer game of crisco twister", "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!", Absinthe Party at the Fly Honey Warehouse", "Women we haven met yet".
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 16, 2009
Format: Audio CD
and it's only gotten better.

happy to say this album has been a part of my life since then.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2003
Format: Audio CD
every once in a while, i hear a band that changes my outlook on music. these guys are one of those bands. they make me feel like music can be something more than it seems. the only band i can think to compare them to at all is braid in their later years, but with crazy tap solos. no, not metal tap solos. imagine if you took a crazy metallica solo and kept the guitars clean and played the tap solo at half-speed during the entire song as melodic accompaniement. it's completely nuts. they sound like a disco-influenced indie rock band. i've not heard anyone that really sounds like them.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2003
Format: Audio CD
Wow; to say that I was totally impressed with this album would be an understatement. Guitars, samples, and vocals all both stimulating and soothing all at once; definitely one of those that you find yourself listening to straight through. Perfect for taking a drive (especially at night) or coming home and falling asleep to (which is a compliment, not an insult). Good mood music. Buy it, it's fun!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This is probably MTB's best CD...even if you are not typically into this genre I highly recommend having a listen. It's great background music; upbeat but not too demanding. I especially recommend this as a first-time album if you have heard of Minus the Bear and are looking to give them a go...MTB definitely has their own style and the best of it comes out in Highly Refined Pirates.
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on April 3, 2013
Format: Audio CD
While it's hard to look back on the past decade and find a lot of music one could define as ground-breaking and inspiring, one could always point to Seattle's chronically and criminally under-rated Minus The Bear as a beacon of hope. While never quite breaking through into the mainstream, the group has toiled away producing a wealth of material that is every bit as tuneful as it is unique. Nowhere is this truer than on the band's mind-blowing debut, 2002's "Highly Refined Pirates."

You wouldn't know the album is ten years old to listen to it. Perhaps part of that is due to the fact that the world has yet to really discover Minus The Bear and therefore, there hasn't been a wave of copycats in their wake. The pros and cons of the band's relative obscurity means that as of this writing, the band's style and unique approach to music remains fresh and pure with each and every listen. Even for the uninitiated listener, "Highly Refined Pirates" is an instant hit. Don't be fooled by the silly song-titles (some of which are inspired by Paul Verhoeven's sci-fi cult-classic "Starship Troopers"), as the songs don't reflect the goofiness of "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo" or "Thanks For The Killer Game Of Crisco Twister."

The overall sound of "Highly Refined Pirates" could be described as nothing short of groovy. From the two-handed tapping of guitarist David Knudson to the atmospheric flourishes of producer/keyboardist Matt Bayles, Minus The Bear's sound remains unclassifiable and yet toe-tappingly catchy and refreshing. Vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider alternates between crooning bittersweetly on the aforementioned "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo" and "Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse" (the latter of which remains a definitive song for the band) and shouting his lungs out on surf-rock inspired anthems such as "Women We Haven't Met Yet." Whether he is singing about the pursuit of wealthy women or getting drunk in cheap hotels, you can be sure you'll find yourself singing along with Snider in no time.

With so much indie rock bleeding into the mainstream, it's a wonder Minus The Bear never caught on. Perhaps the world wasn't ready for something called "Highly Refined Pirates" in 2002, but sure enough, it has stood the test of time and is every bit as enjoyable today as it ever was. Music this fun, funky and fresh rarely comes by and if you don't yet own a Minus The Bear album, you'd do well to get started with this one. Whether you love pop or metal, you're bound to yell "Yar!" for Minus The Bear, currently rock's best kept secret.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Seriously. Its been so long since I've just listened to a CD in its entirety without interruption and have a smile from ear to ear. I picked this up on a whim when hearing the Seattle group Sharks Keep Moving was on a hiatus and current members were doing this band full time. This was also publicized as one of the three major ex-Botch bands (one of the others being the critically acclaimed rock outfit These Arms Are Snakes, who seem to be catching a lot of hype as well). So naturally I was intrigued by this, and knew I would at least enjoy it somewhat.
Boy was I way off. It was such a wonderful feeling to be caught so off guard, in a positive way for a change! This album is magnificent! Those who've read up on this already have probably already heard the tired and annoying "emo meets prog rock" moniker, which actually are two genres I hate classifying bands under. To me, they just don't seem like proper descriptions...for anything. On that note, its truly hard to pin a specific sound for Minus The Bear. They possess a more upbeat and poppy effect to the orchestral guitar work that was in Sharks Keep Moving, and in certain areas kind of remind me of the brilliant Chicago indie rock stylings of Cap'n Jazz and American Football, only much different. The addition of keyboards definitely adds a slight taste of progressive rock, and the songs as a whole definitely give off the indie/"emo" vibe, but I still wouldn't throw those comparisons around too much, despite them being the only way you could probably describe them to moronic kids that think bands like the Juliana Theory are doing something productive. Annnnnyway, the technical mathy guitar work here is definitely reminiscent of the genius that was Botch, only without the gut wrenching distortion and chaos Botch served up. The lyrics and presentation are also just as witty and sharp as Botch and SKM ever were, possibly with potential to surpass both groups, and hopefully catch the eyes and ears of some mainstream critics and listeners. As a whole, I can honestly admit that Minus the Bear have a sound they can call their own. This is the kind of music that those assclowns in that awful band Coheed and Cambria are trying to do, but just seem to constantly hit a brick wall. If you're looking for something fresh, well-orchestrated, and done right by an all-star cast, look no further than Minus the Bear. By far one of the best new bands of the last few years! Make sure you pick up the EP "This is What I Know About Being Gigantic" as well. Its just as good. Also make sure to check out MTB live when they come around, you will be blown away!
For fans of (but not limited to): American Football, Cap'n Jazz, Owls, Sharks Keep Moving, Botch
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on January 22, 2003
Format: Audio CD
If you liked minus the bears previous two 'this is what I know about being gigantic' this wont dissapoint you. The first track hits you straight away rhythmical, catchy and melodic with their trademark mathy guitar sound, courtesy of previous botch guitarist. If its possible the guitar playing has become even more technical and dense, and whilst its seriously impressive it sometimes distracts from the vocal melodies, but this is a minor criticism. The album plays beautifully from begininng to end, ranging from slower laid back songs, such as 'we are not a football team', to more driven rock songs with soaring refrains, and catchy riffs, interspersed with ambient electronic beats and sounds.
I was eagerly anticipating this album and it hasn't dissapointed. Despite some other reviews Ive read which see minus the bear as derivative and a rehash of other bands I think they have really carved out their own niche... the hilarious song titles, the plaintive simplistic lyrics, and their intense musicality. Also if you loved 'good health' by pretty girls make graves this album really compliments it, catchy, precise, with touches of electronc samples and beats.
Buy this album, if only for the guitar playing its amazing!
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