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Highly Refined Pirates

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Album Review

They may call this math rock but — contrary to the attempt at pigeonholing — it rarely gets boring. Which is usually a good sign that the usual musical designations don't really apply to Minus the Bear. The only question that comes up during a casual or earnest listen to their latest release, Highly Refined Pirates, is this: where would you place these guys if you had to? Then comes the rejoinder: who cares? Filled with complex guitar fingerwork, aural synth embellishment, and spiraling arrangements that recall everything from King Crimson to More Songs About Building and Food-era Talking Heads to later work from bands like Fugazi (especially The Argument) and Juno, Highly Refined Pirates is a trip through what's great about newer indie rock that doesn't sound like it's trying to be punk without the danger. Many songs on Highly Refined Pirates float ethereally above their conventionally driving drum and guitar lines, and pack a serious lyrical punch to boot. Such as "Get Me Naked 2: Electric Boogaloo" — comedy! — which boasts one of the coolest choruses ever committed to memory ("You said, 'My life's like a bad movie'/I said, 'That's true of all of us'/You said 'I've got to wake up so f**king early'/I said 'Maybe the director's turned on us'). Or "Let's Play Guitar in a Five-Guitar Band," a dense collection of echo-heavy vocals, light arpeggiation, distant distortion, and enough hammer-ons to make Eddie Van Halen proud. But the greatest thing about this Minus the Bear album is that it doesn't let its sonic complexity go to its head. Each of Highly Refined Pirates' songs is filled with tongue-in-cheek lyrical wordplay (like that cited above) or entitled with toss-off lines from Paul Verhoeven's outer space soap opera, Starship Troopers (samples: "You Kill Bugs Good, Man" or "Damn Bugs Whacked Him, Johnny"). Al in all, Highly Refined Pirates will probably satisfy the music notation nerds, the indie cynics, and the random listener searching for something indefinite in a saturated pop landscape looking to hawk the usual boring band du jour.

Customer Reviews

One word


Don't Be Fooled By The Song Titles, It's All Serious Here...

Seriously Awesome that is! Highly Refined Pirates is argueably their best album, Much like "Planet of Ice" this album has an awesome set of opeining tracks but lives up to the awesomeness of that head start. The first three tracks, Crisco Twister is a great start and reall gets that MTB groove going, Absinthe Party is easily the album's strongest track and it is my second favorite MTB song (only to Knights) Finally Monkey!Knife!Fight! Rounds out the triumvrate of great songs. Note that many of the tracks on this album are instrumental interludes and Hey Wanna Throw Up? is a throwback to "Hey Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked" The next real song is "Get me Naked 2 Electric Boogaloo" which is an excellent track. Feeling lazy, I'm simply going to end the review here by saying: If you're new to MTB there's no better place to start than here, this album is simply amazing.

Best Minus the Bear Album!

Crisco Twister, Monkey Knife Fight, Absinthe, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO(ativan) are all monumental opening songs. If you want good music, you are in luck!


Formed: 2001 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

With catchy song titles like "Hey, Wanna Throw Up? Get Me Naked," "Monkey!!! Knife!!! Fight!!!," and "Lemurs, Man, Lemurs," it's hard not to be at least a little bit curious about this Seattle-based quintet. Featuring members of Botch, Kill Sadie, and Sharks Keep Moving, Minus the Bear emerged on Seattle's music scene in 2001 with the release of their six-song EP This Is What I Know About Being Gigantic. The band comprised guitarist Dave Knudson, vocalist/guitarist Jake Snider, drummer Erin Tate,...
Full Bio
Highly Refined Pirates, Minus the Bear
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