Hearing that Minus The Bear were doing an acoustic record was not exactly a cause for much celebration for me. Don't get me wrong, I dig those guys much. I've seen them on every tour they've done and marveled at how well they melded live guitar and keys with electronics on stage. It didn't hurt that Matt Bayles was in the band for a time. His sonic alchemy has done much for the Minus The Bear. The band has persevered and is by no means scuttled by his departure, and Bayles recorded their last studio record Planet Of Ice, but his grinning mug at stage right was always a great part of MTB shows.
So if you've heard Minus The Bear, you know that you would normally get some rock dappled with electronica. Jake Snider's coolly delivered vocals are a big part of the MTB sound, as is guitarist Dave Knudson, who plays lots of finger-tap guitar and dares to experiment with clean textures where most would hide behind distortion. Minus The Bear's refreshing desire to be as organic as they can has manifested itself in an acoustic EP. Again, one would wonder if that's really a good idea. The electronics are such a big part of the band sound that one would be right to wonder if paring it down might be a little naked. That's somewhat ironic, especially given the Minus The Bear image of a bunch of space-age swingers. I'm pleased to say that Acoustics translates pretty well. I prefer the originals across the board, but Knudson is a gifted guitarist who fills out the tracks nicely. He's a little up-front in the mix, and I could do with a little less of the hard-panned acoustic on the Sunspots setting, but Knudson is definitely one of the most interesting players in the genre. There are only seven tracks, but if you're a completist, be forewarned that one of them is a new track called Guns and Ammo. It's ok.
Acoustics is available currently as a digital download here. Currently, you can get only hard copies of the cd on tour, but it's alleged to be released via MTB label Tigre Blanco in the coming months. See them at Webster Hall on the 25th if you want. Tickets for that are here.