learning love songs

est. 2008


Minus the Bear


“Right in front of me
Splitting you from me
Where do these cliffs come from
They keep on lining up


Can you hold out your hand
just a little bit further
I can feel your finger tips
if I just reach out a bit


Save me from myself
Save us from all the rest
Don’t rest till you’ve saved enough
then you know you’ve passed the test”

 ~Surf and Turf
Minus the Bear, Lost Loves

I must never forget how good Minus the Bear records are.

Their 2014 release, the cleverly titled “Lost Loves,” totally slipped by me until someone else’s Instagram shot of “Highly Refined Pirates” made me realize I needed their groovy, funky gutiar parts and silky, sexy vocals as a Friday afternoon pick-me-up. Then I realized they had this album I never heard with these releases I haven’t discovered yet — “Lost Loves” is a collection of rarities and never-before-released cut tracks. Listening to it has solidified everything I knew I liked about this band and have for years – their bright and bold guitar parts, their intricate rhythms, and the upbeat-but-chill sound they pull off in this understated and cool-off manner.

This band reminds me of spending mornings by the beach and weekends by the coast, or late-night drives through cities in the search of debauchery, or even just its guise. A copy of 2010’s “Omni” lives in the passenger side of my car, still in its original packing, and I’ll reach for it from time to time when a drive needs to feel good. Minus the Bear is my kind of party band — guitar playing at its fashionable finest, decadent imagery, and propulsive rhythms for days.

They made a name for themselves in the height of indie emo’s popularity in the early 2000s, with the sultry hooks of “Menos el Oso,” even though they never really represented that sound, and since then their vibe has only veered even further from the “the scene,” favoring this brooding, full-bodied rock and roll.  The songs on “Lost Loves” exemplify this masterfully, as such a collection ought to — from the thumping outro of “Broken China” to the echoing organs of “Cat Calls and Ill Means,” and the brilliant fast-fingered soloing on “Invented Memory,” these phrases and fills that are all feel, all atmosphere, produced with the kind of technique that shows off swagger through restraint.

Must remember to work them back into my rotation. More days could use this.

“Throw all the clocks out
Tell time by touch
Feel it fall through your fingers as it rains down on us”

~Invented Memory
Minus the Bear, Lost Loves


Nothing makes a summer night feel sexier than Minus the Bear.

Well, almost nothing, anyway.

“Coins I could drop shake in my pocket,
They shake like you do
Steps that you take bend and they break,
They break like I do

Running out of excuses
When we know what the truth is
I’m into you
When you hear this song,
You’ll say you knew all along,
You’re into me too” 

Minus the Bear,  Omni

This record ceases to be irrelevant, it may be my favorite of theirs, despite the fact “Highly Refined Pirates” won me over first. Of course, their next tour is stopping at Water Street in Rochester, and nowhere less than 90 minutes from Harrisburg. 
Too bad. They put on a suitably sexy show.


Top ten albums of the year, according to how excited I was to listen to them, how many listens they’ve received, how groundbreaking and advancing I think they are for music right now:

1) The National – High Violet
2) The Black Keys – Brothers
3) Jimmy Eat World – Invented
4) The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang
5) Minus the Beat – Omni
6) Taylor Swift – Speak Now
7) The Weakerthans – Live at the Burton Cummings Theate
8) Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy *
9) Neon Trees – Habits
10) Beach House -Teen Dream

*I know this is the probably the most popular and overarching album on the list, and I do really enjoy it. Kanye is the trendsetter for the rest of the trendsetters, and I loveeee his work. However, taste is a factor, and I’m more likely to put on one of the higher-ranked albums than MBDTF, solely based off of mood and style factor.

But ya know, no one has to listen to me. Hats off to Lovedrug and States for the most talent-ridden EPs I’ve heard maybe ever.


The fourth full-length from Minus the Bear is as deep and sexy and awesome as I wanted it to be. Stream here. It’s bright, it’s focused, it’s real, it’s inspired….have yet to be disappointed by this band. Great song-to-song transitions, too, like the synth line in “Into the Mirror” to “Animal Backwards”…very cohesive. “Summer Angel” and “Excuses” are well-disguised pop songs….”my summer angel keeps me on the run.” I love, love, LOVE “Secret Country.”

I love this band. They were amazing live, killer set list, so tight, so on point — bassist was either sick/injured/fucked up, and he couldn’t stand, so played on a stool the whole time and still managed to sound perfect. Bad ass. They played this:

“They got a mirror full of caine in the bathroom
because nobody here knows when to stop
for now we’re just making out with the door unlocked
back in the atrium the music’s slowing down
the party’s thinning out for the late crowd
fixes her lipstick, fixes his belt
the coast is clear as he walks out

she whispers, you get what you pay for
we could cost a lot.
you get what you pay for
and we do it for the taste of a good high
we do it for the sake of a hot night”

-Into the Mirror
Minus the Bear, Omni

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