Minus The Bear

Minus The Bear

The Coathangers

Tue, April 24, 2018

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:00 pm

Royale Nightclub

Boston, MA

$28 advance / $30 day of show

This event is 18 and over

Royale is general admission standing room only. Tickets available at AXS.COM, or by phone at 855-482-2090. No service charge on tickets purchased in person at The Sinclair Box Office (Cambridge, MA) Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-7PM.

Minus The Bear
Minus The Bear
Over the course of their 15-year career, Minus the Bear have carved out their own unique musical world. This isn’t to say they’re impervious to outside influence. They’ve borrowed components from a wide swath of genres—the brainy clangor of New York’s proto-punk scene, the cerebral buzz of IDM, the poptimist evaluation of hip-hop and R&B, and the grandiose visions of prog rock—but always managed to defy classification. Throughout the first decade of their existence, every new album offered a new musical approach, as seen in the idiosyncratic fretboard gymnastics of Highly Refined Pirates, the glitchy loops of Menos el Oso, or the modernized Fripp-inspired wizardry of Planet of Ice. By the time the band entered our current decade, their knack for reinvention yielded to an emphasis on refinement. Albums like OMNI and Infinity Overhead searched for a middle ground where their myriad of stylistic approaches could all work within the context of a single record.

On their sixth album VOIDS, Minus the Bear started with a blank slate, and inadvertently found themselves applying the same starting-from-scratch strategies that fueled their initial creative process. “There was a lot of change and uncertainty,” says guitarist David Knudson. “I think the general vibe of emptiness, replacement, lacking, and longing to fill in the gaps was very present in everyones’ minds.” Change was everywhere. Keyboardist/vocalist Alex Rose took on a more prominent role in composition and handled lead vocal duties on songs like “Call the Cops,” “Tame Beasts,” and “Robotic Heart,” drummer Kiefer Matthias joined the fold, producer Sam Bell lent a fresh set of ears in the studio, and the band returned to their original label home at Suicide Squeeze Records. Minus the Bear were no longer swept along by the momentum that had driven them for the last fifteen years. Instead, they reached a point where they could recalibrate and redefine who they were as a musical entity. The resulting album VOIDS retains many of the band’s signature qualities—the hedonistic tales of nighttime escapism and candid vignettes of adulthood, the savvy up-tempo beats, the layered and nuanced instrumentation—while simultaneously reminding us of the musical wanderlust that initially put them on the map.

Album opener “Last Kiss” immediately establishes the band’s renewed fervor. An appropriately dizzying guitar line plunges into a propulsive groove before the chorus unfolds into a multi-tiered pop chorus. From there the album flows into “Give & Take”, a tightly wound exercise in syncopation that recalls the celebratory pulse of early Bear classics like “Fine + 2 Pts” while exploring new textures and timbres. “Invisible” is arguably the catchiest song of the band’s career, with Jake Snider’s vocal melodies and Knudson’s imaginative guitar work battling for the strongest hooks. “What About the Boat?” reminds us of the “math-rock” tag that followed the band in their early years, with understated instrumentation disguising an odd-time beat. “Erase,” recalls the merging of forlorn indie pop and electronica that the band dabbled with on their early EPs, but demonstrates the Bear’s ongoing melodic sophistication and tonal exploration. By the time the band reaches album closer “Lighthouse,” they’ve traversed so much sonic territory that the only appropriate tactic left at their disposal is a climactic crescendo, driven at its peak by Cory Murchy’s thunderous bass. Not since Planet of Ice’s “Lotus” has the Bear achieved such an epic finale. All in all, it’s an album that reminds us of everything that made us fall in love with Minus the Bear in the first place, and a big part of that appeal is the sense that the band is heading into uncharted territories.

Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to release VOIDS to the world on March 3, 2017 on CD, LP, and cassette. Nick Steinhardt designed the artwork and layout for all formats. The first pressing of the album is available on 5,000 copies of splatter colored vinyl and 5,000 copies of 180 gram black vinyl. The LP jacket features PMS inks, a die-cut cover with a printed inner sleeve and contains a download code. The cassette version is limited to 500 copies and includes a download code as well.
The Coathangers
The Coathangers
If you’re familiar with The Coathangers then you probably know the Atlanta group’s premise. The story goes that four young women decided to start a band for the sole purpose of being able to hang out and play parties. They weren’t going to let the fact that none of them knew how to play any instruments get in the way of their having a good time. The backstory certainly added to the charm of early songs like “Nestle In My Boobies” and “Stop Stomp Stompin’”--songs that resided somewhere between no-wave’s caustic stabs of dissonance and garage rock’s primal minimalism. In the seven years since their formation, The Coathangers have released a slew of records and toured across North America and Europe countless times. The persistence of such a casual endeavor is a testament to the infectious quality of their songs and the electric nature of their unruly live show.

Suck My Shirt is the The Coathangers’ fourth full-length. The title refers to an incident involving the salvaging of spilled tequila during the recording session for the album. While the title implies that little has changed with regards to the band’s celebratory mission statement, even just a cursory listen of their latest album demonstrates that there have indeed been changes in The Coathangers’ camp. First off, the quartet was reduced to a trio for the latest record, with keyboardist Bebe Coathanger (Candice Jones) stepping down from her duties. But the absence of keyboards isn’t nearly as noticeable of a difference as the band’s refined songwriting approach. Refinement is an attribute we expect to see in any group that has a career spanning more than a couple of years, but the extent to which The Coathangers have honed their trade with each successive album dwarfs most bands’ maturation. This isn’t to say that The Coathangers have polished their sound; the group once again worked with Ed Rawls and Justin McNeight at The Living Room to attain the same production values of their Larceny & Old Lace album and their recent slew of split 7”s. Rather, the refinement can be heard in the quality of the songs themselves. While the band retains the alluring spontaneity and happy accidents of their early releases, the trio’s current work sounds far more deliberate and locked-in than anything they’ve done in the past.

“It’s a balance between overthinking and just going for it,” guitarist Crook Kid Coathanger (Julia Kugel) says of their songwriting strategy. It’s a duality immediately apparent with the album opener “Follow Me”. It’s a classic Coathangers tune with the raspy vocals of Rusty Coathanger (Stephanie Luke) belted out over the signature grimy rock laid down by Crook Kid and bassist Minnie Coathanger (Meredith Franco). But the chorus opens into one of the most accessible hooks in the band’s canon, just before segueing into the next verse with a squall of violent dissonant guitar. From there the band launches into “Shut Up”, a title that harkens back to the brash sass of their first record. The song still has its spikey guitar riffs and shouted chorus, but here The Coathangers sound less like a jubilant version of Huggy Bear and more like the art-pop of late-era Minutemen. Dedicated Coathangers fans will recognize the re-worked versions of “Merry Go Round”, “Smother”, “Adderall”, and “Derek’s Song” from their run of limited edition split 7”s, and hearing them in the context of the album shows that these tracks weren’t merely isolated examples of the band’s more sophisticated side, but were actually demonstrative of the group’s increasing capacity for nestling solid melodic hooks and rock heft into their repertoire. By the time the band wraps up the album with the humble pop perfection of “Drive”, it’s hard to believe this was the band that garnered their reputation with raucous bombasts like “Don’t Touch My Shit”.

“Ultimately, every album is a snapshot of who we were at the time,” says Crook Kid. And while that might mean that The Coathangers in 2014 don’t feel compelled to chronicle the youthful piss and vinegar that yielded the Teenage Jesus & The Jerks-esque spasms of their debut album, it’s exciting to hear the output of the band as they explore the range of their temperaments with a broader musical palette at their disposal. Suck My Shirt is available on LP, CD, and digital formats on March 18th 2014 via Suicide Squeeze Records.
Venue Information:
Royale Nightclub
279 Tremont Street
Boston, MA, 02116
http://royaleboston.com/