I don’t know if we can say that we’re in a time when “grower” music — stuff that takes a while to grow on you — is doomed. If anything is suffering, it’s rabid fandom. A band gets an idea, people grow to like it, and all of a sudden there are 500 clones of that artist with which to contend. Immediately, things get ruined by idiots putting out albums, and fans lose interest. Overall a much better environment than during the ’70s, when there were about 10 bands with records on real record labels, but perhaps a case could be made for being able to copyright a vibe itself as opposed to an individual song. That’s one solution anyway — call me a snob, but quantity is not a synonym for quality.
Seattle grower band Minus The Bear have accepted their birthright with this album. Having abandoned the puzzling but great indie fusion of records past, they’re now a cross between 90125-era Yes and Jackson Browne with just enough hiphop/funk/glitch thrown in to be a pain in the neck to lame-brained taste-makers. Sure, it’s antiquated AOR-radio for the first two tunes, like Spyro Gyra risen from the grave, but “Secret Country” needs to be in every prog-geek’s iPod, for its fiercely male vibe but for this one riff that clubs you over the head with a “crap, I’ll be humming this for the rest of the week” stick. The band is scary-tight, too, which is a trip coming from this generation — thank Allah they’re not off being a generic fusion unknown. A
— Eric W. Saeger