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September 18, 2007 - Image 9

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-09-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 9


"You're tall."

On a'Planet' all their own

Daily Arts Writer
Minus the Bear is nothing if not
reliable. For years the band has
earned a reputation as one of Seat-
tle's tightest and most technically
gifted bands. Its
complexinterplay *
of winding guitar
licks and math- Minusthe
rock grooves
have landed the Ber
band in the indie-
rock spotlight on Planet of Ice
more than sev- Suicide Squeeze
eral occasions.
But those guitar
hooks have always had more pull
than the lure of the actual tunes
- that is, until Planet of Ice.
WhileMinustheBearhave come
a long way since the days of song
titles like "Thanks for the Killer
Game of Crisco Twister" (2002's
Highly Refined Pirates) or "You're
Some Sort of Big, Fat, Smart-Bug,
Aren't You?" (2004's Bands Like
It When You Yell "YAR!" At Them
[EP]). On Planet of Ice, the instru-
ments are still pulling the lyrical
dead weight. Even when the tone

shifts to a chillier, darker climate,
the music is still cozy.
The admirable lead vocalist and
guitarist Jake Snider has a ten-
dency to slip into The Mars Volta-
land where the only thing more
ambiguousthan the lyrics is David
Knudson's guitar work - the miss-
ing link between David Gilmour
and Sega Game Gear.
While Snider may want you to
think you're trapped, isolated on a
glacial sphere and light years away
from the sun - which, apparently,
based on the band's silhouettes in
the liner notes, is where the promo
shots took place - it all comes off
as a bit of a stretch. Aren't these
the same dudes who told me, "You
kill bugs good, man"?
Still, Planet of Ice yields some of
MTB's most creative excursions.
On "Burying Luck," Knudson sput-
ters out sheets of warbled sound;
ace drummer Erin Tate adds some
well-placed clicks and clacks and
keyboardist Alex Rose delivers the
missing ingredients in the form of
tactful counterpoint. Mammals
don't play much tighter than this.
There remains few cringe-wor-
thy lyrical moments. "I owe you,

don't I? / A little light today, but
tomorrow, oh tomorrow ... /I know
it ain't the money girl /there never
was money / This usury's so typi-
cal" goes the overstated ode to lust
on "Knights." Or the follow-up,
"White Mystery," which follows
the John Mayer-approved method
a la "Your Body is a Wonderland."
"Touch me sweet / Forget the
rest / Your hooks feel so right /.
Dug in my chest," Snider croons
on the ominous "Dr. L'Ling." The
lines here are more than telling:
It's easy to have "forgot the rest"
when the hooks come in - minus
the lyrics.
But-these expected lyrical mis-
steps aside, there's not much
that disappoints on Planet of Ice,
and maybe that's the problem.
Before even popping in the disc,
the expectations of thousands of
MTB's MySpace elites are practi-
cally guaranteed to be met: hefty
grooves, decent melodies, great
musicianship and that's about it.
Which is just fine, because if you're
looking for something in the vein
of Dylan or Cohen, you're either
not into Game Gear or you've never
played a game of Crisco Twister.

An ES-335 with a Bigsby? Be still, my heart. Be still. michigandaily.com/thefilter

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9 6 4 2
Puzzle by stkd icatio n
The University of Michigan College of Literature, Science,
and the Arts presents a public lecture and reception

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