Minus the Bear doesn't sound much like the punkish Seattle-based bands that had formerly housed the four members of the group.
Guitarist David Knudson and bassist Cory Murchy were in the band Botch. Drummer Erin Tate was in Kill Sadie and singer Jake Snider was in Sharks Keep Moving. But in Minus the Bear, the foursome (along with recently departed programmer/keyboardist Matt Bayles, since replaced by Alex Rose) have created a rather abstract brand of pop built around interlocking guitar and keyboard parts and Snider's deadpan yet melodic vocal lines.
But to Murchy, the contrasts between Minus the Bear and the musicians' former bands is easy enough to explain.
"I think it just came from a desire to play different music than we'd been playing," he says in a phone interview. "It was new people, new blood, new ideas, and we were able to do it because there was nothing [to pattern the sound after]. So we could just kind of put in weird parts, and made things that didn't sound like our old bands."
If anything, the band's latest CD, Menos el Oso, is even harder to categorize than the three previous Minus the Bear EPs and the 2002 full-length CD, Highly Refined Pirates.
The earlier records were also known for their humor (as typified by song titles like "Kickin' it Like a Wild Donkey" and "Hey Wanna Throw Up"). Menos el Oso, though, gets away from that element.
"It was definitely a conscious decision, and just because there had been so much ink devoted to our song titles. It had gotten to the point where it was like all right, let's see if there's ink to be spilled elsewhere," Murchy says.
Minus the Bear, with opening acts at Welcome Back Concert
Farrand Field, University of Colorado at Boulder
Saturday, Aug. 26, 6:30 p.m.