Indie-rock band to experiment musically at the Blue Moose


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Minus the Bear wanted to get funky.

After five hit albums, and tours throughout Europe, Australia, and Japan, the indie-rock band decided that it wanted to add different elements of jazz and R&B music to its 2010 release, OMNI.

"We were all listening to different soul music," said drummer Erin Tate. "It has a different rhythmic background to it. It's a bit groovier."

The Seattle-based band will perform at 6 p.m. today with Tim Kasher and Ra Ra at the Blue Moose Tap House; 211 Iowa Ave. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 at the door.

Inspired by new styles of music in hip-hop and jazz, OMNI showed the range of techniques that Minus the Bear could achieve. Not only did the sound differ from previous albums, it also had more provocative lyrics. A theme of human sexuality appears throughout the CD.

The classic soothing progressive rock sound that earned the group its fame can still be heard in the album's hit single, "My Time." The song uses a synthesizer to produce an electro-pop vibe, which sounds similar to previous Minus the Bear works, particularly 2008's Planet Ice. The album used smooth guitar rifts to produce a dreamlike quality to each song.

After the release of Planet Ice, the five-member band traveled across the globe, growing in popularity. Members decided to look for a producer to help guide them in the music industry.

Joe Chiccarelli seemed like the much-needed cure for a growing band.

"When we met him, we knew it was going to be a good fit right away," Tate said.

Chiccarelli had an impressive résumé. He had worked with big name acts such as My Morning Jacket, the White Stripes, and the Shins. He challenged Minus the Bear by going through 10 or 12 takes each rehearsal. More importantly, he helped members perfect the sound they were aiming for.

"I personally feel like it was helpful for us to get a different kind of sound," Tate said.

Minus the Bear kicked off its 2010 tour in Boston. Tonight will be the second time the band has performed in Iowa City; it appeared at the Picador in 2008.

"They are a great indie-rock band that has done well in the Iowa City area in the past," said Blue Moose booking agent Doug Roberson. "They always deliver a great show."

While OMNI adds a new flavor to Minus the Bear, members remain confident in their loyal listeners.

"We have a pretty die-hard fan base that tends to stick with our music," Tate said. "That sticks with us."

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