Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Philly Music: Man Man - Six Demon Bag

Man Man, "Banana Ghost"

Man Man, "Van Helsing Boombox"

No better band to kick off our look at the Philly music scene in all of its glory and diversity than with its weirdest and one of its best, Man Man. I imagine everyone has heard of them, but not sure that people have actually listened to the music. The comparisons have all been given, from Captain Beefheart to Tom Waits, and all basically get at the same premise. That this is a band willing to experiment with sound, willing to push at the edges of rock music tradition.

These tracks come off their 2006 release, Six Demon Bag, their second full-length on Ace Fu Records. It's a little less crazy than the previous effort, or maybe just a little more focused. The sound has a circus music feel at times, other times a jazz feel, other times an experimental band playing the opening set at Tonic, brief metal freakouts, I think you get the picture. The music is both rough and pretty, loud and quiet, inane and profound. Pay special attention to the percussion on the album, which doesn't seem to get much notice but should. Amid all the chaos and morphing, it holds the music together.

Lead singer Honus Honus' gravelly voice is probably the reason for the many Waits references, but I would say that Man Man's albums remind me most of Waits' late 80s, early 90s masterpieces. I'm thinking of Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones and Frank's Wild Years. These are the best signpost for what to expect, and a measure of how good I think Man Man can be, as those Waits album hold a special place for me. There is a similar kitchen-sink approach, a kind of junkyard approach to music that sits so far out of the mainstream (not just pop music, but indie as well). You hear it in the horns, the shouts and screams, the gamelan percussion, the many instruments listed in the liner notes.

Mocking Music has the essential post on all of this, including an interview with Honus Honus , links and some mp3s, including an Etta James cover not available on any album. Nick Sylvester raved about Six Demon Bag at Pitchfork. For real, bol knew what was up, paying respect to a lof the same bands that I love (Love Is All, Blood On The Tracks). I'm just sayin'. Are you familiar? hooks us up with an Adam Sparkles (another Philly connection) remix of Man Man's "Tunneling Through the Guy". Stereogum has a great review of their show at NYU a few weeks ago. Dichotomy of Epiphany has an older track, "White Rice Brown Heart", for download. Un vilon, un jambon has a few tracks from this new album, proving that Man Man, like Pound for Pound and Jerry Lewis, are big in France. After you check all of that out, go and grab their new album at Insound for a nice sale price.

As I'm sure you can guess, this is the start of what I hope will be an intense week or so of Philly-centric music. After that, I hope to make it a consistent feature of this site, as I would love nothing more than expose the country to the great music scene here and get the music. If you are a Philly band, DJ, artist, get in touch as I'm all ears.

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