Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Man Man does Milford

On the fifteenth of July I saw Man Man play at Daniel Street Cafe in Milford and it was easily the best show I've gone to this summer. If you're not familiar with the Philadelphia band then I can only encourage you to listen to a few of their songs because it's pretty difficult to do their unique sound much justice with any number of words. The press likes to compare them to Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, both artists whose influence I can definitely hear, but Man Man is so much more than a mere synthesis of two styles. The band's ensemble includes horns, saxes, guitars, keyboards, a xylophone, and various other pieces of unusual noise-making paraphernalia; which is, doubtless, the reason for the Zappa comparison (along with the occasional high pitched, doowop background vocals and the singer's unmistakeable resembalance to the man himself). The voice of front man, Honus Honus, whose off-stage name escapes me, is gravelly and crooning like the voice of Tom Waits crossed with that of a hardcore singer's. Most of the lyrics are sung but at times, they're screamed for emphasis, like in the chorus of the song "Top Drawer".

In concert, Man Man plays with great energy and even greater volume. Percussion was perhaps the loudest instrument of the night and was not limited to the drumset but also included things like trash cans and coffee cans.
Within minutes of the show's opening I found myself fighting through a veritable sea of flailing hipsters to get a good peek at the theatrics of Honus Honus. The loud music fomented a regular mosh pit, which I used to my advantage by creeping up to the very front for the last half hour of the set.

Honus was a sight to see and was certainly worth the pushing and shoving. He came on stage dressed at first in a flowing green garb which when combined with his beard and facial hair made me think immediately of the cover of the fz album, we're only in it for the money. It was epic.

Go see them before you die.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Space Truckin'

I love the flaming lips but my first reaction to hearing about Wayne Coyne's nephew fronting a band with the Lips as a major influence was: "great, we're in for a mediocre, amateur ish version of the flaming lips". This is because I'm such an unapologetic, headstrong, music snob but despite my stubborness I was impressed by their first full album; The Birth. The music, while reminiscent of the flaming lips, was certainly able to stand on it's own. Like the flaming lips, Stardeath has a sound heavily influenced by space-rock ; the 70s genre of rock characterized by synthesizers, sci-fi lyrics, and rich dimension-filled production (examples include Pink Floyd and Hawkwind). Bands like Stardeath and the Lips demonstrate a sort of reimagining of space-rock which is just a bit poppier and more accessible to the average listener without making it as boring as most pop music tends to be lately. The album contains a good variety of material from the funky "Those who are from the sun return to the sun" to the catchy "Can't get away" to the melancholy "Country Ballad". This band has such wide appeal to so many different listeners.

Metal Lyrics: huh?

Warning: if you are a die-hard metal-head then the below blog entry
WILL offend you and fill you with anger and compel you to leave and listen to bands with names like bloodfilth and burningvengfulgargoyleballs while you brood in your self-imposed metal kid

Metal kid, what the hell is your problem? How can you tolerate the lyrics of your genre? With very few exceptions (S.O.A.D for example, and Dragonforce which makes fun of overly dramatic metal lyrics) metal lyrics seem to be a kitschy rehashing of corny, Christian-phobic, wannabe deep and thoughtful, 80's hairband lyrics. While hair-metal can be a lot of fun, I don't think anyone is going to run to its defense as a source of lyrical genius.

My favorite example of faux-philosophical, faux-meaningful lyrics even, is from the Dio song Holy Diver. The whole song is lyrically absurd but here are the most entertaining words:

Ride the tiger!
You can see his stripes but you know he's clean
Oh don't you know what I mean?

No Ronnie, no. I don't know what you mean. I don't know what the fuck you're talking about and anyone who says that they "know what you mean" is living in the same pretentious, metal-head, fantasy-land that you are. Dio and artists like him are hacks! Metal artists should go back to their true proto-metal roots rather than get inspiration from hackneyed 80's nostalgia. Look at Black Sabbath and Deep Purple or even Iggy and the Stooges! They are the true forerunners of metal, not Night Ranger or Motley Crue! If mainstream metal wants to have a shot at originality then it has to break free of all the stupid cliches that make everyone groan and stereotype it as vapid and thoughtless. Metal needs to return to it's roots rather than rely on the period which made it a laughingstock in the first place.

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