The Men

The Men
‘New Moon’
(Sacred Bones)

TheMen_NewMoonSome bands are content to rest on their laurels. Too many bands are happy to make the same record over and over again, never really moving forward, never progressing for fear of alienating their audience, too scared to take risks, frightened what it might do to their career, their finances.

Then there are bands that are in it for creative rewards. Endlessly and fearlessly evolving and moving forward, never content to sit still and stagnate. Brooklyn heads The Men are one of these bands. The primal raging hardcore roar of their early records has gradually given way to a sprawling, face-melting psychedelic noise with a country twang. Vibes and vapours of Crazy Horse, Dinosaur Jr, Pavement and Ween ripple from each track; classic American skewed song-writing with tunes that stick in your head and a thrilling free-form approach to rocking. When The Men go full tilt on a song like ‘Electric’ they damn near take the roof off, elevating the floor, punching holes in the walls. Then there’s ‘Open The Door’, a tender, roaming country ballad that recalls Stephen Malkmus at his most inspired. And there is so much more besides.

Already a strong contender for album of the year. How do I know this? Because I’ve played it pretty much every day for a month straight and I just keep falling more and more in love with it. The songs take on new meanings, new layers, new melodies. The Men are a very special band. Watch them grow and journey with them.

James Sherry

The Men and Parquet Courts Live at the Garage

The Men / Parquet Courts
The Relentless Garage, London
March 19th

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New York quartet Parquet Courts are creating quite a healthy little buzz for themselves at the moment and it’s not hard to see why. They were the ‘band everyone was talking about’ at SXSW this year and tonight they face a crammed to capacity Garage as they swagger out onstage to confront a London crowd eager to see what all the fuss is about. And they take it calmly in their stride. Parquet Courts are effortlessly cool, brooding with a Velvet Underground menace, a spiky Mark E Smith snarl and wailing Pavement-esque out of tune guitars, they are minimal, jagged and have some excellent songs hidden amongst the noise and snarl. You’re going to be hearing a lot from this band this year.

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Whilst Parquet Courts are rigid and tight, The Men couldn’t be set further apart. The Men are lose, raw, wild, explosive and all over the fucking place. In short, The Men are utterly life-affirming and incredibly exciting to watch. Live, like their recorded output, they swerve wildly from and between abrasive noise punk, Neil Young country-tinged rock, wild psychedelia, melodic grunge and everything in between. The Men pay no heed to rules. This is music flowing freely for a multitude of influences. They’re like the 13th Floor Elevators meets Spacemen 3 meets The Wipers meets Mudhoney meets Neil Young meets Black Flag and it sounds so good it makes you want to hold your breath and detonate. The Men are utterly thrilling. Grab the first chance you get to see them live.

James Sherry

The Men

Leave Home
Sacred Bones Records

While heavy guitar and punk music might not seem like the most sophisticated of genres, it’s a very difficult thing to do quite this well. Rock music has been passing me by a bit of late, so thank god for The Men, whose spectacular new album Leave Home has come out of nowhere and established itself as one of the best records of 2011.

Capturing this sort of intensity on a full length record is a rarity, especially over the course of 40 minutes when each song averages at about five minutes in length. It’s all well and good bashing out 12 songs in 20 minutes and retaining the listener’s attention, but Leave Home is a varied body of work that is exciting from start to finish. Over the course of the record The Men morph their sound into various different guises, drawing influence from the likes of Pissed Jeans, Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Shellac and more.

Beginning with a couple of pretty much straight up rock tracks, by the third song it sounds almost as though the album has lost it’s temper. The vocals become shoutier, nastier even, while the instrumentation becomes increasingly more distorted and violent. This results in arguably the album’s standout track, L.A.D.O.C.H., which splits the record into two halves with it’s near incomprehensible rage. Sparse yet emphatic drums keep the song grounded among the surrounding feedback and doom laden guitars, while vocals reach levels of aggression that feel genuinely frightening. “The bringer of everything, nothing is here to stay,” screams vocalist Nick Chiericozzi as the track collapses around him. It’s stirring stuff.

The album’s second half has a few more hooks and is generally a little easier to digest, although just as powerful. Batallie is perhaps the highlight here (below), with its melodic post hardcore format and Guy Piccioto aping vocals. The following Shitting with the Shah meanwhile, is the record’s most restrained moment, working more of a loud/quiet dynamic which offers some much needed relief, albeit covered in thick layers of distortion.

With such a broad range of different sounds on display, there should be something here for anyone with a taste for the heavier genres. Alongside Iceage’s superb debut album New Brigade, this is the proof that there’s still room for exciting, no frills rock music in 2011.

Sleekly Lion.