Release Date: Mar 5, 2013
Record label: Sacred Bones
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Noise-Rock
Hearing the lap steel and acoustic guitar on some of these jams, it's easy to forget that four years and four albums ago, these Brooklynites were face-melting noise punks. New Moon reminds you that the Men can go pretty much anywhere they please, from pogo-worthy explosions ("Electric") and instrumental backwoods bum-outs ("High and Lonesome") to old-school psychedelic blowouts (all eight glorious minutes of "Supermoon"). .
About a week ago, The Men posted a blog entry titled “Suck My Vibe” that consisted of two images: the cover of Neil Young’s famed Chrome Dreams bootleg and the photo from Dolly Parton’s 1972 collection, The World of Dolly Parton. The post isn’t snarky. It isn’t ironic. It isn’t meant to be a joke.
The MenNew Moon[Sacred Bones; 2013]By Andrew Halverson; March 13, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe Men have a history that's impossible to ignore, but it has little to say about what kind of music they are presently making. Sure, there's a traceable progression, and while it's easy to say that they've lost their edge or more critically, "thrown it away," they're simply making the music they want to make without worrying about what comes tomorrow. This allows them to paint themselves as one of the few chameleons in rock music that manage to reach beyond a single tone--and even more impressive, on a dime.
Dinosaur Jr. have released 10 albums to date, all of which sound like Dinosaur Jr. albums except for one glaring outlier: The group’s 1985 debut, Dinosaur. For those who haven’t heard it, it’s a jarring listen. Still a few years away from finalizing their signature fuzz rock—they hadn’t ….
It's the first law of indie-rock: Every grungy, guitar-powered act-- from Dinosaur Jr. to Titus Andronicus-- eventually goes a little Crazy Horse, gradually easing their squalling sludgefeasts into a classic-rock comfort zone. I just didn't expect it to happen so soon for the Men. Over the course of two quick-succession albums, 2011's Leave Home and last year's Open Your Heart, the Brooklyn bruisers' primordial post-hardcore roar had exploded into a constellation of possibilities, exploring everything from krautrock to country to shoegazed psychedelia.
The phrase "Whatever you are, be a good one," most oftenly attributed to Abraham Lincoln appears to be a piece of advice that the Men have taken to heart. When they were a hardcore punk band, bashing out noisy juggernauts in the vein of Big Black and the Jesus Lizard, they were a good one. When they transformed themselves into a more of a straightforward '70s punk influenced band with shades of surf rock and Americana, they were a good one.
Over the years it’s becoming a tried and tested artistic technique for musicians to get away from it all, run away to the country, shut themselves away in a log cabin and record an album. Why not? A change of scene is always nice, and more importantly by now there is plenty of precedent for a period of rural seclusion stimulating some compelling music. Bob Dylan might have pioneered this sort of thing when he and the Band shut themselves away to record in Big Pink in 1967, after Dylan’s motorcycle accident.
On their fourth album in as many years, the Men are fast becoming one of the more prolific bands in indie rock, and though New Moon might be a mellower affair than their previous work, they show no signs of slowing down. Continuing along the path set down on 2012's Open Your Heart, the album pairs the abrasive production of their earlier efforts with a more melodic sound, creating a sound akin to Dinosaur Jr. on a serious Tom Petty kick.
There’s been no shortage of bands with DIY punk and hardcore roots gaining overground approval in recent years. Iceage, Fucked Up, Trash Talk, Pissed Jeans and our subjects for today, Brooklyn quintet The Men: it’s encouraging that most of them still sound broadly the same – and just as abrasive – as they did when they were way below the water. ‘New Moon’, The Men’s fourth album, is the sore-thumb exception.Take the songs ‘LADOCH’, from 2011 breakthrough-ish full-length ‘Leave Home’, and ‘Open The Door’, the first track off ‘New Moon’.
Though not quite as earsplitting as fellow Brooklynites A Place To Bury Strangers, there’s a fiery relentlessness about these, um, men that almost makes you wish they’d actually take up a political cause or two. Fourth release New Moon finds them again breaking down a few sound barriers. Indeed, on tracks like “Without a Face” and the aptly named “Electric,” they unite a wall-of-sound sonic assault with a jittery punk fury to thoroughly explosive effect.
Review Summary: now with 90% more antagonistically pleasant pianoI think that embedded in the recording of the jolly, piano-bar intro to “Open the Door” is the sound of a thousand pissed-off Leave Home fans clenching their fists in frustration. The Men seem to have developed a troubled relationship to what their fans expect them to do and what they want to do. Over the course of four albums, they’ve leaned to the latter, aggressively shirking the pigeonholes they set up for themselves.
A new moon suggests a fresh start and new beginnings, but The Men aren’t really the kind of band that just starts over. Indeed, this is an album that isn’t fooled by astrological patterns and understands that the moon isn’t new, it’s the same old lump of rock it has always been, just illuminated in a slightly different way. This is music so ingrained with influences from the past that it is almost impossible to separate the old from the new, and The Men seem intent on continually lighting up lumps of old rock.
Of course I feel underwhelmed by “Open The Door,” the opening track off of The Men’s New Moon. A piano and mandolin ballad slab of American country could only underwhelm the post-Open Your Heart listener. But much like the occasional piece of Americana gold, I was totally bored with it until it was stuck in my head a week later. The lyrics are bad.
If you were a fan of last year’s Open Your Heart, when you push “play” on New Moon, you might think that you started the wrong album by accident, and upon seeing that you are definitely listening to The Men, you still might think that this is a different band called The Men. Seriously. Try it. If I hadn’t just told you all of that, you totally would have succumbed.
Long-time fans of the Men might be a bit confused when listening to New Moon for the first time. What's with all the acoustic guitars and mandolins? Where's the snarling, post-hardcore Brooklyn band who were cheeky enough to name their second record after a Ramones album? Is that a harmonica solo on Bird Song? Their fourth full-length album, which likely isn't named after the Twilight novel, comes on the heels of last year's Open Your Heart, the group's strongest effort to date. Though they've acknowledged their alt-country inclinations in the past, they go further down the rabbit hole this time, especially on mournful instrumental High And Lonesome.
Brooklyn punk-rock rabble-rousers The Men have gone astral on their appropriately-titled fourth record, New Moon, leaving behind some of the blistering urgency of their earlier work in favour of a more restrained, melodic sound. And while some of the new songs crackle with a dynamic freshness that sonic reinvention and taking chances typically brings, you get the sense that the band isn’t really playing to their strengths throughout much of this disjointed album, and have in turn lost some of the magical mayhem that made their music so breathlessly arresting in the first place. New Moon eases itself open with the piano-driven, bar room honky-tonk of ‘Open The Door’, a swinging acoustic number that might make you question if your are indeed listening to the right band.
Curse you the Nineties! For all the numerous joys you bestowed upon the world (Mario Kart 64, Space Jam, The Rock), your lo-fi legacy can be a complete ballache from time. Somehow a generation of bands has grown up believing it’s their moral duty to record every passing chord structure in a studio that boasts the sound quality of a Soviet oil tanker’s cargo hold. What’s good enough for Guided By Voices...
The Men venture further into Americana and old-timey, Yo La Tengo-esque pop on their fourth album, New Moon. “Without a Face” and “Bird Song” echo the Neil Young-style sprawl of Open Your Heart‘s “Country Song,” while “Open the Door” is reminiscent of the light pop bounce of that album’s “Candy. ” There’s also plenty of straight-up rock on New Moon to please the band’s longtime fans, from “Half Angel Half Light” to bursts of energy like “The Brass” and “Electric.
It’s been exactly a year since the release of The Men’s third and critically-acclaimed album Open Your Heart. There was little to dislike in that album: the hybrid of classic rock riffage, noise rock, and psychedelia provided what could only be described as a raw approach to a vintage cool. Compared to the album that came before it, 2011’s Leave Home, Open Your Heart was a welcome expansion not only of genres, but of the band’s songwriting.
Great albums have arcs. They have beginnings and ends, crescendos and centerpieces. They catch you off guard, make you remember every song, and queue up on your Spotify, in your car, and on your phone. Fourth LP New Moon finds Brooklyn fivepiece the Men shedding five years of crashing and burning within the first seven seconds of lead track "Open the Door." Acoustic guitars come into play this round, along with pianos and harmonicas ("Bird Song"), shared vocals ("Half Angel Half Light"), and contained chaos ("The Brass").
When the time came to record their new album, The Men headed a couple of hours north of New York City to a cabin in the Catskill Mountains. The upshot of a 300 million year process of compression and erosion, the Catskills formed from a layer of gradually compressed stone bursting through layers of sediment that had over time been deposited on top of it. According to official lines, the band left the city behind to impose technical limitations on themselves as they set about recording the follow up to last year's widely acclaimed Open Your Heart.
The moon – as you’ll no doubt have noticed, if you happen to live near a section of sky – always hangs above us, unnoticed but vital. It tugs at the sleeves of our oceans, it sets our calendars, and it captures our imagination. The moon is the only unearthly place that a human has ever set foot. It represents exploration and the unknown.
The way New Moon begins is certainly surprising. Though the Men have shown some versatility in the past, it has never involved the smooth sounds of an electric piano, precisely the centerpiece of “Open the Door,” the album’s first track and ostensible harbinger of a new focus for the band. It’s a bold move to start with this track and its follow up “Half Angel Half Light,” the two most un-Men-like songs on the record, and it’s proven to be off-putting to some, who have prematurely mourned the death of the Men, noisy rock band.
Another year, another album from the Men. Over the past two years or so, the Brooklyn quintet has become famous for two things: punchy, melodic punk and a creative fertility approaching that of their San Franciscan peers, like Thee Oh Sees, or even Guided By Voices. Just like the city they claim as home, the Men are a restless bunch, ambitious rockers always searching for new ways to distill garage down to its frazzled, frenzied skeleton—and shape those bones into a creature even rowdier than its ancestor.
Rewind to 2011: New York amp molesters the Men make Leave Home, a gloriously oppressive record documenting unhealthy manifestations of seething attitude and amplifier vivisection somewhere between the sociopathic tendencies of the legendary Birthday Party and the blistering shuddering of contemporaries Pissed Jeans. Fast-forward to 2013: The band’s fourth album, New Moon, finds them dialing back their minimum daily requirement of attitude that made them so enthralling in the first place. That’s nothing new, as the shift began with 2012’s patently soporific Open Your Heart, where the band traded much of their bad juju for Byrds, Crazy Horse and Gram Parsons records.