The Men


(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Immaculada (2010), 6.5/10
Leave Home (2011), 7.5/10
Open Your Heart (2012), 6/10
New Moon (2013), 5/10
Tomorrow's Hits (2014), 6/10
Devil Music (2016), 6.5/10
Drift (2018), 5/10
Mercy (2020), 5/10
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The Men, a New York-based punk quartet formed by guitarists Mark Perro and Nick Chiericozzi, debuted with the distorted space-rock of the EP We Are The Men (2009). The eight-song album, Immaculada (2010), was recorded in the rawest of styles. The lightning-speed rage a` la Germs of Oh Yoko and the beastly freakout of Grave Desecration revive the golden days of punk-rock, but the seven-minute slow-burning "acid" instrumental Madonna Star of the Sea takes a major detour into psychedelic territory. Lazarus is the compromise between the two extremes: first some chaotic noise of guitars and then a melody worthy of the psychedelic 1960s but propelled by punk impetus.

Leave Home (2011) was a more musical affair despite boasting the same savage energy. This time the introduction, If You Leave, is a seven-minute instrumental that starts with a pointless drone but eventually erupts into a soaring pow-wow dance replete with shamanic invocations. The roaring, visceral, chaotic and dissonant Think tops anything on the first album, followed by the driving breathless garage-rock eruption of () and by the psychotic rant over a barrage of distortions (a` la Laughing Hyenas) of Bataille. The anthemic and abrasive instrumentals Lotus and Shittin' With the Shah evoke an encounter between the Stooges and Television. The whole is sandwiched between the eight-minute opener, If You Leave, which bridges a dilated psychedelic trip and a spaced-out romp a` la early Red Krayola, and the frenzied motorik-paced space-rock of Night Landing. The tortured dirge (a` la early Swans) of Ladoch stands aside, perhaps a hint that the band is capable of much more than just grating garage-rock. The Men created a program of ferocious dances for a vacation in hell.

After replacing the rhythm section with drummer Rich Samis and bassist Kevin Faulkner, the Men tamed their fury on Open Your Heart (2012). Open Your Heart is their attempt at a regular song, and two other songs flirt with country music: Country Song (which is actually an instrumental) and especially Candy, which sounds like a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover. seven-minute psychedelic litany Presence. The punk songs (Animal, Cube) are no less bludgeoning than in the past but they a case of "too little too late". The garage rave-up of standout Turn It Around sounds like a combination of the Stiff Little Fingers' Suspect Device (main riff) and the Rolling Stones' Have You Seen Your Mother Baby (secondary riff of the jangling guitar). The closing clawing cosmic instrumental Ex-Dreams is a welcome reminder of what they are capable of.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Gianfranco Federico)

The Men, un combo punk con base a New York composto dai chitarristi Mark Perro e Nick Chiericozzi, debuttò con lo space-rock distorto dell’EP We Are The Men (2009). L’album Immaculada (2010) aggiunse al mix diverse moli di musica rock estremamente degradata, suonando come un’enciclopedia degli ultimi venti anni di musica non-pop; musica che non richiede attenzione, bensì distrazione. Dopo il breve strumentale di droni Stranger Song, la band annuncia la sua arrogante filosofia con il grindcore bestiale di Grave Desecration, presto eclissato dal disordine punk di Lazarus e dal catastrofico, dissonante crescendo psichedelico di Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition. La combinazione di urla psicotiche, ritmo frenetico e rumore chitarristico in canzoni come Problems/Burning Up e Immaculada evoca gli Anni Novanta dei Cows e dei Laughing Hyenas. Da un altro lato, lo strumentale di sette minuti Madonna; The Star Of The Sea potrebbe essere un poco ipnotica ma difficilmente può essere considerata rivoluzionaria o rivelatrice.

 

Leave Home (Sacred Bones, 2011) elevò l’incoerenza e la contraddizione a regola estetica. Questa volta l’introduzione, If You Leave, è uno strumentale di sette minuti che comincia con un drone senza senso ma che alla fine si impenna in una danza pow-wow riempita con invocazioni sciamaniche. Segue la martellante, ciclonica Lotus, dominata dal basso e dalla batteria, con una debole chitarra raga-cosmica sullo sfondo. La veemente cacofonia punk-rock di Think segna un barbarico cambio di intensità, ben controbilanciato dall’agonizzante, sub-umana demenza blues di L.A.D.O.C.H. Un riff cosmico e una progressione ritmica a là Interstellar Overdrive dei Pink Floyd sono accoppiati ad una disperata declamazione a rotta di collo in Bataille. Dopo un simile attacco furioso l’album sembra rilassarsi con Shittin' With The Shah, ma è una mera illusione: presto la musica esplode nuovamente in un crescendo infernale. L’urlo rauco e l’implacabile ritmo boogie seppelliscono viva Night Landing in una sfera molto più terrena, quasi fosse un rock degli AC/DC a velocità doppia e privo di velleità liriche. Questa volta i Men hanno creato un flusso senza sosta di feroci danze adatte per una vacanza all’inferno.

In confronto, Open Your Heart (2012) è un album di garage-rock convenzionale, sebbene anche i brani più orecchiabili (Turn It Around) rilascino tre o quattro volte la normale dose di caos e rumore. La ricerca insistente di un ritornello melodico porta malamente fuori strada Please Don't Go Away e Open Your Heart. Un lento strumentale surf-country come Country Song e una ballata nello stile dei Creedence Clearwater Revival come Candy potrebbero essere puro genio o una tattica commerciale sbagliata, a seconda del gusto. La furia punk dei sette minuti di Oscillation e la lenta ascesa dei sette minuti di Presence suonano inconcludenti, in quanto non coagulano attorno ad alcun nucleo significativo. Le canzoni punk (AnimalCube) non sono meno pesanti di un tempo, ma rappresentano un caso di “troppo poco e troppo tardi”. Il graffiante strumentale cosmico Ex-Dreams, in chiusura, potrebbe anche essere stato nell’album precedente, ed è un promemoria bene accetto di ciò di cui il gruppo è capace.

The 12-song New Moon (2013) is too lightweight to be taken seriously. It opens with the lame country-rock of Open the Door and stumbles on several mediocre songs (the poppy The Seeds, the Dylan-ian Freaky). Bird Song, with harmonica and martial pace, is an odd imitation of Neil Young. Better, in that relaxed mode, the atmospheric instrumental High and Lonesome (somewhere between Duane Eddy and Eric Clapton). Nonetheless the split-brain personality of the band yields the punk bullet of The Brass, imbued with Dead Kennedys' hysteria, the tribal eight-minute psychedelic hell of Supermoon, and especially the suspenseful cow-punk fury of Without a Face (a` la Gun Club).

Their schizophrenia peaked on Tomorrow's Hits (2014), an album that opens with another Creedence Clearwater Revival-inspired singalong, Dark Waltz, indulges in the poppy refrain of Get What You Give (halfway between Brit-pop and the Electric Prunes), harkens back to the singer-songwriter of the 1970s with the piano-driven and harmonica-tinged Sleepless, and winks at Tom Petty with the relaxed Settle Me Down. At the same time the band plunges into the Bruce Springsteen-ian rockers Another Night (even the sax hook) and Going Down, and explodes the vehement Pearly Gates, a noisy tribute to the rock'n'roll of Chuck Berry and Little Richard; which makes everything else sound like wallpaper.

Just when the Men seemed destined for ever more more mainstream music, Devil Music (2016), their second best album, returned to the raw and wild garage sound of their early albums without the juvenile overtones. The stormy Dreamer and especially Ridin' On, the emphatic punk-rock of Crime, the syncopated, bluesy, Rolling Stones-ian Patterns the visceral and heavy Violate, the hoarse rhythm'n'blues of Hit the Ground, the deranged and drunk noise-rock of Lion's Den and the desperate threnody Fire compose their most articulate and passionate fresco.

Drift (2018) contains one more song in the punk-rock style, Killed Someone, but otherwise it's the album of a different band, from the synth-driven boogie Maybe I'm Crazy (an angry version of Inxs) to the sinister country-jazz instrumental Secret Light via a handful of atmospheric country ballads (notably Sleep).

The seven-song Mercy (2020) is even more erratic than Tomorrow's Hits, and with material of inferior quality, from the vibrant shouter's blues of Breeze to the dance-pop of Children All Over the World via the yeehaw country of Call the Doctor. The album is saved by the organ-tinged ten-minute instrumental jam Wading in Dirty Water, which perhaps was the real reason for the album to exist.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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