“Play something we know!” shouted some drunk flanneled dude from the back of Chicago’s Lincoln Hall. The Men either didn’t hear him or didn’t care, as they unveiled six–you heard me, six–brand new cuts during last night’s 13-song set. And I mean new as in written, like, yesterday. The audience heard more tracks from the Brooklyn quintet’s yet to be released, yet to be titled fifth album than 2010’s Immaculada (1), 2011’s Leave Home (2),2012’s Open Your Heart (3), and this year’s stellar, CoS Top Star-rated New Moon (4), the latter of which is just over a month old.
The good news? The new(est) stuff is great. From the somehow cheerful dirge of “The Black Waltz” to the whirlpool rockabilly of “Pearly” (fearlessly played as the encore), The Men’s latest material delves even further into the demented rootsiness explored on New Moon, most of it faster, louder, and ruder. If New Moon was a seance of late ’70s Tom Petty and Neil Young, whatever’s coming next is a Pet Sematary resurrection of The Replacements.
What’s more, The Men are applying their evolved aesthetic to their older material. Although it crapped out after one song, Mark Perro’s Rhodes piano replaced the nervous guitar intro of Leave Home‘s “()”, moodily vamping before drummer Rich Samis, bassist Kevin Faulkner, and guitarists Nick Chiericozzi and Ben Greenberg kicked in with their signature clatter of noise punk. The Men have been around less than five years, but it felt like a blending of eras, the energy of the past filtered through the sound of the present.
I should also note that save for Samis, every member–including their new bassist Faulkner–took lead vocal duty on at least one song. On record, it’s hard to tell who’s singing, and the musicians often switch instruments, inviting inevitable comparisons to The Band when considering the current direction of their music. But whereas Danko, Helm, Hudson, Manuel, and Robertson were chained to the past (even by the time The Last Waltz came around), The Men only know how to look to the future.
Photography by Michael Roffman.
The Dark Waltz (new song)
Another Night (new song)
I Saw Her Face
Open Your Heart
Unknown new song
Different Days (new song)
Without a Face
Unknown new song
Pearly (new song)