"We have this debate in our band," Shook Ones vocalist Scott Freeman told the crowd watching them play at the last installment of The Fest. "Who is the worst band of all time? Candlebox or Live?" The crowd's response leaned more in the direction of Candlebox, to which guitarist Zach Muljat angrily yelled back, "Are you kidding me??!"
I forgot to bring this up with the band later on, but I had no idea where their vehement gripes with Live came from. My only knowledge of them comes from that huge single they had in the mid-`90s, "Lightning Crashes." And frankly, it was pretty good, especially for alternative rock. Even now, recalling the melodies in my head, it seems quite all right to me. Candlebox really was so much worse.
I bring this up only because that was probably the only time Live has ever come up as a topic in my life since that stupidly big hit. And now, it's coming back up, because Manchester Orchestra frontman Andy Hull seriously sounds like Live singer Ed Kowalczyk in "I Was a Lid." And it's not a bad thing. At all. It makes sense, too, when you look at the endless alt-`90s comparisons their comrades Brand New have gotten in recent times; comparisons between Manchester and BN have run fairly rampant in the last two years, after all.
Mind you, this is a sore abandon of chronologically reviewing an album, since it's actually the second track on their newest offering, Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind. The EP really opens with "I Can Feel a Hot One," where twinkling guitars (think the intro of "Where Have You Been?") introduce us and Hull's cooing vocals come in nearly right away. It's a solid offering that somehow sounds simultaneously mopey and upbeat, a sort-of ballad that finds Hull making another casual Biblical reference: "Manna is a hell of a drug," he admits, "and I need a little more, I think." It's a pretty intriguing integration, needless to say.
The standout here, however, is the one other new song, the aforementioned and rather morose "I Was a Lid." Deliberate guitar strums bring us into the picture, with Hull beginning to sing hushedly 15 seconds in. Then there's a transition to splendidly tasteful handclaps and Hull becomes a bit more loose in his delivery. He only gets more and more strained as the full band kicks in and a huge buildup is constructed, full of fuzz and tenacity; ominous "ohhhh"s at the 3:30 mark are nearly bone-chilling, but the song doesn't end until another minute and change later. It's definitely in the upper echelon of the band's slowly growing song catalog.
The EP is filled out by some songs we've heard before, only in new environments. "Wolves at Night" is a take at WBRU-FM, a more minimal and restrained version that's quite compelling if you have the patience to just listen to the five-minute track unfold. "Badges and Badges" is a song by Hull's Right Away, Great Captain! side project, and here it's their take during a session with the famous Daytrotter website. It's just an acoustic solo take and it's not bad. "Sleeper 1972" is another one where it seems like just Hull, here live at The Loft in Atlanta.
The DVD features a documentary that spans about 45 minutes. While it doesn't reveal anything staggeringly new, it's a good, occasionally in-depth look at Hull's themes and meaning behind songs on I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child. It's also got a humorous bit about some their guitarist trying to remember some mystical movie he loved as a child.
The bonus features include a few pretty cool live videos (more minimal Hull stuff, the highlight naturally being "Sleeper 1972") and the official music videos for three songs ("Now That You're Home" is pretty rad).
As far as stopgap material goes, Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind provides a nice bit of material to holdover fans who wait patiently for the upcoming full-length, Mean Everything to Nothing.
src="/images/icons/review_mp3.gif" align="top" width="16" height="16" border="0">I Was a Lid
I Can Feel a Hot One