Manchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to Nothing (Cover Artwork)

Manchester Orchestra

Manchester Orchestra: Mean Everything to NothingMean Everything to Nothing (2009)
Favorite Gentlemen / Canvasback

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

There seems to be two bands in the Brand New circle of friends that have received rather devastating critical acclaim while managing to hold no qualms about wearing their influences on flannel sleeves. One is Brand New themselves -- within the first three tracks of 2006's The Devil and God Are Ragin.
iTunes StoreAmazon

There seems to be two bands in the Brand New circle of friends that have received rather devastating critical acclaim while managing to hold no qualms about wearing their influences on flannel sleeves. One is Brand New themselves -- within the first three tracks of 2006's The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me, you could tell that Nirvana and Modest Mouse circa The Moon & Antarctica had a considerable effect on the songwriting. Brand New got away with it, however, because they were applying just enough of a unique sheen to these tracks, and writing absolutely fantastic songs in the process. It's easy to guess who the other band is that fits this ethos to a perfectly squared 'T.'

Manchester Orchestra launch Mean Everything to Nothing with "The Only One," spinning a web of fractured guitar strums and off-key, programmed hums, filtering the fuzz of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea through a pop scope. Despite frontman Andy Hull declaring he's "the only son of a bastard" who knows the bastard too, it's the most upbeat you'll hear the band throughout Everything's course.

Sporadic influences become markedly evident on various songs that follow, but what really stuns is just how great the songs themselves are. The sarcastic joy of "The Only One" is followed by more the blatantly tense and anxious "Shake It Out"; a heightening keyboard presses and Hull spastically grates his lines towards the bridge, which suddenly drops out to let Hull, emotionally reserved for a moment's notice, mutter "I felt the lord begin / to peel off all my skin. / And I felt the weight within / reveal a bigger mess / that you can't fix." He then howls in a more optimistic fashion, guitars rising around him to suit the mood, before finally cackling the chorus line a final time, seeming to finally, well...shake it out.

"I've Got Friends" bursts with a chorus that's too much fun to sing along with, while "Pride" takes it back to slow and grueling measures. It's the type of mildly bluesy, southern-affected dirge that Colour Revolt tried on last year's Plunder, Beg, and Curse -- except, Manchester have a much more effective stab at it here.

Echoing earlier sentiments, there's a persistent influence in "In My Teeth," to the point that Hull even joked (?) in a recent interview piece that the band nearly titled it "This Song Sounds Like Nirvana and I Don't Give a Shit." Still, with an opening strum and perfect slammed transition, it works, as does the facetious Biblical ploy ("Well Jesus is coming. / Better act our age / and clean everything / and make it seem...") and stomping, shouted, overwrought chorus ("We never really needed it anyway / Yeah, we never really needed it anyway").

"100 Dollars" is a mildly bizarre interlude of sorts, a two-minute narrative with Hull's verses backed by Anathallo's Erica Froman and a slight, sudden tantrum at the end. A full five-second silence follows it, but that's fine -- it's just giving more gravity to the start of Everything's second half, which begins with "I Can Feel a Hot One." Following the explosive "I Was a Lid" on last year's teaser EP/DVD Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind, "Hot One" was a bit overshadowed. However, its layered thoughts and musical flourishes make it a standout here, as it strides carefully and with a restraint that isn't often found on Everything.

The band don't find entirely much more closure with the rest of the album. "My Friend Marcus" is essentially a part 1 title track, telling of a friend that sleeps in the narrator's basement ("his father touched more than spirit / now he can hardly sleep") -- whether that's an actual father or a priest is up for debate, one guesses -- and later busting into a chorus howling the album name. The ideas on this section of the album seem a bit more jumbled and confused, but there's plenty of musically shining moments to make up for it, along with all those world-weary-isms Hull is bemoaning that are largely uncharacteristic for his age (22).

Confoundingly consistent and vividly varied, Mean Everything to Nothing easily surpasses Manchester's previous output and provides a stark album of contrasting moods, layered fervor and modestly orchestral flow. It does lose a slight spark after a few dedicated listens and adjustments are able to be made to the gravity-inducing dropout in "Shake It Out" or the heart-tightening grip of "I Can Feel a Hot One," but it remains an exciting and considerably accomplished effort. This only being the sophomore try and Hull barely drinking age, it's a little unnerving to think what they could even conceive later on.

Mean Everything to Nothing


People who liked this also liked:
The Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundBrand New - Deja EntenduBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Alkaline Trio - GoddamnitThe Clash - London CallingBrand New - DaisyRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyJawbreaker - Dear You

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
keithybobeefy (July 5, 2010)

Simply amazing.

RedElephant (May 25, 2009)

great album, the second half somewhat loses the energy of the first though.

oneborneveryminute (May 20, 2009)

Man O. is your straight up indie rock band. They pay a great homage to their influences and their local area by touring with friends (Kevin Devine, Color Revolt, Winston Audio, etc.)
This album is stellar!! I cannot say if it's better than 'I'm Like A Virgin..." but I know Pride's got my head banging every time I hear it and the guitar rif in I Can Feel a Hot One makes me wish I wrote something so simple.
If you have not checked Man O. out, do it right now. Your ears will thank you.

bathroom_surgery (May 20, 2009)

I wonder if the next Brand New album will have the lyrics in it, or will you have to send Jesse Lacey another $2

icapped2pac (May 19, 2009)

*2 songs

icapped2pac (May 19, 2009)

Well, I got songs in and all I can think is "THIS is what people are raving about?" I must be missing something. Sounds like it's influenced by a lot of shitty classic rock to me.

cuffer (May 19, 2009)

Can't wait till the new Christmas album!

HeresLookinAtYou (May 19, 2009)

Great album, great review.

SloaneDaley (May 19, 2009)

The Devil and God... felt like SDRE's Diary to me.

TheMarc (May 19, 2009)

Probably one of my top albums of the year so far. Great stuff!

andrewking (May 19, 2009)

Good review and good album. Score is for both.

Hey Matt, if you're interested in giving them a try, I'd go with either "I've Got Friends" or "Shake It Out" from this disc, or anything from their first one that isn't played on an acoustic guitar.

banal242 (May 19, 2009)

Uncomfortable video interview by Former Punknews Editor Scott Heisel with Andy Hall from Manchester, posted here for perpetuity.


Archangel (May 19, 2009)

"Jesus" sounds more like a b-side written around This Is a Long Drive, not The Moon and Antarctica.

Deadpan (May 19, 2009)

I'm only abut half way through tis album at the moment, but I'm digging it. The only other thing I have by these guys is I'm like a Virgin..., and this is a refreshing change. Andy's voice has definitely matured since then, deepened a bit and gotten harsher. I like it. I like the heavier direction they've taken.

mattramone (May 19, 2009)

Everything I've ever read about this band makes me want to hate them, yet I've not heard a single note. Pick a song for me, punknews readers, so that I may judge appropriately.

insinceredave (May 19, 2009)

Good review, i'll pick this up pretty soon

mikexdude (May 19, 2009)

Oh my... "Confoundingly consistent and vividly varied."

Cheesetits (May 19, 2009)

So yeah this is a good cd.

nocigar (May 19, 2009)

haha nice one mike. Anyways, I always enjoy Brian's reviews, and this one just adds on to that. Such an incredible album, really a lot of energy.

mikexdude (May 19, 2009)

Figures. Three stars, just like ALL YOUR reviews.

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go