Unsacred Hearts / Man In Gray - Split 7-inch (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Unsacred Hearts / Man In Gray

Split 7-inch (2005)

Serious Business

Not being from New York it often feels like I'm the only person in existence aware of the Unsacred Hearts and, by extension, Man In Gray. The Hearts released a jumpin' little self-titled EP in 2004, completely restoring my faith that unsolicited, unknown promo mailings may conceal gems. Across seven tracks they proved themselves star students of their `70s forbearers, channelling Richard Hell, the Heartbreakers and others in a collection of tightly wound garage songs about nothing more or less than the subject of rock'n'roll itself. The band's tour dates, never much more than local, indicate a group that's on top of the world in their own region and doomed to obscurity the next town over: Guys with day jobs and so much potential.

Check the Unsacred Hearts' show dates, website, label or anything else for more than a few seconds and you'll stumble across Man In Gray. From my outsider perspective, it really does look like they're each other's biggest fans. Of course, I've skewered things, as Man In Gray comes armed with more than the usual amount of press buzz. It's well founded, too. The female-fronted band calls to mind Call The Doctor-era Sleater-Kinney crossed with some New York no-wave, particularly on their stomping opener "Thirty-Six." "Hoboken" takes a more traditional punk rock approach and it proves how closely aligned these two bands are in spirit.

The Unsacred Hearts ask "Do You Like Spy Movies?" on their opener, a lyrically odd track that's one of the more swaggering, attitude-driven tunes they've ever put together. "The End Is Near" seems to follow the instrumental pattern established with "I Was Born To Be Polite & Kind," the lead track from their prior EP. While it's too early to say if this is the band's "standard" song type (and if it is, it's a good standard), it does show that they're playing to their strengths.

Here you find two young, lively bands well schooled in some quality influences. That they happen to have gestated in the same scene makes this a great little artefact of what will one day be seen as "the early years." I expect, no, demand that we see celebrated full-lengths from both these bands in the next year. I'll be very surprised otherwise.