Man Man - Six Demon Bag (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Man Man

Six Demon Bag (2006)

Ace Fu

My bro Claudio told me this shit's like a young Tom Waits. I told him that when I wanted to listen to a young Tom Waits, I listened to young Tom Waits. Whatevs, brah. I can hear what he's sayin', though, 'cause the first few notes are a "spooky cabaret waltz" piano with layered man vocals, emulating that Blue Valentine-era Waits, which I dig on, yo, 'cause Romeo IS bleedin'. And when the rest of the band starts kickin' in, it's obvious that they enjoy riding the new Waits' circus music obsession tip. The lyrics just cement it: "Fi fi fo fo, I smell the blood of an English man," the first part growled, the second part falsettoed.

"Banana Ghost" is another Waits-y run complete with odd cowbells and hammer-on-anvil type percussion with limited acoustic guitar and even a low-key jazz electric solo. It's not until track three, "Young Einstein on the Beach," do Man Man really show that they've got more to offer than complete emulation. They bring out some screamy stuff over a four-on-the-floor bass drum and spazzy synth, marking a fascination with noise and grind.

The rest of the album could have been lifted easily off of Alice or Real Gone, with original sounders like the bluegrass-y "Spider Cider" and the funky "Push the Eagle's Stomach" being few and far between. The variety on this album is pleasant, as is the ever-changing instrumentation that keeps me interested. Perhaps this hunk-o-shiny plasic would be the perfect background noise fer a Halloween party or somthin', but I just an't groovin' too hard on it as a hole.

Maybe I'm prejudiced, but derivative groups only work when the group being derived from just ain't that special (see: the Ramones vs. Screeching Weasel). What makes Señor Waits so great is his originality, forging into new territory and culture and all that shizz-nat before anybody else had done befo'. When that element is missing, then they jes' an't no way I done gone be listenin' to it fer long.

Or fuck, what do I know? Maybe I'll pull a Lester and will be hailing this band as the new Yardbirds, shit, what do I know?