Show Review: The Men @ Red7 (6/30)

We knew what we were in for. We saw it coming. We ignored the warning signs. I was heading into my third night of shows in a row, fourth in five days. Things were escalating. Lower Dens -> Howard Jones -> Nada Surf -> The Men. After seeing their sets during SxSW, we knew we had to be at Red7 to see The Men. They made the 2012 top albums so far list, what kind of music-writer-types would we be if we passed up seeing one of our favorites?

Cruddy, Creamers and Destruction Unit opened.

I have been chewing on this review in my brain since the show and I think I have boiled down for you. Click through, thoughts and pics after the break…

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BGray’s SxSW Reflection

I had my camera. I took almost 4,000 pictures. That seemed like a lot, but once I factored in the number of bands, the odd things that have to be documented, the friends gathering for shenanigans and the eight long days involved, it really wasn’t surprising. I haven’t done the final tally, but it would be fair to say that I saw part of a set from around seventy bands.

It is my turn to give a rundown on bests and worsts of The Conference. The many highs were tempered by very few lows. I chased that BUZZ that drives the relevant music fan. My summary will be a little different because I did the whole damn thing; twelve movies, several Interactive and film panels and of course all the music.

So, plenty on the movies, panels and bands and a flurry of pics to accompany all that 411 after the break…

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RayRay’s SXSW Reflection

Everyone has a love/hate relationship with SXSW.  We’re all so happy at the beginning of the week only to hate life come Monday.  We here at ATH want to provide some recaps from our week of music and we’ll be doing that with some personal reflections from each member of our staff.  Follow the jump for more from me.

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The Men – Open Your Heart

Rating: ★★★★½

2012 has been a really good year for rock n’ roll so far, and The Men aim to keep that spirit up! Their third LP, Open Your Heart (out now on Sacred Bones Records) is filled with pummeling rock that begs to be classified.  Is it punk? Hardcore? Maybe post-punk? Truth is, there’s no way you can really label everything they’ve done here, crafting an album that fits into all the above categories, yet never stays in one place for too long.

“Turn It Around” opens up the record in furious fashion, if you just wait ten seconds.  From there, the sound kicking out of your stereo will surely have you pumping your fists in the air.  Perhaps what’s the most interesting is that the group fills their songs with elements of classic rock, they just play it faster than everyone else around.  The Men will keep this spirit up with “Animal,” a song that has a bit more of a growl to it.  You can see remnants of New York Dolls (it can’t just be me), only with a heavier element–though it’s often balanced with a female backing vocal track.  From the get-go, you’re getting kicked in the mouth, and you’ll happily offer up a toothless smile while you rock along.

But, what makes Open Your Heart worthy of repeated listens revolves around the band’s ability to sort of play with more than one formula, while still maintaing their own identity.  For just a moment, albeit a long one, you get “Country Song” and “Oscillation,” two sprawling instrumental tracks that span over 12 minutes in length (when combined). It’s no wonder that their bio mentions allusions to Thurston Moore, although they don’t seem as discordant in their style.  It’s a nice moment for you to pause and reflect.  Yep, this album still rules.

And then we’re off again, with the soaring gang vocal moment you’ll find on “Please Don’t Go Away.”  Stylistically, you can see some resemblance to noisier indie bands like Dirty on Purpose, with The Men not afraid to add elements of melody all the while pounding away.  Throwing this track in the middle of the album provides that perfect conundrum, yet again illustrating a group who’re willing to throw all their influences into their songwriting. “Candy” is yet another such track; it’s almost a country ballad.  Even if it seems unexpected, it’s tied into the album perfectly, using a seemingly lo-fi recording to hold true to the band’s form. For the rest of the album, and really for its entirety, the band go back and forth between sounds, finishing with “Ex-Dreams,” a tune that’s unified by all the band’s possible nostalgic nods.

Open Your Heart might just be a record that we’ll look back on years from now, grateful that someone wrote it.  At times it’s intense, yet still has points where you can sit back and absorb the goings-on rather than have them browbeat you.  The Men have concocted their own formula for writing a record, and it might just be a lasting formula more bands look to in the future. You can be fast and loud, but you can throw that slow jam in there just for kicks–if you execute it like this, we’re all going to love it.


Download:The Men – Open Your Heart [MP3]

Show Preview: The Men @ Emos (9/1)

Date Thursday, Sept. 1st
Location Emos
Doors 900p
Tickets $8 from Ticketweb

This year I seem to be in the mood to really rock, or at least to mildly rock, in so much as I just can’t go full-on metal.  That being said, one of the band’s I’ve really enjoyed is NY’s The Men (not to be confused with the Le Tigre side-project).  They’ll be bringing their bit of raucous noise our way in support of their latest album Leave Home, which came out earlier this year on Sacred Bones. Also, another excellent band on the bill is Grave Babies, who have just put out a nice little 7″ by our dear friends over at Hardly Art.  As the season begins to really pick up steam for rock n’ roll, this is just as good a place as any to get your rocks on.


Download: The Men – Bataille [MP3]

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