Man Man – ‘Dream Hunting in the Valley of the In-Between’
THE GOOD: Indie rock outfit Man Man returns from a seven-year hiatus with its sixth.
THE BAD: “Dream Hunting” wanders during its second half but remains a strong comeback.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The band was always the brainchild of singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Honus Honus (real name Ryan Kattner). Guiding his band, the man brings on an eclectic mix of indie pop, prog rock and a hint of biting sarcasm. For the uninitiated, think Modest Mouse with less traditional instrumentation.
“Dream Hunting” is a grand opening statement for Man Man’s second coming. The first half shows off Honus’ pop skills; catchy but slightly weird pieces such as “On the Mend” and “Lonely Beuys” are unpredictable yet focused. The garish and goofy “Goat” then transitions us into the album’s more experimental second half. Honus stretches out stylistically, offering up tracks that don’t always work but display a wonderfully reckless spirit that knows no bounds. The swaying “If Only” is a personal fave.
BUY IT?: Yeah.
Perfume Genius – ‘Set My Heart on Fire Immediately’
THE GOOD: Singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas (stage name Perfume Genius) redefines himself yet again on an amazing fifth.
THE BAD: Nothing.
THE NITTY GRITTY: No two Perfume Genius records are alike; each one is memorable in its own way. With “Heart on Fire,” Hadreas found inspiration working with choreographer Kate Wallich on an entirely different project. However, he incorporated themes inherent with dance into his writing process, causing the new songs to convey a flair for the dramatic.
You can immediately hear these changes during stirring opener “Whole Life,” a song that sounds like a cross between Antony and the Johnsons and a classic Roy Orbison ballad. From there, we delight in the straight ’60s pop flourishes of “Without You,” the soft drone permeating “Moonbend” and the dissonant yet still melodic “Nothing at All.” Hadreas’ voice is powerful throughout the entire affair, even the more delicate bits. And the record keeps us guessing at every turn. It’s a journey filled with both hope and heartbreak.
BUY IT?: Oh yes.
The Lemon Twigs – ‘Songs for the General Public’
THE GOOD: Long Island indie rockers the Lemon Twigs come back with a fun and dramatic third.
THE BAD: Nah.
THE NITTY GRITTY: The band is actually brothers Brian and Michael D’Addario. Both are vocalists and multi-instrumentalists. The two also sharpened their skills as children working on Broadway and in films. Now as adults, they’ve been kicking around the rock world since 2014.
“General Public” plays like a ’70s compilation of glam rock, sharp pop and bubble gum. You can hear Big Star during the rockers, Bay City Rollers in the ballads and Todd Rundgren painting the weird but catchy bits. The album is a lot to take in, with over-the-top arrangements, shades of the baroque, whirring synths, chunky guitars and melodramatic vocal performances all playing a huge part in bringing the music to life.
There’s no denying this stuff is both highly infectious and vivacious. The Lemon Twigs want to show you an amusing and memorable evening. Mission accomplished.
BUY IT?: I would.