If you’re going to Austin this week for either SXSW or Springsteen NerdCon, allow me to recommend a band while you’re there. Mannequin Men are a kickass four-piece from Chicago and they’re playing a quintet of shows during the festival (listed below). Maybe you can check out one of their sets in between taco benders and the four hours a day you’ll be discussing Springsteen shows, albums, and other minutiae whether you want to or not. Seriously, you’re gonna need to plan around a LOT of white guy high fives.
Mannequin Men released their fourth album, Mannequin Men, late last year on Addenda Records. It was one of my favorite albums of 2011 and actually a significant departure for them in the sense that instead of just being a swagger-and-riffs rock band (which I have no problem with) they added open chords and melodies to the swagger and riffs. To wit:
Mannequin Men – Hobby Girl
Salzer’s Records, Ventura, CA
August 31, 2009
“It was a song that I had written and brought to the band with kind of no idea what to do (vocally). Seth took the idea and ran with it … and it was awesome. That was a turning point. That song’s very uncool. It’s not fast, it’s not noisy, it’s just a straight up vocal.”
–Kevin Richard in Chicagoist
Unless my ears deceive me, Bohn actually sings lead on four of Mannequin Men’s twelve tracks, plus adds harmony on a couple songs. His expanded vocal presence gives the band a new dynamic to play with, and why not? Bohn has a cool voice that contrasts nicely with Richard’s snotty whine. It reminds me of my beloved Neckbones to some degree, who had Tyler Keith on swagger mic and both Dave Boyer and/or Forrest Hewes on “straight up vocal.”
Mannequin Men – Chopper
Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia
July 16, 2009
Having established the sensitive singer/songwriter motif, let us return to the rock foundation, and what you’ll likely get in Austin. I like “Chopper” because it hints at Pixies with that quasi-surf sound, not to mention Richard’s Black Francis-esque (in a good way) vocal style. “Chopper” is a cool song, maybe nothing revolutionary, but gimme a solid two guitar, bass, drums lineup that knows how to build gradually to sweet guitar noise anytime. And if they wanna drop the “I Wanna Be Your Dog” riff, I’m not gonna complain. I’m old-fashioned that way.
Mannequin Men – (Us And) All Of Our Friends Are So Messed Up
Beachland Tavern, Cleveland
July 11, 2009
Much respect to the Mannequins for resurrecting this old-timey Clevelandia chestnut. “Messed Up” is a 1988 single and inglorious basterd anthem by The Pagans. I better see YouTube clips of you drunk assholes singing along with this at SX. Speaking of which, here is the M2 schedule.
MANNEQUIN MEN @ SXSW
Wed Mar 14 – 3:00PM @ Beerland: Can’t Stop The Bleeding Party
Wed Mar 14 – 10:00PM inside @ Spiderhouse: Get Bent/Whoops Baby Party
Thu Mar 15 – 4:30PM @ Longbranch Inn: No theme, just get drunk
Thu Mar 15 – 8:00PM @ Trailer Space: Cake Shop Party
[UPDATED] Fri Mar 16 – 8:45PM @ Cheer Up Charlies: CMR TYZ Party
If you’re driven mad by Bossmania, consider a road trip to Laredo where Mannequin Men are inexplicably booked on Saturday night, not only the craziest night of SXSW, but also St. Patty’s Day.
Sat Mar 17 – Laredo, TX @ Old No 2 Cafe & Grill
Oh wait, just checked the internet and that’s the same weekend Laredo is hosting the national midget hooker convention. Why was I worried on their behalf? Mannequin Men obviously know what they’re doing.
I recommend following @mannequinmen and @AddendaRecs on Twitter in time for SXSW. Same with Facebook. And on a more general note, when in Austin, don’t forget your cellphone charger and remember to hydrate. You’re gonna burn a lot of energy involuntarily fistpumping.