Man Man

Six Demon Bag

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Subjects of huge buzz at South by Southwest 2005 for their circus-of-insanity live show, Philly's Man Man comes across like Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart collaborating on a klezmer-influenced soundtrack to your scariest nightmare about killer clowns. The stripped-down opening track on their sophomore LP, "Feathers," almost borders on accessible, with a simple waltz-time saloon piano and multi-tracked vocals that sound about one whiskey shy of a drunken sea shanty. But by the time you get to track two, "Engrish Bwudd," the band has clearly given in to the temptation of overindulgence, with the whoops, wails, hollers, and growls of a musical madman singing "fee, fi, fo, fum" complemented by falsetto counterparts squealing "I smell the blood of an Englishman." It only gets weirder from there, with all manner of unusual instruments, discordant cacophony, and outlandish shrieking that'd make the Boredoms sit up and take notice, and please-quiet-the-voices-in-my-head psychotic freak-outs all finding their place in Man Man's alternate universe musical reality. Most of this stuff is just too damn weird for all but the most experimental music listener, but when the band reigns in its more outlandish tendencies on tunes like the almost poetic "Skin Tension" and the chugging "Black Mission Goggles," you get the sense there are some fine songwriters lurking beneath all the kitchen-sink craziness.

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