What’s In the Bag?
When it seems that everything has already been done forwards, backwards and sideways, it’s an ever-growing challenge to produce something truly unconventional. Philadelphia’s Man Man seems closer than anyone of late with their remarkable sophomore offering Six Demon Bag.
Between their debut and Six Demon Bag, Man Man mastermind Honus Honus has assembled an entirely new cast to accompany his cacophony. Piano, strings, horns, kazoo, minimal guitar, various electric and acoustic effects and a hodgepodge of percussion create a musical whirlwind that’s chock full of grunts, chants, screams, yelps and just about every other sound the human voice can muster.
Overall, the album sounds like a jug band of monsters emerging from dark crevices to perform a range of eclectic musical outbursts, lullabies, and love songs. “Engwish Bwudd” contains a “Fe Fi Fo Fum” chorus along with yelling and explosion noises (courtesy of someone’s mouth) peppering the background. Lyrically, Honus paints some bizarre pictures with his gravelly whiskey-soaked vocal chords, but never fully dives off into the nonsensical deep-end of Captain Beefheart. On opening track “Feathers,” a soft waltzing piano is the only accompaniment to these legitimately heart-tugging lyrics: “She feels like/ a stranger has come in the night/ stolen her life/ left her with this.” The absurdity doesn’t take the back seat for long – on “Black Mission Goggles” we hear Honus invoke Noriega, cocaine and Brooklyn all in the same verse. Nasal falsetto takes the lead on “Push the Eagle’s Stomach,” just one of seemingly several characters that appear throughout the album.
Six Demon Bag flows with the energy of a horrific cabaret – the creatures contained within dance, spit and yelp between tranquil detours.