The circus is back in town. And by the circus I mean the traveling ridiculousness that is Man Man—one of the most original, bizarre, inspired, and generally unfuckwithable bands to rest under the blanket genre of indie rock this decade. Refusing to rely on guitars and predictable navel-gazing, the troupe—led by Honus Honus, their own personal freakshow carnival barker—pounds, stomps, irks, squeals, yelps, and claps their way through each song, channeling every last ounce of collective energy they have, only to project it back, full force, upon the fortunate listener.
Raised in the shadows of a Tom Waits' junkyard, educated by a hoard of Eastern European gypsies, and holed up with Captain Beefheart in, well, wherever the hell that guy is, Man Man has a penchant for unorthadox flair. Their piano lines choppily rollick and waltz through the tracks and call-and-responses vocals are delivered by demonic-sounding children, while sousaphones, saxophones, xylophones, melodicas, and various other percussive instruments—including hands, shakers, pots, and pans—fill in the empty spaces. All the while Honus (x2) does his best to surrender himself completely over to his own id—singing about sex, women, death, werewolves, vampires, and nearly everything in between.
That is Man Man on record. Live, they are decked out in white outfits, face paint, plus (of course) a giant mustache or two. Onstage the Philadelphia band tends to succumb to their poppier stylings, bringing the collective party to those willing to enjoy it, though admittedly, not everyone will. Despite recently soundtracking an episode of Weeds and having their songs used in Nike commercials—and the fact that underneath all of the outlandishness there really are solid pop songs here—Man Man are not for the casual listener. It's a hobo freakshow, and unless you're willing to crawl through the swamp and get your knees a little dirty, chances are this may come off as nothing short of cacophony. But for those who find "Mustache, mustache, mustache, mustache, mustache" sung in what one assumes is a fake Hungarian(?) accent to be an acceptable chorus for a song, you may have just found your new favorite band.