Man Man Is Weird. Let’s Get Weird With On Oni Pond
There really is no other way to say it: Man Man is a weird band. Their records are a soundtrack to your daydreams and nightmares. They paint their face making their shows more like a circus. You’ll fall so hard for their music, and there’s no way to even explain it. They tie you up and hold you hostage. Chaotic, complex and twisted, they are Man Man.
See them live and you’ll see the spectrum in the crowd – punks with patches on their denim and hippies with flowing skirts. Their music is experimental: tight and loose at the same time. Man Man loves people of dissonance, people who like the Fender Rhodes in the front and people who like eccentric, curious and honest songwriting. And, we the people, love Man Man.
This Philadelphia band has been around just shy of a decade. On Oni Pond is the band’s fifth record and their third on ANTI-. Lead singer, on piano, Rhodes Piano and songwriting mastermind, Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) leads his band: Organ Freeman, Chang Wang, Critter Cat and the band’s long-time drummer, Pow Pow (Christopher Powell).
Usually writing alone, Honus wrote On Oni Pond with Pow Pow and producer Mike Mogis. And it shows. The record’s natural state is percussive, moving in every way possible: sideways, up and down, telling lateral stories, sometimes moving backwards and of course, in loop-de-loops.
On Oni Pond showcases Man Man’s miscellaneous expertise. The dub on “King Shiv” will have you neck dancing while subliminally questioning your reason for being. “Loot My Body” will remind you why you showed up to a Man Man record in the first place, “feel free to loot my body/just take whatever you want.” And when the horns come in at the end, they’ll jerk your knees to sway. [Hear it below.]
“Deep Cover” will romance you. Finding its’ way into movie soundtracks (I’m sure of it) with layered vocals and ukulele, the simplicity of this song shows and tells. Man Man will rattle your bones on one track and break your heart on the next: “Deep cover/it’s not a place/it’s a state of mind/to have your heart go incognito/and hide away for a while.”
“Pyramids” is everything but triangular. It’s a hodgepodge and it will have your shoulders rolling. “Curtains” will show you that Honus will do what he wants, including writing a charming piano solo with a story that makes nonsense seem right: “caved in/hibernated/waiting for the sun/come along/dry you out/and hang you from a cloud.” And “Sparks” has surf style guitar work. [Hear it below.]
“Fangs” will spin you around while the horns jab at you and the drums weave up and down your spine. And if that doesn’t do it for you, the story will leave you feeling eerie: “She hides her fangs/behind her back/she slips/the nail when no one’s watching/pretends to laugh/at the box she’s been born in/she hides her fangs out in the open.”
A separate entity, almost entirely, from rock music, Man Man is in a class of their own and On Oni Pond is proof. Man Man will yell at you to follow your dreams, they’ll tell you to be who you want to be, to be sure of yourself. They’ll remind you that “If you wont reinvent yourself/You cant circumvent yourself.” And it’s as simple as that.
And as if all that wasn’t enough, Honus even writes a perfectly dissonant radio single. “Hold On” he tells us. “Hold onto your heart/never let nobody drag it under/hold onto your heart/even when your body’s bitter.”
On Oni Pond swallows you up, spits you out and sets you free. Just the way Honus would’ve wanted it. They are introspective and innovative. Man Man has made it into a Life Fantastic. And lucky us, it just keeps getting better.
[Brought to you by Spectrum Culture!]