Quirk-pop sextet Man Man return to form on new singles | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Quirk-pop sextet Man Man return to form on new singles


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Since they got their start in Philadelphia’s underground scene in the early 2000s, Los Angeles-based band Man Man have been an undeniably unique voice in off-the-wall rock ’n’ roll. Led by singer, songwriter, and pianist Ryan Kattner (aka Honus Honus), known for his idiosyncratic sing-scream vocal style, Man Man spent their first decade morphing from a group specializing in oddball Tom Waits-ian tunes with a vaudeville vibe into a decidedly polished pop ensemble with a broad approach. Over the years, Kattner has refined his raw, oft-shrieked vocals into a deep croon punctuated with yells and yelps for effect. Man Man’s most recent album, 2013’s eclectic On Oni Pond (Anti-), is a retro, groove-based collection based on the core duo of Kattner and drummer Christopher Powell (aka Pow Pow). Colored with a dozen other instruments—horns, strings, marimba, keyboards, backing vocals—it worms through 50s and 60s rock, synth-pop, doo-wop, dub, and even a ukulele ballad (“Deep Cover”). Following Kattner’s 2016 solo debut as Honus Honus and the 2017 sophomore album by Mister Heavenly (his collaboration with Nicholas Thorburn of Islands and Joe Plummer of Shins), Man Man are back this fall as a six-piece with a pair of new songs for Sub Pop’s Singles Club series. “Beached” is one of the band’s catchiest numbers to date, with upbeat melodies, reverbed garage-rock guitar front and center, and eccentric wordplay from Kattner about indifference in a world going to hell (“Hot to trot‚ born to rot / You’re livin’ it up / On the doomsday clock”). “Witch” is closer to classic Man Man, riding hard synth and horn grooves while Kattner and company get vocally quirky and lyrically silly, narrating a hallucinogenic walk in the park. As the group prepare to release their sixth LP, expect to hear these two tunes among a smattering of new jams on this highly entertaining monthlong U.S. tour.   v

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