Incorporating the whole sea chantey/carnival barker routine can either make or break your act in rock’n’roll. It has done wonders for the careers of Tom Waits, Procol Harum and Tod A. of Firewater/Cop Shoot Cop fame. And just when you thought this distinct, acquired sound could not evolve any further into the psyche of hipster USA, enter Man Man.
It’s clearly evident that enigmatic frontman Honus Honus and his merry troupe of audiophiles took excellent notes on Waits’ “Swordfishtrombones” and “The Best of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins” when you first listen to this band’s 2004 debut, “The Man in a Blue Turban With a Face.”
But who knew that Man Man were such old-school Mike Patton heads as well? On the new “Six Demon Bag,” you can clearly tell a well-worn cassette copy of the first Mr. Bungle album was on heavy rotation in somebody’s stereo during high school. Songs like “Young Einstein on the Beach,” “Hot Bat” and “Fishstick Gumbo” could perfectly segue out of Bungle’s “Travolta” or even “Desert Search for Techno Allah” on some killer mix tape that has yet to be made.
And much like their avant-metal counterparts, Man Man exhibits a varied flair for macabre theatrics that includes a veritable world’s fair of chaos and creation, be it the Nick Cave-gone-gypsy dramatics of the wonderful opening cut “Feathers” or the fractured gutter swing of “Van Helsing Boombox.” — Ron Hart