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punk pop kansas city





Album review: Man Bear - Power Slop (EP)

(Photo by Chad Cogdill)
 
I am an absolute whore for woo-hoos. I’m pretty sure I always have been. I would assume it goes back to the steady diet of Oldies 95 I had growing up. Those two hooky syllables, three chords, a juice box and some chuggy guitar, and Zach is a happy boy. It is for this sole reason that “Rocket to Knowhere,” the opening track off Man Bear’s most recent EP Power Slop, surprisingly caught my ear.
 
I say surprisingly as I will admit I have not always been a fan of Man Bear. Their previous efforts (such as Feeling Kinda Lo(Fi) and Infinity Cat are absolutely fine and dandy in their own right, just were never this reviewer’s thing.
 
But Power Slop ironically shows a real escalation and tightness for the KC area trio. The songs are more intricately arranged and envisioned. The instrumentation is quirky, yet purposeful, varied and appealing. The performances seem taut and dutifully prepared. By the end of this review I found myself thinking “Man, they really do sound a lot like They Might Be Giants at times,” which happens to be one of my all-time favorite bands. So, much to the excitement of many of my friends that have always dug them, it seems as though I have been converted.
 
This lo-fi, five-song pop/punk effort comes in at just under 12 minutes. Fans of The ACBs’ most recent LP Little Leaves will really enjoy what Man Bear is offering here. The aforementioned opener powers through a quick ninety seconds with a Presidents of the United States of America straight beat groove, simple contrasting guitar work, and strains of forced, airy vocals. The choices of instrumentation in “Bass Revenge” really shimmer, the guitar work on the choruses especially. The band seems to have a good thing going pairing the stodgy acoustic guitar sound on one side with the more distorted, reverb-laden lead sounds of the other. It’s an age-old home studio trick, but Man Bear seems to have mastered it to great effect.
 
“Oh Well, Whatever” is quick slice of slightly off-kilter, high-energy pop punk, featuring a just-diverse-enough off-time riff structure (and another nod given for the effective use of woos). I appreciate their use, not abuse, of the all-powerful triplet. Dare I say that the last track “Fast Asleep at 10 PM” is a delightful throwback acoustic number reminiscent of a time where hair metal power ballads ruled the airwaves? I guess I just did.
 
They may call it Power Slop, but especially compared to their previous efforts, it is anything but. I am happy to see the sonic progress this band has made in a relatively short amount of time. Well done, Man Bear. Keep wooing in this direction.

--Zach Hodson

Zach Hodson is a monster. He once stole a grilled cheese sandwich from a 4-year-old girl at her birthday party. He will only juggle if you pay him. I hear he punched Slimer right in his fat, green face. He knows the secrets to free energy, but refuses to release them until "Saved by the Bell: Fortysomethings" begins production. He is also in Dolls on Fire and Drew Black & Dirty Electric, as well as contributing to various other Kansas City-based music, comedy, and art projects.
 
 
 
Alex Courtney of Man Bear will be playing an acoustic show next Thursday, December 19 at The Brick. Members of Bent Left, Dead Ven, Deco Auto, and Hipshot Killer will also be playing. Facebook event page.

 

 

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