By: Jack Stein
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The Men are a four-piece from Brooklyn that is currently riding a wave of critical acclaim for their recently dropped sophomore LP, Open Your Heart. If the notion of a Brooklyn-based buzz band in 2012 conjures up images of the 500th dudes who are simply content to mess around with Pro Tools in a bedroom while conjuring up hazily nostalgic vibes, you’re forgiven. Such is the state of independent music that, when a band kicks serious unironic ass (using real live instrumentation, nonetheless!), we don’t know quite how to react. The Men are that band.
While the also-stellar LP Leave Home from last year was an unforgivingly caustic and noise-addled affair, Open Your Heart flexes some serious pop muscle while retaining the visceral thrill of unfiltered punk. Each track conjures a different touchstone, a different reference point for a band that’s unafraid to pull from their heroes while making this sound all their own. “Ex-Dreams” hurdles forward madly like vintage Sonic Youth, complete with ecstatic guitar squalls punctuating vocalist Chris Hansell’s verses. “Country Song” ambles along at a fittingly bucolic pace, the delay-heavy guitar peals winking in My Morning Jacket’s direction.
The incredible “Oscillation” (below) churns and seethes on a ridiculously hooky riff, recalling Television’s dueling dual guitar attack while injecting it with a dose of No Age’s art-damaged squall. When Hansell emerges at the five minute mark with the simple guttural plea “I want to know/what you have in store/I want to know/what’s next”, hovering above a landscape of blissful noise, you realize that you’re right there with him. Keep an eye on these guys.