Archive by Author

The Wanderer: Dirty Beaches and Rock Iconography

8 Feb

In underground music, in spite of insisting that things like back-stories and personae are stupid and that music should be all about the music, man, most of us rock fans are suckers for iconography. It’s what separates the Ramones from the Wipers, the Strokes from A.R.E. Weapons, the notable faces from any culture or subculture from the undervalued artists and also-rans. Kurt Cobain used it to his advantage and became the biggest rock star in the world by pretending it was the very thing he didn’t want. Stephen Malkmus’ persona came from slight shrugs and Delphic lyrics, eventually becoming a slacker poster boy in the process. Even if you feign not giving a shit hard enough, you can become an icon from it. Your personality is turned into your persona, it goes the long way around.

Others have made their rock star careers much simpler by just plucking the best fruit from the trees of culture, combining many elements– including their own experiences– and fusing them together in order to cultivate an image that they see fit enough for their type of performances. 50’s iconography started to pop up in little corners of music in 2011, white t-shirts and sock hop dresses rippling in the wind down a long stretch of highway. It was an era hardly tapped by the preservationists of culture up to this point– except during the seventies, with Happy Days appropriating the fifties and early American punk nicking the aesthetic of surf culture and then feeding it back to them in short, distorted, provocative blasts– as the four decades that come after it have been endlessly mined for style and inspiration. I’m not exactly complaining that people had to live through post-punk two separate times; I’m just saying black fades in the laundry when you wash it too often.

The 2011 appropriation of 50s culture seemed fresh because it’s been a while since the last time anybody’s bothered to swipe cues from it. And out of the people who pinched a few tricks from the era, no artist did it with as much panache and creativity as Alex Zhang Hungtai, who records under the name Dirty Beaches. Continue reading

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The First-Annual Parks and Recreation Power Rankings!

30 Dec

Let me tell you something everybody already knows but seems afraid to say: Parks and Recreation is the best sitcom on television.

Anchored by the best ensemble cast since Arrested Development and led by a showrunner who wrote for The Office back when it was actually funny, the town of Pawnee, Indiana is coming up on Springfield for title of “best use of an entire community in a television series.” Its motto is “First in friendship, fourth in obesity,” its most beloved public figure was a 25-year-old mini horse with diabetes, whose funeral rivaled Prince William’s wedding ceremony in terms of pomp.

Save for the final season of Friday Night Lights and the penultimate season of Breaking Bad, you’d be hard-pressed to find a show that had a better 2011 than Parks and Rec. Season 3 rescued itself from the chopping block, suffering both a shortened order and a stint in mid-season purgatory to become pretty close to a mainstream critical darling. With the relatively new acquisition of Rob Lowe and Adam Scott, the Parks team bolstered their cast and hit their stride in their third season. Season 4 jumped that hurdle in its first ten episodes, currently enjoying a run as not only the best season of an already great show, but one of the best seasons of television any sitcom has had in years.

To celebrate Parks and Recreation’s banner year, Man-Size has decided to tally the contributions of the show’s characters, highlighting the ten of them who performed the best in 2011. And don’t forget to grab an Entertainment 720 gift bag (complete with fedora!) on the way out. Continue reading

Man-Size’s 20 Records from 2010 You Must Hear Now!

23 Aug

You know how everyone seems to have that “cool friend” who always recommends the best records? The one who you occasionally go to visit, just so you can file through their record collection and find your next favorite band? Well, we here at Man-Size want to be that friend for you; we want to help you discover some pretty amazing bands and artists, whether old or new. And to gain your trust, our music staff has compiled a list of the best music to come out this year so far, in hopes that you find your new favorite record. So, enjoy this list we put together, and we’re sorry for not inviting you into our homes. We only do that after the third date.

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Allo Darlin’ – Allo Darlin’ (Fortuna Pop!)
Allo Darlin’s self-titled debut is probably the most excited i’ve gotten about the cutesier side of indiepop in quite some time. Yes there are ukeleles and yeah, the melodies are beyond sugary-sweet, but these are some seriously good songs. Each and every one of them feels like a soundtrack to a different moment of my summer and that fact alone should cement it into my top five. — Matthew Edwards Continue reading

Man-Size Band of the Month, August 2010: Frankie Rose and the Outs

9 Aug

If you don’t recognize the name Frankie Rose, chances are you’ve at least encountered her work. As a founding member of Vivian Girls (she’s the one who came up with the name, coined after the transgender heroines created by outsider artist Henry Darger), Rose penned the band’s most well-liked tune to date, “Where Do You Run To”. Shortly after Vivian Girls ascended to the top of the lo-fi heap– not to mention spearheading the girl-group-punk movement that’s been in vogue for the past couple of years– Rose jumped ship to play drums for the excellent (and massively unheralded) Crystal Stilts, from which she briefly joined the hotly-tipped California girl-group-punk band Dum Dum Girls. With such a stellar resume already under her belt, it would be a fool’s bet to think her solo debut wouldn’t match the output of her previous gigs.

Stepping from behind the drum kit to form Frankie Rose and the Outs, Rose puts her songwriting skills to good use immediately, starting with the alluring and slow-burning opener “Hollow Life”, with its humming organs and spine-tingling harmonies. From the outset, it’s clear that Rose knows her shit, whether it’s taking in the influence of beloved noise-poppers Black Tambourine on “Girlfriend Island” or offering a shimmering cover of Arthur Russell’s “You Can Make Me Feel Bad”, but it’s on songs like the driving “Candy” or tension-building closer “Save Me” where Rose comes into her own as a songwriter, proving that, as she did with the handful of bands she has played for, that she can literally go anywhere with her talent.

Frankie Rose and the Outs will be released on Slumberland Records September 21st.