Even with AI and Google search getting better at discerning what you’re looking for on the great World Wide Web, a band named The Men is not at all SEO friendly. It’s also not exactly the most, uh, woke name ever. What with men being on the decline according to alpha males and incels everywhere. Though even if you’re a person who finds their moniker problematic, you can’t help but appreciate a band so absolutely straight-forward and doing the thing that men like me just enjoy the hell out of. Because, yeah, I’m an alpha male. If alpha stands for “amazing!”
Playing what one could only call gutter garage rock, The Men approach rock ‘n’ roll in an old-fashioned, ballz-to-the-wall tradition. They’re apparently a Brooklyn band (as if the title of the album, New York City, wasn’t enough of a give away), though they don’t sound even a smidge like what you’d expect a Brooklyn band in 2023 to sound like. Perhaps it’s because they’ve been around since 2008, but even then they don’t have even a note of shoegaze or bleep-bloop bedroom nonsense about them. Nope, they are dirty rock ‘n’ roll. From note one it reminded me of the 2002Rye Coalition album, On Top. A reference like one person will get, but it’s to say that this shit ain’t new, but it’s missed in the modern era. Rye Coalition are from New Jersey, though they may as well have been from Detroit. Or Chicago. Or some place that wasn’t on the East Coast, and certainly wasn’t Brooklyn. What with their sloppy, post-hardcore, garage punk thing. Same goes for The Men.
In terms of musicality, I’m no theoretical scholar, but I’m pretty sure a good number of their tunes are basically three chords and a cloud of dust. Not unlike the Ramones, they take what feel like some familiar 1950s rock progressions and licks, add what feels like grime and booze and just belt through it. Especially on tracks like “God Bless the USA.” Which is nostalgic to that period most likely in a tongue-in-cheek way. Their band is called The Men, after all. In other words, none of the ten songs on this album are going to break much new ground. But you could definitely do worse fishtailing your Camaro in the school parking lot while blasting this record. It almost demands a black t-shirt and some hair grease. Granted, it doesn’t have any of the sheen of fellow garage rockers White Reaper mid-career oeuvre, nor the melodies and bounce of The White Stripes, but it treads that nice middle ground between traditional rock music and something a little edgier that isn’t gimmicky just for gimmick’s sake. As if The Hives were born in the US and had little-to-no ambition and loved Wild Turkey just a bit too much.