Manchester Orchestra – Mean Everything To Nothing (Favourite Gentlemen) 07/09/09

September 16, 2009 by  

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Guitar music has taken a battering of late, and I’m not only talking about the last six months. With the rise of revivalist garage rock and emo, interesting American rock music seemed all but a distant memory. But then there was The Kings of Leon. A band that amidst all the indie mediocrity and stagnant American stadium rock produced two great rock albums then topped that with a supposed genre defining album, Because of The Times. But, as is often the case, with success comes huge pressure and expectations, and ultimately records become harder to follow up, the result was Only By the Night, a bland turgid record which left American rock music once again limping off with its tale beneath its legs.

Funnily enough, that said band’s best musical friends Manchester Orchetsra could be the new saviours. Their second album, Mean Everyting To Nothing, which has already been released earlier this year and to great critical acclaim in the US , but it made very little impact commercially in the UK. But since when did any great album? With the right people now behind them they are getting the due attention their second album deserves

Like a sharp reminder of the greatness of Nirvana and Early Weezer , Mean Everyting To Nothing is a blistering mix of visceral guitar riffs and Lead Singer Hull’s raw guttural vocals. Lyrically Hull contemplates Death, God, Life and perhaps more prominently express an agitation with his band’s lack of recognition and struggle to make it in today’s industry. No more so than on ‘100 Dollars, at the start of the song he meekly complains’ Several Woman’s magazines 
Stacked up on top of a picture of me ‘ Yet by the end he is ranting at full volume ‘Iam Iam Fine, I just need one hundred Dollars’. This sentiment is backed up by earlier track ’ I’ve Got Friends’ where he again expresses his resentment towards the music industry, ‘I’ve got friends in all the right places, I know what they want, and I know they don’t want me to stay ‘ yelps Hull. All of this angst ridden outbursts are accompanied by simplistic riffs which ascend into powerful crescendos evoking memories of Nirvana at their powerful best. Thankfully, producer Joe Chiccarelli has been careful to leave the rawness of Hull’s vocals well alone and not to over polish the guitars, which gives the record it’s endearingly organic sound.

It’s not all shouting and loud guitars either. The second half of the record is a much more sombre collection of songs, which allow Hull to dwell on his own personal angst. ‘ I can Feel A Hot One’ and ‘The River’ are endearingly introspective songs which lyrically unravel Hull’s sate of mind and leave a long-lasting impression.

If there’s one thing music has lacked for the last 20 years, it’s definitely a decent, interesting and exciting American rock band. The kings of Leon Came close to readdressing the balance, but last year blew it. Hopefully their pals will fair a little better.

[Rating:4.5]

By Chris Cummins


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