Feb 20, 2023
By Michael James Hall
Back in 2012, East Coast garage rockers The Men dropped the rowdy, ramshackle, Replacements rocker Open Your Heart, a breakthrough record of sorts. It saw them stray from their post-punk beginnings and into more melodic territory which they’ve been exploring to varying reward ever since.
Given a title that personifies its pinball pace and cacophonous clatter, New York City sees the Brooklyn four-piece capture a rough and ready set of songs that recall both New York Dolls (check drunk and disorderly opener “Hard Livin”’) and Ramones (the frantic “God Bless The USA”). They avoid pure pastiche by delivering this chugging punk with real aggression, intensity, and soul. Recorded live to tape, it’s as DIY as they come and displays both the virtues and pitfalls of that approach.
“Echo” is an adrenalized scream of a song, while “Eye” throws shadows of AC/DC blues backlit by throat-tearing howls and guttural mutterings. It’s their previous pop sensibility that seems to be absent here at points though, perhaps sacrificed for the purity of this garage band sound. Happily it rears its head with a cheeky grin on the ’60s-tinged “Eternal Recurrence” and the countrified ballad “Anyway I Find You,” which stands as a beautiful, bedraggled highlight.
There’s some straight-up sludge here like “Round the Corner” and the drag-racing surge of “Through the Night,” while “River Flows” proves an uninspired closer. New York City, then, captures all the grit and grime you’d want from The Men, but comes up short compared to their transcendent, melodic best. (www.wearethemen.blogspot.com)
Author rating: 6.5/10
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