Brooklyn punks The Men make new sounds in post-post-hardcore 

The Sound of The Men

The Sound of The Men

Up to and including their 2011 breakthrough Leave Home, The Men's output resembled a planet's birth: clouds of hissing feedback and molten nuggets of riff swirled in breakneck rhythmic orbits, outlining a melody somewhere underneath. On 2012's Open Your Heart, the vapors suddenly coalesced into verses and choruses, recalling SST-era Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth with their neat balance of pop sensibility and punk fury. On March 7, The Men released New Moon, whose first half prominently features acoustic guitars. So ... what's going on?

In 2011, original bassist Chris Hansell, responsible for some of the group's grittiest material, couldn't commit to touring and was fired. Ben Greenberg, a prominent Brooklyn engineer who had worked with The Men previously, joined the band full time, and the group began to chart course under the influence of a new hero: Tom Petty.

Though not punks themselves, Petty and his Heartbreakers brought punk squall and attitude into the mainstream, and they saw their snarling take on old-school rock and soul rocket to the top of the charts with their own breakthrough, Damn the Torpedoes. Petty's songs had an immediacy and gravity that his contemporaries sometimes lost in searching for genre-specific hits — something that resonates strongly with The Men as their catalog evolves. "It's so often that bands have to have a 'sound,' " The Men's Nick Chiericozzi told The Village Voice in February. "We're not afraid to write one weird song that might be a lot different than the record before — or even the song before. All of it comes from the same place. That's what The Men are."

Armed with that sentiment, the group emerged from a cabin in the Catskills with New Moon, a dozen tracks balancing adult contemplation and kinetic rock. Americana-flavored ballads like "Half Angel Half Light" reveal secret passages into hidden rooms, lined with wah-wah wails and growling bass. By the record's midpoint, "The Brass," the old black howl makes a return, building to a cacophonous climax on closer "Supermoon." There's no telling where the group may go next, but their track record suggests it will be somewhere exciting and new.

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

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