Saturday, 19 May 2012

Review of Die Mannequin's EP Danceland

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to be writing more about music in the form of concert and album reviews. There are a couple reasons for this. One, I have a shitload of new audio gear I want to break in (that reminds me, I should write a post about all the toys I’ve acquired in the last month). Two, I want to get my blog going again.  Three, I’ve come across a bunch of new music. Other than my usual music sources such as XM Radio, exfm, and Slacker, I was fortunate enough to have music industry expert Eric Alper send me some new material (Follow him on Twitter at @ThatEricAlper). Now I don’t know Eric personally but one thing I do know is that he is a chain Tweeter.  He is so prolific that his Twitter account is like a constant live-stream of the music industry.
One band Eric sent my way was Die Mannequin with their soon-to-be released EP Danceland.  Die Mannequin is a Toronto band fronted by lead singer and guitarist Caroline Kawa, better known as Care Failure. [I know, awesome name isn’t it?]  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a soft spot for bands fronted by women.  You can imagine how this was a no-brainer for me.  A Canadian band with a female lead vocalist that plays guitar is something right up my alley.
The record Danceland is about 28 minutes in length, definitely long for an EP. In fact, it’s as long as Weezer’s Green Album.   I was not expecting the EP to sound so ripe but after doing some research on the band I wasn’t surprised.  Die Mannequin had released a full Studio album called FINO + BLEED in 2009 as well as two other EPs.  Add that to the fact that some tracks on Danceland were recorded for Bruce McDonald’s film Hard Core Logo 2, featuring Care Failure and Die Mannequin, and you realize that this band has some experience under their belt.  Too bad I hadn’t discovered Die Mannequin earlier.  I’m not familiar with their earlier material but I will give it a listen as soon as I get my hands on it.  That’s a task I will add to my to-do list.
I listened to the Danceland EP about 10-15 times before putting my opinions down on paper. One of the first things I do when I listen to new music is try to find similarities to music I'm familiar with.  In this case I was immediately reminded of Coheed and Cambria.  Also, the semi-androgynous vocals remind me of those of Silversun Pickups’ Brian Aubert.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a compliment.  Many people I know initially thought the lead singer of Silversun Pickups was a girl.  The similarity is apparent in the second track of Danceland, Candide, which happens to be my favourite song on the record.  Candide was on the FINO + BLEED album but I think they put it on the EP with the intention of turning it into a single.  Oh Yeah.  Do not think for a moment that Danceland is a dance album.  Danceland is actually the place where Hard Core Logo 2 was filmed.  Die Mannequin is definitely punk rock with elements of other popular rock genres.  The lyrics are aggressive and hold weight without being offensive. 
This is one hell of an energetic record.  The first 8 tracks are pure GO.  These aren’t songs you wind down to.  Instead, listen to them while you’re running from the cops and setting fire to the city.  This isn’t Jack’s Mannequin.  The tone is set from the start with the track The Other Tiffany.  If you like this track, the next 25 minutes will be a treat.  The last song on the EP called Just Go Away is the exception.  It’s a sombre acoustic track, the type I usually enjoy to conclude albums.  However, I couldn’t really warm up to this one.  Maybe Care should have done the vocals to make things fit together better as it felt too out of place, even for an EP.
My final thoughts.  I was a bit concerned that the record would be too aggressive for my tastes.  Admittedly, Die Mannequin is a bit edgier than the music I typically listen to but I felt that Danceland was a refreshing change.  The energy and passion in their music makes me look forward to their concert on June 15th at the Mod Club in Toronto.  I can almost feel the stage presence in their recorded EP so I can only imagine what they are capable of doing live.   
Candide By Die Mannequin

I realize this has been one of the more serious blog entries I’ve written in a while.  No I haven’t lost my cynical humour.  That will resurface at some point.  But for now, rock on and support local music.

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