Six Demon Bag is the sophomore album by Philadelphia avant-garde gypsy-jazz indie rock band Man Man
. It came out after 2004's Man In A Blue Turban With A Face
and before 2008's Rabbit Habits
. It accomplished this feat by coming out in 2006.
Six Demon Bag is quite bizarre, though not at first. Song number one, Feathers, opens the album with slow, heartfelt crooning accompanied by a piano playing in 3/4 time. This is in some ways indicative of the rest of the album, and in some ways misleading. The second song starts off with a high-pitched voice saying, "all I want to be is a shovely bubbly gobbly gook!" and then a honky-tonk piano sets off in 2/4 time with drums crashing in the background and the lead singer (who goes by the name Honus Honus) singing along wordlessly and drunkenly. The fourth song, Young Einstein On The Beach, is 59 seconds of the band screeching "get-it got-it good I-gotta-get-it got-it good I-got-it" over and over.
It only takes a few minutes to realize that the members of Man Man (Honus Honus, Critter Crat, Sergei Sogay, Pow Pow, Chang Wang) are probably insane. If the wild outbursts of screaming between sad waltzes doesn't bother you, then you may like this. After getting over the general circus-style weirdness of it all, even the silly songs like Young Einstein On The Beach are quite catchy. The musicianship isn't as sloppy as the descriptions suggest; in fact the instrumentation is very well done. Scattered throughout the album are parts with violin, organ, piano, flute, guitar, and all manner of percussion instruments, approximating mixtures of European folk music and American rock. Many of the songs have multiple vocalists, though they are usually restricted to background choruses. Often one or more of the voices will be comically high, bringing some completely unnecessary levity to the album.
Man Man is a band for people who have a sense of humour about music, but who can also respect a serious song. The lyrics reflect this duality well: the sincere songs are generally easy to understand, and the sillier ones all have nonsense lyrics. Six Demon Bag is probably their oddest album, and in that way is a very good indicator of how far they are willing to go. That's why it's my favourite Man Man album. It's not hard to like, as long as it isn't too weird for you. If you're already listening to music that people have called weird, then Six Demon Bag might be up your alley. It's a bit like the Residents mixed with Tom Waits, if such a creation can be imagined. Off-the-wall, entertaining, and very enjoyable.
1. Feathers (2:08)
2. Engrish Bwudd (3:33)
3. Banana Ghost (2:54)
4. Young Einstein on the Beach (0:58)
5. Skin Tension (3:46)
6. Black Mission Goggles (4:59)
7. Hot Bat (1:26)
8. Push the Eagle's Stomach (3:39)
9. Spider Cider (3:05)
10. Van Helsing Boombox (3:44)
11. Tunneling Through the Guy (5:25)
12. Fishstick Gumbo (0:04)
13. Ice Dogs (4:45)
Six Demon Bag - Man Man - 2006 - ANTI-Records