Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Manges- All Is Well

There is a mental list I keep inside my little Dee Dee brain of bands that HAVE TO release new material on a consistent basis for the preservation of my happiness. One lands a spot on that list with great ease due to their brilliant comprehension of the music they play and while comparisons for them can be drawn to The Ramones and early punk rock, there really is no other entity out there like The Manges. Easily being an institution for connecting the rest of the world to European pop punk and with a copious amount of releases under their belts already, they could just rest and be content, but much to my and many others delight, they aren't finished with their work. Not by a long shot! I have been running in place with anticipation since the guys started to talk about going back to the studio last year and now I can celebrate because the wait is over. Friends, lend me your ears. I'd like to talk to you about a record called "All Is Well"...

I did cover the production credits while reviewing the first single for this record however for the sake of formality, here they are quickly once more. From December 2013 through January 2014 with HervĂ© Peroncini as producer, the songs were recorded and mixed at TUP Studio in Brescia(Italy) by Pierluigi Ballarin and Bruno Barcella. Mastering was done by Jon Astley at Close To The Edge Mastering in Twickerham(UK). The cover which is a strikingly handsome black & white portrait of the guys was shot by Mass Mosrite who also handled the graphics/layout. Additional photos were contributed by Jacopo Benassi, Fabio Clemente, and Andrea Cantelli. The release on LP and CD which happened on April 24th is due to three separate labels which are: DUMB Records who did a CD digipack with a special edition cover for Japanese distro, It's Alive Records(LP and CD) for north American distro, and Monster Zero(LP and CD) for European distro. The Manges will distro for Italy on their own STRIPED Punk Rock Shop(LP and CD). Digital download is available on bandcamp and iTunes also.

As I previously had stated in my review of "Plan Honolulu Motion Picture Soundtrack", and then by Andrea himself in the recent interview he did with me, something very special took place for The Manges with the time they spent at TUP Studio. In a wonderful effort to separate themselves from the all too common sound of modern pop punk records, they chose to strip down to the most fundamental level of punk rock. Lower distortion, a vintage studio, and different elements with instrumentation really gave them an opportunity to show their full potential as musicians and the result is beautiful. It is The Manges who have been in the game for two decades, able to step out from the shade and security of the predictable, while still maintaining their identity as veteran punk rockers. I was elated on the day "All Is Well" started streaming, having heard the two singles released previously and was wowed even more by what I discovered. "Crocodile In My Head' is one of those songs you learn quickly due to it's simplicity and love for just how purely punk rock it is. Great way to start! "My Bad" is a tale of growing up as a troublemaker and stays within that funner feeling but there's a great range in these 12 songs with tracks like "Love Is A Disease"(I think these boys are onto something here haha!). This is just such a GOOD song with a ton of pop sensibility, immaculate vocals, and a hook that could be heard in your sleep.That realistic approach to romance comes through with so much more authenticity to me than the countless, made for mass appeal fabrications out there in the pop punk universe. Like a breath of fresh air! "Don't Bet On Me" has a great beat driving the song through by the always reliable and tight skill of Manuel and features an impeccable solo by Mayo. Adding to the variance in this record is their choice to cover "I Tried To Die Young", originally performed by the longtime and well celebrated singer/songwriter Melanie Safka. By origin this is an acoustic fok song but they certainly took and made it their own, perfectly translated to Manges sound. Also you'll find a terrific instrumental, "Topolinia" which is the Italian name for Mouseville  and it has every bit of playfulness to match the title, featuring a pretty lead played by Andrea. There is always a place for well executed instrumentals! "Secret Agent Super Dragon" is very cool for two reasons, the first being it was written by none other than Dan Vapid, originally intended for the final Riverdales album "Tarantula". Second reason is Mass takes the lead on vocals and it was a brilliant move! I think there's such a grandness to him in stature, his presence as a bass player, and it's no different with his booming vocal tone that gave a good amount of punch to the song. I love it! The closing "Lone Commando"(which also has a single 7" with an exclusive b side available) is one of a couple darker tracks on the record touching on the subject of war and has such a fantastic ending with the title "All Is Well" sang in repetition until the fade out.

I had a lot to say this time, I know! It's just something that occurs naturally for me as a music writer when a record like this happens. "All Is Well" is an anomaly among a sea of releases coming out this year that are great BUT this one wins my choice for number one for the risks that were taken and opportunity it gives the punk rock/pop punk world to see things can be done in a different way, honor the foundation that is responsible for this kind of music's existence, and make just as powerful of a statement. It is is an absolute a standout gem of a record the entire way through and I highly recommend you add it to your collection by visiting any of the three labels who released it, or Striped headquarters. Just as a heads up, Striped has a kick ass t-shirt with Ronald Reagan wearing a pair of Manges Mickey Mouse ears available that was printed to celebrate this release. I want one! Stay tuned to their website, twitter, or facebook pages as they are in the midst of a big round of shows that started in La Spezia on release day and will be visiting many places, one being America this June for some shows with Screeching Weasel and The Queers!! Go see them if you can and give your support because as long as there are bands like The Manges, all really is well.

The Manges are...
Andrea- Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitars, Lead Guitar on "Topolinia"
Mass- Bass, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals on "Secret Agent Super Dragon"
Manuel- Drums
Mayo- Lead and Rhythm Guitars, Backing Vocals

Guest Appearances by....
Hervé Peroncini- Additional Guitars, Percussions, Backing Vocals
Pierluigi Ballari- Organ, Piano
Bruno Barcella- Percussions

All songs written by Andrea Caredda (SIAE) except:
"Secret Agent Super Dragon" written by Dan Schafer, published by Methadones Music ASCAP, arranged by The Manges
"I Tried To Die Young" written by Melanie Safka and Beau Jarred Schekeyk, 2004 Two Story Publishing ASCAP  

Side A
1. Crocodile In My Head
2. My Bad
3. Plan Honolulu
4. Love Is A Disease
5. Panic At The Ice Rink
6. Don't Screw Up The Formula
Side B
7. Don't Bet On Me
8. I Tried To Die Young
9. Topolinia
10. Secret Agent Super Dragon
11. I Just Wanna Make You Cry 
12. Lone Commando (All Is Well)

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