Today’s offering to the RC Gods is a north of the border number.
Die Mannequin – Unicorn Steak
Listen to it here: http://grooveshark.com/#!/playlist/Die+Mannequin+Unicorn+Steak/66884621
Read about them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Mannequin
Fun Facts: Technically this album is a compilation album of 2 of the band’s EP’s – with about 3 extra songs thrown in for good measure. It appears to be as of this date their only full length studio album clocking in at a tight 36mins.
|Die Mannequin – Unicorn SteakPreconceptions: This is actually my replacement pick when Rasputina – Thanks for the Ether was unavailable on the Grooveshark. I didn’t know much about the band or anything. I just heard a song and really dug it so this is my curiosity pick. I didn’t know that this was a compilation album so I apologize.
Mood: Feeling pretty good.
After Listening: I love when women lead sing for punk. It’s refreshing that her voice isn’t autotuned and is often intentionally ugly. Plus, she’s got some amazing lungs. A few of the songs have riffs that are vaguely reminiscent of Nirvana or Iggy and the Stooges. It brings me back to the days when I would consider going to a festival, then remember that I really hate people. Granted, that would be perfect for a punk show but I’m just not violent enough.
Least favorite track/tracks:
Overall (1-5 stars): 4.75
|Preconceived Notions: I know nothing about the band, but the Unicorn steak title got me thinking about how savory it would be. The beef afterall is aged beef – and my friend who was stationed on the Tongafor the Peace Corps for several years, swears the best meat he’s ever tasted is sea tortoise – which is both endangered and on average about a century old. I would factor in that the average Unicorn is probably at least a hundred- what with their latent magical properties, and I imagine with the rarity of the animal it doesn’t have many natural predators – so it probably has a healthy diet, and gets a little fat on the ecosystem. I guess the downsides would be that since it would be such a rare delicacy your methods of prep and accompanying side dishes wouldn’t exactly be time tested and true, and the risk of messing up such a rare treat would be pretty intense. Also, I get the feeling Unicorn might be a little sweet – what from all that exposure to rainbow radiation – and nothing is worse than meat that’s too sweet.After Listening: Ha the opening guitar rift of the album actually has a very Gwar feel about it – that sort of thin tone when trying to palm mute a very standard chord progression. I’m gonna try to stay away from band comparisons (so let me get this last one out) since I started out thinking this was going to be in the L7 vein and didn’t want to insult Die Mannequin, but then as it went on thought I might have to apologize to L7. The vocals are the best part of this, in spots they are almost deadpanned and purposely flat (hence my L-7 imagery), and the girl has plenty of pipes to mix up deliveries. Although, truth be told I could do without the bizarre squeaking in places. But, it isn’t like the singer has an all world voice – it’s just slightly better than average and that becomes a real weakness when you consider that the music on the record is sub standard. It’s way too clean and produced for the vibe I think they wanted, maybe it’s Canada’s way of rocking reflective of their clean streets and unpolluted water sources…well that’s great for them, but it’s not rock. Again trying to not resort to band comparisons let’s just say this a very polished version of late 90’s early 00’s pop punk. I mean these tracks would probably kill on Rock Band entry level…but musically most of this album is a throwaway snooze fest.
Favorite Track: Hand in Hand – It’s not great by any stretch, but it’s got a little attitude that seems genuine. The pop beat seems like what they were going for the whole time, and the repetitive chorus actually helps the piece as it lends an anthem feel to a short piece.
Overall 2.62 At its core this is an average effort – the music sounds strangely generic and very slick for what’s supposed to be a punk/rock experiment. It’s true her vocals have moments where they really hit and act as an engaging instrument, but they don’t do enough to break any patterns or consistently motivate you into overlooking the other aspects of blandness.
|Die Mannequin – Unicorn SteakPreconceptions: I’ve never heard of Die Mannequin, but I like the name of this album. It sounds like indie rocky kinda stuff, but who knows these days, and what does “indie rock” even mean anymore. These are questions for the RC to ponder at greater length some other time… no onto the listening.
After Listening: Die Mannequin is a little too derivative and not nearly unique, inventive or daring enough for my taste. It fluctuates between pop punkish stuff and something I can’t quite put my finger on, but know that I dislike. The singer is capable, but kind of a wuss, in the sense that she should be far more provocative sounding for the way she looks, whether it be in lyrical content or vocal styling—but perhaps I’m overlooking something in the lyrics. Music like this, while not absolutely awful, is very bland to me and fails to hit any sort of chord with my music soul. Maybe you have to be Canadian to understand, I suppose.
Favorites: Upside Down Cross, Near the End
Overall: 2.7 Stars
|Die Mannequin – Unicorn SteakPreconceptions: I have never heard of Die Mannequin. Is it a German mannequin or a command from a pediophobe?
After Listening: 1st listen: Disposable NuMetalMallPunk. 2nd listen: Not as bad as all that yet not what it could be.
Prime Cut Unicorn: Hand in Hand is the poppedypunkedy shout-along I waited the whole album for. I wish there were eight more of these on the album.
Overall: This album’s short length helped it’s final rating as it played twice before I got around to starting the review. I like the raw vocals but the songs are mostly polished Alternapop that ruled Hot Topic from 1999 to 2003. I kept hoping for more real anger and spirit to break through.
Extra Credit: Tilt – Bad Seed