Punk rock has rarely been ‘cooler.’ The Clash seem to have cool oozing from their sweat, but ever since ‘Cut the Crap’ and ‘Combat Rock’ existed, their discography was tainted, and disgruntled fans across the world shrugged with mercy. The Velvet Underground is about the coolest punk/rock group of all time, but when Lou Reed taunted fans with abrasive factory noises, and decades later teamed with Metallica, the whole enigma of the artist hit the entire spectrum of ‘cool.’ So we are left with a few choices. It really comes down to ‘Minutemen’ or ‘The Men,’ and since Minutemen’s front man Mike Watt ignored me at a show, I’m going with the latter.

‘The Men’ ooze cool. It’s in their blood, and it’s a disinterested dark shade of ‘swagger blue.’ The group formed in 2008, and as far as cool goes, they are the greatest contemporary example of rocking out and not giving a shit. Their music is the perfect level of under produced. Not quite gimmicky weird like ‘Guided By Voices,’ but a massive cry from Coldplay. The group is old-school punk rock frenetic, with a modernized sampling of psychedelic hardcore. There is little screaming, which could alienate fans accustomed to shrieking and growling. But here, the music is lifted, not drowned out by a pseudo-angry but totally unintelligible vocalist. This is more akin to The Ramones or The Replacements. Rock and roll and punk isn’t always angry. Sometimes, it’s just for fun.

And this is what makes ‘The Men’ so accessible and likable. The group’s latest LP ‘New Moon’ finds a jamming rhythm that seems to accelerate the entire album. The group’s latest effort was in 2012 in ‘Open Your Heart.’ This makes the group productive, unlike a few of their peers. The group attempts many different styles with total ease, teetering the line between guitar-driven surf-rock and bouncy pop psychedlia. The group loosens the belt here and there for longer jam sessions that recall the soothing and abrasive mixes of The Velvet Underground. These longer tracks are leaned against shorter songs, making for a fantastic albeit jarring listen.

I like ‘The Men.’ I really really do. Sometimes people think insistence is overcompensation. The more I insist, the more I am proving that I am trying to cover ground. ‘The Men’ are odd, and their flavor isn’t always the right fit for the right time. But there is something absolutely addictive about their sound in the right mood. Tonally, they go for ‘wild eccentricity.’ They never totter into full-blown metal nor do they embrace straight punk rock. They exist in a middle ground void, where only bands who shame any pop sensibility go- a place where Japandroids suddenly break out, and ‘Guided By Voices’ is 20 albums into a career (with a combined budget of $50,000). ‘The Men’ have released an album just about every year since their inception. Let’s only hope they continue their massive originality for years to come, as we appreciate music that is original as it is ‘cool.’

Upcoming Gigs
03-07 New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom. New Moon.
03-09 Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour
03-14 Paris, France – Point FMR
03-15 Kortrijk, Belgium – De Kreun
03-16 Bruxelles, Belgium – Magasin 4
03-17 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso
03-19 London, England – Garage
03-20 Nijmigen, Netherlands – Merlyn
03-21 Copenhagen, Denmark – Stengade
03-22 Berlin, Germany – Festaal
03-23 Prague, Czech Republic – 007 Club
03-24 Vienna, Austria – Arena
03-25 Budapest, Hungary – Akvárium Klub
03-26 Ljubljana, Slovenia – Menza Pri Koritu
03-27 Zagreb, Croatia – Club Mocvara
03-28 Belgrade, Serbia – Grad Beograd
03-29 Skopje, Macedonia – MKC
03-30 Tessaloniki, Greece – 8 Ball Club
03-31 Athens, Greece – AN Club
04-10 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Ballroom
04-11 Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall
04-12 Minneapolis, MN – First Avenue and 7th Street Entry
04-13 Northfield, MN – The Cave-Carleton College
04-14 Winnipeg, MB – West End Cultural Centre
04-15 Saskatoon, SK – Amigos
04-16 Calgary, AB – Broken City
04-17 Edmonton, AB – Pawn Shop
04-19 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
04-20 Seattle, WA – Vera Project
04-21 Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios
04-22 San Francisco, CA – Rickshaw Stop
04-24 Las Vegas, NV – The Bunkhouse
04-25 Salt Lake City, UT – Salt Haus
04-26 Denver, CO – Hi Dive
04-27 Omaha, NE – Slowdown
04-28 St. Louis, MO – Firebird. w/ Organs til Brooklyn
04-29 Memphis, TN – 1372 Overton Park
04-30 Nashville, TN – The Stone Fox
05-01 Durham, NC – Pinhook
05-02 Washington, DC – DC 9
05-03 Providence, RI – Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)
05-27 Charlottesville, VA – Tea Bazaar
05-28 Atlanta, GA – The Earl
05-29 Birmingham, AL – The Bottletree Cafe
05-30 New Orleans, LA – Circle Bar
05-31 Austin, TX – Chaos in Tejas
06-01 Austin, TX – Chaos in Tejas
06-14 Brooklyn, NY – Warsaw. w/ Black Flag