Artist: Haley Bowery and the Manimals
Haley Bowery & The Manimals are new to me. I’ll be totally honest and say that I discovered them through a press release. I normally don’t even read press releases, they tend to go straight into the garbage but I was grabbed by this one and the style that seemed to be present. I thought there could be something here that I might enjoy. So I grabbed their debut album and now I’m here to let you know how it is, and if it’s worth checking out.
That’s the official video for the single 29 off of Born Strange. The very first thought I had upon listening to the album was that maybe I’d been mistaken and there wasn’t really anything that delivered on the promise of the pretty packaging that drew me in. Every single night in NYC there are about 1000 shows and wannabe rock stars are everywhere. This is the home of punk rock after all. But giving it another listen I found myself digging the album. There’s lots of generic “let’s be rock stars” but it’s backed up by some solid music. Let’s do a quick track by track review.
Born Strange is the title track and kicks off with some feedback and a punk riff leading into “I was born strange with a comet’s name”. It feels very Hedwig-esque to be honest. The drums and bass kick in and Haley leads us through a story of rock and NYC (themes that are basically the entire album summed up). The song is catchy though and really a stand out.
Blitzed slows it down a little for a song about a love gone sour. It’s very simple but once again catchy. There’s some nice harmonies going on here as well. It’s super enjoyable.
29 you can listen to above. It’s also a slower song. It’s not perfect. There’s some less than perfect lyrics in parts but overall it works very well. Also bonus points for the line “If I had a DeLeorean”.
Undertow is the next song up. There’s some nice guitar and vocal work on this track. I felt some real emotion starting to show through here as well. Nice harmonies too. I think this is easily one of the best tracks of the album and Haley Bowery would probably do good to keep this one as a showcase of just what this band can do.
Lobotomy is the halfway point and starts with a simple bass line that brings us into a bluesy song. I like it a lot. It’s similar to Undertow, but still very different.
Jukebox Dive is a song about longing and love. Once again this is a song I really, really like. It’s got a very familiar feel to it but it’s better than the 1000′s of bands trying to sound like this. There’s some emotion here and that elevates the track. It also originally appeared originally on the EP Side of the Hill
Twelve Secrets originally appeared on Bowery’s first EP Side of the Hill. So you can check it out on there. It’s a song about young love. It’s not the strongest track on the album, but it’s good.
Halloween is an upbeat and fun song. It’s super reminiscent of something you might hear the Toilet Boys do (in fact the whole album really is, I’d love to see the two groups play together). It’s a nice rock song with the Manimals screaming out some backing vocals. “Fuck the rest of them, baby, let’s party!” This seems like a great song to blast in your car.
Dream of the Chelsea Hotel is an ode to the punk rock history of the Village. It’s one of those songs that with a first listen you probably won’t love, but listen a few times and you’ll find yourself humming the chorus as you go about your day.
All Lies closes things out. It’s not the strongest track and to be honest I didn’t love it. I think the entire preceding album is much better, but it’s still not a bad track.
My overall thoughts are that this is a very competent band that has a ton of promise and they’re just really kicking into gear. I have to mention the specific musicians that make up the Manimals: Patrick Deeney on guitar, Joe Wallace on bass, and Attis Clopton on drums. One thing of note is that the production on this non-major label album is pretty terrific. It’s mixed really well and listening to it on a pretty great speaker system it sounds great. I did mention that a lot of Born Strange feels generic, like music you’ve heard before. Very NYC post-punk/glam/rock. But at the same time it makes wonderful use of that sound and winds up being a lot of fun.
I highly recommend buying Haley Bowery & The Manimals Born Strange when it’s released on June 19th (links to purchase will be added to this page closer to the release date). You can check out the band’s webpage for more info about shows and media. For those of you in the NYC area you can attend the Born Strange album release show on Saturday June 23rd at The Studio @ Webster Hall. Tickets for that are available on Ticketweb.