Song of the Day

Man-Eaters, “At the Wheel,” from Gentle Ballads for the Simple Soul (Feel It Records, 2020)

"Oh-Oh, here they come. Watch out or they’ll chew you up... they’re the Man-Eaters (though this is more haulin’ ass than Hall N’ Oates)!”

Based out of Chicago’s endlessly fertile punk scene, the members have also been in such musical acts as Tarantüla, Cülo, and the umlaut bereft Bleeding Gums.

This particular assemblage of Midwestern hardcore roytalty is unique to a band comprised of folks with an already wide swath of influence. Their latest LP, Gentle Ballads for the Simple Soul, was released earlier this year. As is the sad norm in our current times, the ardently DIY cassette label has been hit particularly hard these days. Though somewhat handcuffed by international distribution restrictions, they sport and eye-popping discography on Bandcamp worth digital exploration. Spread the love, y’all. 

While the collective members' other projects have seen them mine everything from traditional USHC, garage, Devo-worship, and mid-paced hometown heroes Naked Raygun style rave-ups, Man-Eaters seem to revel in exploring the era before the punk levee fully burst. They incorporate elements of the boozy glory '70s rock, flourishes of ripping NWOBHM, and proto-punk into an already fetid concoction of Thin Lizzy, Black Flag, and the MC5.

The entire LP plays loose and fast, but for my Song of the Day purposes, I’m shouting loudest about “At the Wheel.” This late album gem sprints out of the gate, proving again that our scene isn’t idling so much as it is revving its collective engine in frothing anticipation. When and if we return to relative normalcy, let this be the soundtrack to the nascent days of said renewal. 

Much like Annihilation Time they mangle the stadium theatrics of early KISS and The Pink Fairies when they’re not busy digging into their BL’AST and RKL tendencies. They sway in on an off-kilter rhythm before devolving into the Jurassic charge of Motörhead or, more recently, the Tee Pee Records roster. What’s ultimately so impressive is the playing. The guitars are worthy of Flying V’s, albeit played with the drug-addled fury of Sweden’s Rude Kids.

The mid-song solo is a barnburner that splits the difference between the axe heroics legends of Lynott and Gorham for something a bit more exhilarating and punk-fueled. 

This is heavy rock for heavy times, but it’s ultimately a celebratory tour through decades of grimy guitar music. I’d happily throw this on anytime I’m behind the wheel or under the hood, but I sure as shit wouldn’t let these maniacs drive.  If you’re so inclined, snag the LP from Feel It Records. It features jaw-droppingly great cover art by the band’s own mega-talent known as Drügface. Until we open back up, let Man-Eaters keep the engine warm… it’s a ripper. 

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Gentle Ballads for the Simple Soul is available on vinyl via Feel It Records, and if you want it on cassette, hit up Pissed Off! Records.

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