If you’re feeling a little too earth-bound after dinner tomorrow, all loaded up on turkey and potatoes and pumpkin pie, you should head to the Blackbird for an experience that will raise you to galactic heights. No, not another space-rock band, Manplanet is a star-cruising new wave group that has their heads in the sky.
These kids from Minnesota are a color-coded cavalcade of sound. Manplanet is power pop with all the usual hooks. And, oh yeah, it’s kind of new wave. Take early Weezer, cross it with no-wave gods the Rentals, add gimmicks pilfered from Devo’s bag of tricks, and you might come up with something like Manplanet.
Comedy Central fans will be familiar with the group from its appearances on the show “Let’s Go Bowiling.” In fact, Soul Asylum was originally slated to appear on the show, but after Manplanet handily won over the audience, the producers decide not to give the tame grunge leftovers any airtime.
Their latest self-release, a follow-up to 2000’s Skylab E.P., is called An Introductory to Musicianship, and proves aptly titled. The disc is a short introduction to formulaic power pop. Its six songs clock in at just over 20 minutes, with the band rocking through standard mid-tempo distorted-guitar riffage marked by synthesizer accents. No wave maybe, but these certainly aren’t fake ’80s tunes – these are rock songs in the ’90s pop tradition, with jus the right amount of kitsch thrown in.
For example, the track “Black Box,” lead singer Jefferson White’s voice is treated to affect a sound reminiscent of singer of the Buggles (of “Video Killed the Rock Star” fame). This is nothing groundbreaking, and we can be sure that the only revolution Manplanet is going to start is the one in which the audience is made to move its feet.
On stage, band members wear color-coded outfits. There’s White on vocals, guitar and synthesizer, Tim Crimson on bass and VTI, Atom Blutron on synth and guitar, and Pete Green on drums, vocals and synth.
They sip matching beverages from scientific beakers and flasks, and bounce around like weightless astronauts during some songs and move like robots during others.
Expect a very energetic performance, as Manplanet is likely to up the tempo in a live setting and utilize pyrotechnics to add to their schtick. If they don’t burn down the Blackbird, Manplanet will raise spirits, causing you to give thanks for the sounds of space mingled with the purity of earth-bound pop.