JENN PELLY (ASSOCIATE EDITOR, PITCHFORK)
I first heard about the Men in 2010 at WNYU, and I met Chris at a bar near Brooklyn Masonic Temple later that fall, when I gave him my extra ticket to that night’s Swans reunion show. I remember being confused that a band would just call themselves “The Men” but a lot of things about their corner of punk mystified me. I associated the Men with a 538 Johnson scene that was different from my own experience at that space (i.e. vegan potlucks with the anarcha-feminist crowd), but they sounded so thrillingly New York to me—more than any other Brooklyn band of their era. Everything about The Men felt distant and familiar at the same time, which was intriguing. Their blown-out claustrophobia felt like a logical response to living in a place that can feel unlivable. It was like they were cramming decades of New York underground rock mythology into a tiny windowless apartment or an overflowing subway car or just hiding from the circus of a city that doesn’t care about artists. I saw the Men play the first U.S. Iceage show in 2011 and thought they were way better.
RYAN NAIDEAU (A&R, ROUGH TRADE)
There was one show at the legendary 538 punk house where they were really rocking hard, everyone was moshing, and just when you thought Nick was gonna stomp his distortion pedal and shred a guitar solo, he put his guitar down and busted out a clarinet. He starting squawking all over the jam, and it was still so sick and brutal! No one stopped moshing…. The joyous energy was palpable, and the sound was ecstatic and free. This was a moment I’ll never forget. It was the melding of all genres and vibrations in a close-minded room meant for only one kind of thing. The Men expanded the minds of everyone they played for around this time. As a fan of all types of music—country, psychedelic, jazz, you name it—they were the band for freaks like me. Without ego, without preaching, they took the punk ethics we all shared and ran with it in a way we didn’t even know we needed.