man·ther [man-ther] noun, plural – menther, (especially collectively)
- A hybrid, composed of bits of man and panther
- Informal . The male version of a cougar; an older man who preys on younger women.
That is the definition of a Manther. When it comes to music, Manther is the definition of a funky, white boy hip-hop tribute to all things late ’80s/early ’90s nostalgia. Hip, Ironic, Silly. All of these words could easily describe the collaboration of members Kevan Hanson, Erich McVey, and Mitch Morris. Yet, you have to admire the attention to detail, flow, and clever wordplay of their lyrics. Upon first listen, these three may sound like they are just having fun, but the more you delve in and listen, you can’t help but bob your head, dance like a fool, and really enjoy the wonderfully crafted beats no doubt masterminded by producer Daniel “DJ Bones” Jones.
The album begins with a track called “Nerdy Girl.” The song sets the tone right away: Manther is different. Smart, funny, and dare I say catchy? Manther likes a girl with a little meat on her cerebellum.
Then they switch gears and serenade the girls with “Sweat It”, a track that does self promotion as most hip-hop tends to do, and does it well. And so also does this track introduce the listener to Manther’s obvious love affair with Rockstar Energy Drinks. Listen to this song “one time and you contemplate it.” Ok?
Then there are a couple of songs that are quite frankly forgettable. Oh wait, no…this is Manther we’re talking about. The next song takes us back to “1985″ a time that actually did not look much like George Orwell’s depiction of a dystopian future. But they don’t stop there, oh no, Manther takes us to 1925 with “them naughty flapper girls”. I won’t spoil the rest of the song for you, but again, subject matter aside, I literally can not stop myself from moving to the electric, bouncy beat of yesteryear.
With “Party on a Weekday”, Morris, McVey, and Hanson ride a sliding, poppy beat to the party that defies all odds. A party without alcohol, that occurs not on Friday or Saturday, but a weekday. This song reminds me of summer, which reminds me of Cactus Cooler for some reason. Don’t ask. This song, like nearly every track on the album, is something I definitely could hear playing at a party. The ironic thing would be to hear this at a party that consists of mainly beer pong and general craziness. Yet, I could still see it happening. As Kevan Hanson quips in the song, “Yeah, that’s right.”
At number five, we have “Freak This Beat”. This, along with the simply named “Dance” is so catchy it should be illegal. Now keep in mind, I don’t like most of what gets heavy radio play. I don’t think being catchy automatically means a song is good. But it’s nice and refreshing to hear a dance song with freak in the title not be rife with overt sexual references and the objectification of women. I don’t mean to get up on my high horse/soapbox here, but that’s overdone, especially in hip-hop. Manther may need to be lumped in with Will Smith on Eminem’s “don’t got to cuss to sell records” list. I do declare.
Now, here’s where I may start to get a little critical, if only to make things more interesting for the reader. “My Baby” is not my favorite track on the record. I like it, but I feel like the album could do just fine without it. As much as I enjoy the deep, vibrating bass lines in the song, the song is very repetitive and I could have done without a few repeats of the song’s title. Yet, as I say this, I notice that out of all the songs on the album, this song has the most listens on my iTunes. Curious.
On that note, we come to what is probably my favorite song on the album. “Dance”. Yes, it’s a command. What, you think I don’t like this song? I’ll show you; I played that song at my wedding. So let it be known, even if no one else has done it, Manther has played at a wedding and roughly 70 people heard it. Granted, some of them did not do as the song commands, but no song would have brought some of these people to the dance floor, it’s just not their bag, ok? Yes, but back to the song. There really isn’t much to it, but again, it’s refreshing to see a dance song that keeps it simple and clean. The song says, “Let me see you dance.” I say, listen to this song a couple times and let me see you not dance. I dare you to try it.
Then we come to “Ridin’ Like a Ghost”, a song that may or may not have sample Super Mario Bros. The games, not that ridiculous movie with John Leguizamo. This song is a tribute to the past time of, well, riding on a car with no driver. Unsafe? Maybe. Fun? Most definitely. But Manther doesn’t do anything halfway. “Kevan Hanson and those Creepy Crawlers” ghost ride the whip in style. Again, this is a track you may find yourself listening to over, and over, and over.
“I Am A Manther.” Well, not me, per se, but DJ Bones, Mitch Morris, Erich McVey and Kevan Hanson “try to keep it clean, never causing a scene or saying any obscenes”. This song is a Rockstar and candy fueled trip into the Manther lifestyle. The guys explain their individual styles and tastes in women while they bring back a style many thought lost. While programs like Mad Men and Pan Am seek to bring back 1960s style, Manther dares to embark 30 years into the future and bring back ’90s style. This song is aptly named, as it serves as a sort of mission statement for the band. These guys bring fun, nostalgic, catchy music to the masses without spoiling it with the four letter words usually associated with the genre.
“Goodwillionaires” reveals where the Manther guys find their latest fashions. Second hand stores have an important place in our society. Yes, they are a place for the less fortunate to go to afford clothes and outdated electronics. I mean, who doesn’t want a Sega Genesis without the power cord or a controller? Without it, I’ll look ridiculous pretending to play Sonic The Hedgehog. But really, step into a fancy store like Forever XXI and you’ll find throwbacks to the ’60s, ’70s and even the turn of the century, but where do you find ’80s and ’90s throwbacks? Where can you find all the stuff that Manther loves to wear? eBay? Yes, but come on, Ross and TJ Maxx just aren’t cutting it in that department. Manther rocks the gear they find at second hand stores, so much so, that they are VIPs. This is a fun song that explores the joys of shopping at a glorified yard sale. Good on ya, Manther.
“Missin’ The Supersonics” I already featured here
in music video form. I have to say, I can relate to this song, as many people can. It’s a somber tune about a (semi) serious subject. Though I will admit I’m a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder in its current incarnation, there was a special quality to the ‘Sonics. Of course, moving the team back where many people feel it belongs won’t bring back guys like Shawn Kemp and Gary Payton, it is sad to see a team with such a storied history just uproot and leave the city it’s most known for. The team may live on, but it will never be the same. This song memorializes the glory days of a franchise now disenfranchised. Now some may disagree with Manther’s pronouncement of Oklahoma City as “literally the worst town in the USA”, namely denizens of the aforementioned city, but these are the words of a group of men who have lost their beloved team. Give them a break…and a listen.
Now we transition from Washington to Oregon, Autzen, to be specific. Now here’s a song that masterfully crafts both a tribute to the band’s home team, the Oregon Ducks, beginning with a marching band that I can only assume, as a somewhat ignorant Californian, to be the team’s own battle cry and both The Mighty Ducks movie series and several ’90s references. Many people roll with the Ducks each season through a variety of sports. I haven’t spent much time in Oregon, but this song had me convinced that I too “should be rolling with the Ducks”.
Finally, Manther caps it off with a song that reminds me of exactly none of their other songs. A driving drum beat, a synthesized, spacey sound flows through it, making it epic, almost operatic sounding. The theme of the song is a journey, by boat, to be sure with the destination yet unknown. I like it, if only because it shows the range of this band and the lengths they will go to in order to set themselves apart from your standard issue hip-hop group. Land, Ho! Ahoy! This song makes me feel like a pirate as the album ends with waves crashing on the shore.
In summary, Manther is not your average hip-hop group and I think that’s great. They have their own sound, their own look, and dang are they classy. Whether you like Hip-Hop, Pop, Rock, Country, or really don’t care that much for music at all…give Manther a try. If nothing else, you may find you’re smiling for some inexplicable reason. How should I know? I just write about music.
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