A decade or so after its popularization within the scene, folk punk continues to show promise as a constantly growing and ever-changing subgenre. I consider the 3rd release by Los Angeles folk punk “adventure gore” outfit The Manx to be a fitting testimony to this. You can stream the whole thing over here.
“Blood Chronicles” is like listening to a street-busking band that follows you around and just won’t get out of your face, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is not “easy listening” music to be passively enjoyed in the background; this is a release in hypertensive overdrive that demands your full listening attention. The vocals are sneering, the banjo rolls near-hypnotic, and the accordion wheezing, popping and groaning are all the key ingredients to energetic and memorable songs.
The songwriting displayed throughout the EP is thoughtful and it shows wonderfully. Perhaps most notably is a powerful multi-instrumental tempo change and slow buildup to the final chorus of the first track “Blood Gold.” The frequent string breakdowns stick out front as a wonderful example of excellent musicianship. It’s hard to ignore the technical prowess of a banjo playing at 100mph, sometimes without a break for a whole track.
My biggest issue with this EP is with the balance between melody, vocals and instrumentals. The accordion, which frequently serves as a either a background to the moving banjo and mandolin parts or a double of the vocal melody, can be overpowering in this secondary position. The same can be said for the backing vocals. While it nicely creates the affect of a street-side busking band, too often it ends up sounding messy and scatters the overall flow of the song in too many directions.
“Blood Gold” and “We Are Never The Hunted” on here, and the bonus track “Bear Cubs In My Pants” is a great little hoedown that I only wish was longer than a minute. Fans of Feudalism, Mischief Brew, and Blackbird Raum will enjoy this release. 3.5/5 stars for this EP.