By Bryan Mojica | August 24th, 2010
In a summer over-saturated with lo-fi, chillwave, dubstep, and innumerable remixes of seemingly every mediocre song that hits the blogosphere, a chronic disease runs rampant: dry palate. Personally, I’ve accumulated 15 gigs of ‘”new music” in the last 3 months and the consumption is largely comparable to eating a box of powdered donuts without any milk to assist with lubrication. The overall colorless, tedious listening is attributable to artists flogging the above-mentioned: trendy sounds lifeless. All too often it seems the releases are more an attempt to fit a genre/scene and generate “mad hits” versus serve as an expressive outlet of art, energy, or passion.
Considering this current atmosphere of indie music, Northern Californian quartet Man/Miracle’s edgy, vigor-soaked rock LP The Shape of Things is an essential quencher to dry neglected receptors. After fifteen seconds of scratchy, muted picking, the album’s single “Hot Sprawl” takes course with dual guitars ringing outward while joined by crisp percussion and lead singer Dylan Travis’ instantly-enrapturing voice. This is one of Man/Miracle’s favorite tracks to play live because it “usually leads to dancing” (see interview below) and understandably so: the percussion-driven refrain is a spirited masterpiece. After a tonal breakdown led by drummer Tyler Corelitz’s supreme fills, each element rebuilds and exalts in its own right: Travis yells, tambourines roll, Corelitz snaps on the snare, and guitars defiantly squeal.
If this synergetic orgasm doesn’t uplift you in any way, check for a pulse. Similar highlights are widespread throughout the 10-song LP, yet The Shape of Things is positively shapeless. No two songs sound similar as the group is unconfined to a distinct, solitary sound. Instead, Man/Miracle have truly crafted a fresh, unabridged full-length album (a definite rarity in this era of singles and EPs) where they succeed in skillfully interweaving rebellious noise and rock with pop undertones – all the while brimming with energy and zeal. The result is an enthusiastic standout on the year, and a taste that will have listeners eagerly awaiting live performances and a sophomore release.
Special thanks to Dylan Travis, who was gracious enough to take the time and answer some questions. Enjoy and be sure to check out Man/Miracle’s sun-kissed, feel good video for “Pushing and Shoving” at the end of the article.
Who are Man/Miracle and how did you guys meet?
We are four dudes — Dylan, Brian, Ian, and Tyler, though Ian is moving on to bigger and better things at the end of the month, and we’re being joined by Emery Barter. Dylan and Tyler met on a T-ball team in the tiny town of Los Osos, California. Ian and Brian joined in Santa Cruz. We now all live in Oakland, which is where we met Emery.
What does the name “Man/Miracle” mean?
It’s meaningless by design — two of the most loaded words in our language meant to describe the indescribable. We came up with it because we were having difficulties finding a name that encapsulated what we were all about. So we picked something that explains everything and nothing.
How would you describe your sound?
All I know is that it’s constantly changing. In the past it has been chaotic, but controlled, with tons of energy. The new stuff we’ve been writing has been leaning more towards bittersweet, stoned, and nostalgic, but still energetic. I think we might roll with that for a while.
Is there a general theme (as far as lyricism) on The Shape of Things?
Yes, The Shape of Things is about growth and death and creativity and destruction and the eerie way that those things all tend to occur at once. It’s about adjusting to adulthood and living in less-than-stellar situations out of necessity, while trying to stay sane and keep some hope going. There’s some love songs on there too.
Your video for “Pushing and Shoving” is one of my favorites of the year. You’re playing an intimate show for friends – was this just for the shoot or was it a ‘real’ get together?
That was actually one of the tamer parties that occurred on that roof. We still have shows there, though I don’t live in that apartment anymore. The original idea was to have it just be the sand dunes stuff, but we decided to bring a camera to one of the shows we were putting on, and some of the best footage came out of that.
Can you tell me a little about the making of the video/where the shots take place?
Half of it was filmed at a party we had at my old house in east Oakland, which is on International Boulevard. The other half was in our hometown, Los Osos, on the sand dunes—sort of a spiritual place for us, and some of the most gorgeous dunes in the world. It was made by Josh Lowman who is quite talented.
What’s your favorite song to perform live?
I love playing our new songs, but “Hot Sprawl” usually leads to dancing. “It’s Already There” is a new jam I really like singing.
What music are you currently listening to?
I’ve been heavy into beauty and despair lately—lots of Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, Zola Jesus, Slowdive, Diamanda Galas, Smashing Pumpkins, and certain Kurt Vile EPs. I also like Gun Outfit and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.
Is there one artist/group that all 4 of you love?
What is the most shameful song on your iPod?
I have no shame. But I have some songs my girlfriend wrote me that I listen to a lot, which is pretty dorky.