I will confess to going bonkers of 2013’s Manateees’ “Cat Food” on Goner Records. Both songs on that 7″ I have played countless times. It fits my definition of genius, which is to make something simple, catchy, and addictive. You have to be a genius to create something that seems like it could come from the mind of 5 year old, but without being cutesy or wimpy. In fact, their other 7″, “Beast” on TicTacTotally is the complete opposite. It sounds demented, like it comes from a sick person who has been interned in an asylum.
When you sit down to listen to their first LP, “Sit N’ Spin” on Pelican Pow Wow records, the first song you hear is this one, “Hot N’ Sour Soup”, and you are immediately transported to that other world that can only be created by extremely talented unpretentious slightly crazy people. You know, Geniuses!
They are known as a punk band, but this is pure rock n’ roll. It sounds like a mid-70’s rock n’ roll blues stomper. The riff is some stadium take your shirt off and wave it around like a helicopter type of riff. No “woo-hoo’s”, but they are implied.
But pay attention, he is singing about working a stupid kitchen job, I think. Or maybe he’s being served shitty food? Anyway, he’s pissed off, and he’s expressing his anger in a very energetic way. You get why he’s angry, but you do more than sympathize, you become angry yourself.
What if Howlin’ Wolf was still alive and singing today? He’d have a pretty depressed life on purpose just so he could sing the blues and sound authentic. He would probably become a homeless person, but only during the summer time. He would let himself be interned in an asylum during the winter. And he would practice his guitar in the room. He’d give concerts for the inmates and they would be electrifying.
On this track, you’d expect a wild solo, but it’s just Abe noodling around in the high notes, just for a few seconds, to remind you he composed the whole thing, scribbling his signature.
I can’t say enough good about them, so I’ll say something bad: not all of their songs are like this one. They are full of ideas and clever details, but some riffs come short and seem incomplete, as if you must finish them yourself. That is fair if you think about it. If he is capable of making pure perfection like here, then he is allowed to be demanding on different occasions. But I’m saying, he could be more generous with us, and make every single song in the same vein as this one…dare I ask.
Buy Manateees LP