Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The kids aren't kids anymore. With that said, the kids still aren't alright, no matter what you think. They're far from it. They're angry and they're broker than ever. They're living at home, some of them are, and they're looking for work anywhere that will have them or just choosing to mooch off of whatever fat they can find. There's no longer any fat of the land - that's all been turned into big box stores and coffee shops or drilled into for crude oil. There's just the fat from the good pieces of the meat slung into the dumpsters behind the fancy and low-brow restaurants, left for the vermin and the crows. The kids are learning to just bite around the other bite marks. The kids are pessimistic and they're getting more and more jaded by the minute, distrusting the government even when they'll take the credit for bringing to office the new face of it. The kids are spitting nails and they're running scared. They're playing nice because there aren't many options should anything they currently have backfire. These are the times - more than ever before in these kids' lives - where they can feel the rock pushing up against their crotches and the hard place rubbing up against their asses. The stage has been set and the curtains have been drawn and what we're able to view are the pissers and the moaners transformed into the exhausted during the day, zombified worker bees before they shed their subservient tendencies for nights of the mind drubbing itself against as many brick walls as possible without it leaving too many lasting markings that could be looked ill upon the next morning at "roll call." Chicago indie punk rockers Mannequin Men are one of the voices of this generation of kids who graduate from college and can't find someone to employ them to save their lives. They represent the worn out and the reckless who have been painted into the corner, at gun-point. Kevin Richard is a smoky, freak of nature who was probably in detention every other day of his junior high and high school career, flipping the bird to teachers and starting food fights - nothing too terrible, just a worked up irritant, a likeable incorrigible. He's a dangerous sort of lyricist - the kind that just writes whatever is working his ass over at the moment, the girls, a name heard at a grocery store/pharmacy, all of the various stonings he's been taking from the tumultuous outside where no one gives a damn. He sounds as if he's being choked and forced to momentarily hold red hot coals just before a mouse trap slowly sets in across the meaty parts of his knuckles to the point where things start hurting a little. It's a lively voice that just blows past you and threw you, spewing the kinds of sentiments that can only come from someone working at a disadvantage, getting used and worked over, but still trying to throw an even number of punches when the time is right, or when he's off the clock. Mannequin Men, with their latest record "Lose Your Illusion, Too," and nearly all that they've done previously, are speaking for all of the kids who just can't be bothered to get out of bed before noon if they can help it. These are the anthems for all of those early-to-mid 20 year olds who already feel as if they've got one foot in the grave, are well on their ways to growing the kinds of meaty paunches that their middle-aged fathers carry and feel as if they're getting totally screwed. They're hollowed out and yet they're willing to get fucked up and move around a little bit, telling themselves that it's not a sign of life, just a twitch, something positive in this here life that's helping them keep the bedsores to a minimum.
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