A new album by quirky Sydney singer-songwriter trio Men With Day Jobs takes the theme of Denial by the scruff of the neck and gives it a gleeful musical shake.
Deep in Denial, the fourth album by these exuberant veterans, is their best yet - delivering a vividly varied grab-bag of the poignant, personal, political and plain puerile. And the Men career from one musical genre and tempo to another to ensure they hold our attention.
For some time, Sydney venues have been raving about this group. Says Wayne Richmond of Humph Hall: “Thoroughly entertaining... great songs, extremely competent playing, strong singing… kept the audience in stitches.” And Graham Healy of DinkiDi Acoustic agrees, saying at his venue the Men “… left us wanting more. A beautifully crafted performance.”
This is the first album in which founders, singer/pianist/multi-instrumentalist Rod Crundwell and singer/guitarist/chief lyricist Stafford Sanders – collaborators for almost fifty years and once sailor suited performers on Countdown – have been joined by singer/bassist Kim Constable, Rod’s longtime bandmate in classic rockers Ol’ 55 and On the Prowl.
As individuals the Men have played with too many big names to mention - and for too many years to admit to – with forays into radio satire and stage musicals.
Their razor-sharp climate satire Denial Tango has gone quietly viral on YouTube, and it’s joined here by hilarious takes on underachievement (Peaked Too Soon), linguistic laziness (Eloquence in F), ‘sixties nostalgia (How Does It Feel), the battle between adventure and comfort (Where the Wild Girl Runs) and the animal within (Goat People). A skilled parody of (or tribute to?) surf music, Beached, finds the Men at bleached harmonic best in a pun-drenched hymn to 32 Sydney beaches.
The many laughs are nicely balanced by two beautiful, haunting ballads - on the disappointments of ageing (Sally and the Circus) and the plight of the refugee (Life in Transit, inspired by the true story of the man who lived in Paris Airport for eighteen years).
And music itself is part of the Men’s inspiration – from their own experience of feeling out of place in a trad folk club (Songs of the Sea) and disastrously interrupted by PA announcements in clubs (God in the Ceiling) to an affectionate tribute to ethno-musicologists (Songcatcher) and a rousing call-and-response celebration of the life and musical attitude of legendary R&B producer Jerry Wexler (The Righteous Road) – featuring some catchy guest sax and soul backup vocals.
The album is bookended by pure, catchy optimism: from the opening Top o’ the Mornin’ (featuring “no-string banjo”) to the only cover - a wacky ukelele B-side from 1928 called Hum and Strum.
All in all, it’s a delight. And there’s no Denying that.
released July 19, 2014
DEEP IN DENIAL: All songs written by K.Constable/R.Crundwell/S.Sanders © 2014 Men with Day Jobs
except Hum and strum (do-do-do, that’s what I do) B.Meyers/E.Schoebel
Performed and produced by Men With Day Jobs
Guest vocals by Beck Fielding and Russell Neal on tracks 7 (Eloquence in F) and 13 (The Righteous Road)
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