Hated: 2008 - 2011 features the early material of The Men, the New York punk-etc. band who, at this point, were just punk. And what a gnarly kind of punk too: really grungy, noisy, hardcore-tinged stuff, represented in grainy glory in the form of tracks from demos, singles, live tracks, outtakes, and the group’s deeply rare first ever demo tape. On Sacred Bones.
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We’ve come a long way baby. Or have we? When The Men released ‘Tomorrow’s Hits’ back in 2014 it felt like a massive departure for a band who’d previously been labelled “hardcore”. And yet, was it really?
The argument that this compilation of the band’s earlier stuff makes is an emphatic “no”. ‘Hated 2008 - 2011’ collects various releases the band made a decade ago before they’d signed to Sacred Bones (who hand handle this release). Though a lot of it is straightforward (but not necessarily straight edge) hardcore punk, ‘Hated’ paints a picture of a band who were always more than that. The first suggestion of this is ‘Free Sitar’. Though I’ have no idea if any of The Men have ever touched one of the instruments, they more or less pull off what your average psych band might call a “sitar jam”. More convincing are two of the later songs, ‘Cowboy Song’ and ‘California’. They’re a pair of country-rock instrumentals that the band can now point to and say “see, we were always like this”.
The hardcore tracks though are where this version of the band are most in their element. They’re confident and loud and angry. You can feel the sweat dripping down the walls of whatever New York DIY establishment they found themselves in. The DIY production actually does these tracks a lot of favours. As the equipment struggles to keep up with their speed and volume, there’s a sense that The Men were too big to contain. And when it came to being a just a hardcore band, they probably were.
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