Given the winter the East Coast has just survived, it's appropriate to emerge from the bleakness with a record that eases out of its own icy shell. ManDancing's Everyone Else emerged in winter 2016, prior to political shifts at home and abroad, but carries no less weight than it did when quietly released online. In fact, this record from five New Jersey residents seems more potent than ever with its 2018 reissue. It's at once intimate and ferocious, a windswept combination of hushed pronouncements and gasped confessions.
ManDancing's emotional compass magnetizes to vocalist and rhythm guitarist Stephen G Kelly, whose voice wavers between confidence and catharsis. The spectral nature of his delivery is a genre in irself. It waxes elegiac on the alt-country sway of “stones (again) ((and again))” as percussion spikes and splinters behind it, before breaking free into a desperate wail. It's this upward curve that carries the arrangements forward, a force that could explode any moment into something unpredictable, warped, yet altogether fitting of such visceral songwriting. Even the song titles match this uncertain nature, tacking on parenthetical comments as notes from the East Coast music scene and Kelly's fumbling conscience.
Above all, Everyone Else promises a narrative that finds its characters trying to define their own independence. Is it more isolating than liberating? Amidst the haze of young adulthood, the beer cans, and the skipped house shows, ManDancing navigates what it's like to feel positively undone and unlimited at the same time. It's hard and it's an impossible thing, but it's always part of growing older.
ManDancing - "Everyone Else" is out now via Take This To Heart Records