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UNF's #1 Student-Run News Source

UNF Spinnaker

Man, oh man, the real emo indies of Atlanta

Atlanta-bred Manchester Orchestra has managed to take juxtaposition to its logical conclusion in their second poignant album, “Mean Everything to Nothing.”

This less lackluster version of Orchestra’s first album, released in 2006, “I’m Like a Virgin Losing a Child,” which was produced when they were still teenagers, is maturely divided into two sections: an exhilarating burst of emo energy, with the mentality of a ripened, bursting metal band, then followed by the warmth of some major, self-reflection — the kind that makes you want to sit and rock during an exaggerated, bleak shower.

‘Mean”s concept of contrast happened organically — and it wasn’t something they necessarily talked about, multi-instrumentalist member Christopher Freeman said.

“Well, I think it was in our lyricist Andy Hull’s head from the beginning to do it in two parts, he writes in a very story-mode type of way,” Freeman said. “It’s all about his life, and this record is the first time he’s been so honest.”

On one hand, the album is personal, but on the other, the album reveals a level of brotherhood the five members — Hull (guitarist), Robert McDowell (bassist), Jonathan Croley (drummer) and Freeman — managed to establish this year that wasn’t present in ‘Virgin.’

“It was a more collaborative effort, Andy would go home early to be with his wife, and we’d all go in different rooms and get all creative,” Freeman said. “We had a lot of time on our hands, it was very cool.”

They recorded it live, because they wanted it to sound like an actual band, Hull said.

The first six tracks run into one another, leaving no time to breath. The sound story opens with “The Only One,” and surprises listeners with some well-executed power pop. But after a short few tracks, you’ll notice a motif of coming-of-age inner-conflict and religious uncertainties Hull projects through less fragile, Conor Oberst-esque vocals.

The screamo kicker, “Shake It Out,” bleeds existential crisis, until Hull goes into an earnest tizzy when he cries, “I felt the lord begin/ To peel off all my skin/ Reveal a bigger mess that you can’t fix.”

Not to mistake these fellows for a Christian band, M.O. isn’t afraid to pull out the ole’ “goddamn” no-no in, “In My Teeth,” or to ride on the edge of sacrilege in their finale, “The River.”

The second and final chapter of the album is a 15-year-old girl’s lyrical bible. (“I Can Feel a Hot One” premiered last fall on Gossip Girl.)

Perhaps the album is more suitable for high school-aged lads, but if you’re looking for well-developed musicality and potent verse, it’s the ticket.

McDowell’s chunky guitar riffs yield all the angst, and Freeman’s keyboard generated guitar puts the “Orchestra” in Manchester Orchestra, while the occasional tambourine lifts the album and throws in some folk spice to the Georgian recipe.

Seasoned studio cat Joe Chiccarelli (The Shins, My Morning Jacket, The Reconteurs) blends the album originally and seamlessly.

“Joe is the absolute tone master,” Hull said.

Favorite Gentleman Recordings, the indie label Hull and Edmond founded in 2004 as a way to stay in control of their music, releases all of M.O.’s albums.

Their upcoming tour starting Feb. 26 makes a stop Feb. 27 in Jacksonville at Freebird Live.

Freeman is pumped about the tour, but can’t wait to play with one of their opening bands, O’Brother, who, Freeman said, are the shit. But bigger than the music is comfort, and he especially can’t wait to get to Norfolk, Va.

“The venue there has a big jacuzzi, basketball courts, video games, they cook for you, and you can even do laundry,” Freeman said. “It’s basically the best place on earth — a band guy’s wet dream.”

And although Freeman had no idea what an Osprey was, (he actually thought I said “ass spray”) he did offer up a little advice for the good little boys and girls of UNF.

“Stay in school, but then get the f— out of Florida,” said Freeman. “It’s too hot, it rains all the time and the women are weird.”

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