The Music Fusion Magic of MAN E

MANE deliberately stylized their name to be, well… stylish. “Kind of like it was printed,” frontman Sam Wegman says.

The Google-thwarting moniker is also functional, as there’s a “Mane” in Australia and San Francisco. It’s meant to evoke “how long it takes to grow your hair long” (as the band’s Instagram bio reads), a sense of passing and becoming that also seems tied to the pandemic, which encompassed the length of public life of the group.

Started as a bedroom recording project, MANE played its first show in February 2020 and has been releasing music at a steady pace since then, including last summer. Leo//Lib//Taurus EP (with a killer video for “Mood-Ring” shot in an empty Oaks amusement park) and this year’s single “Night Things…”.

It’s a group of veterans: Wegman and drummer Jed Overly, both former Astro Tan, keyboardist-guitarist Justin Chase (Pure Bathing Culture, Tango Alpha Tango), bassist Grace Bugbee (Black Belt Eagle Scout, Y La Bamba, Night Heron), and keyboardist Tony Pullig-Gomez (Mood Beach).

With touring largely on hold, MANE sold his beloved Goldfinger van to fund the release of Leo//Lib/Taurus. But then Overly and Cameron Spies (of Radiation City and Night Heron) offered to release the EP on Literal Gold Records. Now, MANE goes to gigs in the most Portland way possible: with two Subarus.

Leo//Lib//Taurus was mixed by Jake Viator of Los Angeles-based Stones Throw Records, whose LA neo-soul aesthetic seemed to suit the R&B-influenced art pop and electronics of MAN E.

Wegman cites Stones Throw artist Jerry Paper as well as King Krule and Porches as kindred spirits. MANE’s songs tend to be stream-of-consciousness and reverse-engineered, with the music taking shape around fragmented vocal melodies, GUI guitars, and Roland Juno 106 pads, among other things.

The reverie and groove exist in tension with Wegman’s sometimes secular lyrics, which he describes as “conversations with the id.” “Fuck this city, fuck this place,” he sings on the 2020 single “Deconstruction.”

This lyric “could be for anyone, anywhere, feeling trapped,” Wegman says. “The feeling that you can’t get out of your skin. But yeah, I was totally talking about Portland.

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