The Manly Deeds – Hard Times For The Animal Kingdom

Cover art for Hard TImes For The Animal Kingdom by The Manly Deeds

When I was nine, I got my first minibike, a used Yamaha GT 80. Tellingly, the purchase involved a cardboard box of inessential parts removed by a combination of gravity and vice grips. The remainder of the bike was dented and twisted, with the worst of its bruises covered up by a swell coat of magenta house paint. When you got it running (never a sure thing), the gas tank would rattle between your legs, chattering and shaking. And there was no quiet mode: the damn thing was loud. When you finally let the clutch out, however, you forgot what it sounded liked, what it looked like and just enjoyed the sheer pleasure of the ride.

The Manly Deeds remind me of that minibike. They start themselves up, revving their mandolin far past the red line, the junk percussion starts clanking, the bass drops in, the tension builds and you’re pretty sure they’re going to come apart at the seams. Then the screaming starts and off they go… a streak of joy and danger heading to the nearest watering hole.

Sure, the title cut to their album Hard Times For The Animal Kingdom is an environmental anthem of sorts, but it’s an irreverent one, reminding us that we’re as beastly as the next species:

Well I get high like a bird
and I get busy like a bee
and you can’t buy much
when times are tough
but we can f___ for free

What makes Hard Times stand out from other punky bluegrass albums is that The Manly Deeds know how to mix it up, throwing in a couple of minor key dirges like “Tomorrowland” and “Minnie The Moocher.” They also never let the cacophony obscure the lyrics, which bring interesting twists to old themes. In “St. Paul Girls,” brothers Adam and Jason Aud sing:

Those St. Paul girls are always smiling
always smiling when I come around
those St. Paul girls are always smiling
always smiling when I come around
but those St. Paul girls keep on smiling
when I’m gone

Formerly known as “The Middle East,” The Manly Deeds, hail from Maryland and reference the midwest whenever possible. I’m not sure of their geographical past but let’s just assume they get around some. ¬†And I’m hoping that they get around me soon because I bet they put on a hell of a live show.

Visit The Manly Deeds Website

Stream and Purchase Hard Times For The Animal Kingdom

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