Posts Tagged ‘Stephen G Kelly’

ManDancing didn’t know what they were getting themselves into. It’s a tale as old as time: singer/songwriter makes record in New Jersey basement, band forms, label signs them and then waits 3 years for a new piece of music.

They were once described as sounding like “if Death Cab for Cutie were having a mental breakdown.” Frontman, Stephen G Kelly, says the band name might as well be “For Fans of Manchester Orchestra” due to how often the comparison gets tossed about. The band, however, liken themselves to a modern day Journey, for reasons that aren’t so obvious or valid.

Their sophomore LP ‘The Good Sweat’ is a ride. We’re not talking your family friendly local farm hay-ride either. It is a rollercoaster. Upon entry, the dialed-in ambient drones give way to Kelly contemplating whether or not he should even strap in, and before he can come to a conclusion, the rest of the band pull you into the first descent of its cathartic depths immediately before soaring to thrilling heights.

Centered around Kelly’s fumbling acoustic guitar, each instrument has its unique voice that when laced together, make for a beautifully controlled chaos. Drums that push you to the edge of reason and back home to safety mesh perfectly with the playful yet business-like bass guitar. The electric guitars dance neatly at the ends of the rails, and provide a vast environment for Kelly’s vocals to swim within. Lyrically, Kelly struggles with the dark trenches of his psyche, while searching for reasons to keep moving forward with spirit.

It is at times overwhelming, yet the passenger is never made to feel like the floor has completely fallen out. Have you ever awoken from the panic of a nightmare, relieved to discover that you were only dreaming? Moments like this are strewn all over this steadfast amusement park dragon. That’s the feeling of ‘The Good Sweat.’ManDancing live for it. 

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Written by ManDancing

Acoustic Guitar & Vocals – Stephen G Kelly
Guitar – Ben Petty
Drums – Thomas DeVinko 
Bass – Adrian Kabigting
Guitar – James Bauman
Percussion – Dragon Yup

Released November 20th, 2020

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.

On their upcoming EP Hands On 3, 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 itself. It waxes elegiac on the alt-country sway 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.

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Above all, ManDancing 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.

Hands On 3 is out July 13th via Take This To Heart Records.