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SNMNMNM - Power Pack Horse Crunch

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Album: Power Pack Horse Crunch

Label: International Cork

Review date: Mar. 3, 2004

By the end of the ’90s, the nerds had had revenge many times over in the form of They Might Be Giants, Weezer and Ben Folds Five. Of course, pioneers can only pave the way for those who choose to follow, and since then, few bands have chosen to follow in their footsteps. The Western New York group SNMNMNM, however, is openly indebted to their heroes, They Might Be Giants – so much so that many may find the similarities more than enough reason to pass on Power Pack Horse Crunch.

The album introduces itself with a bigass “kick me” sign of an accordion line by Seamus Kinney, and 10 seconds later brother Mark quickly obliges with a hairy guitar riff. By the end of the opening “Number 10” SNMNMNM have popped, rocked and chickenscratched some indecipherable skronky calculus, all with a conceited smirk. From here out, the brothers rival their heroes in respect to melody – they smartly straddle the line between silliness and self-seriousness over the album’s first half – but don’t provide the quirkiness that made TMBG so addictive.

SNMNMNM’s most apt offering to their genre is the tuba, played by Mark Daumen. It works surprisingly well at anchoring a tight rhythm section, while also providing some low-end comic relief. The jams are gangly but proficient, adding trumpet, trombone, and xylophone to the aforementioned accordion – similar to covering Weezer at the end of band class. It never quite "rocks," even when it’s rocking out, and the lyrics range from lamentable (“Life is a painting and I am blind.”) to lame (“Tried to send an email / but your server was down…again.” ). Still, it would take a self-absorbed jock to deny the group’s charm, even if it’s the sort dependent on inside geekdom jokes.

As for their name, pronounce it carefully: sado-masochism + an inflammatory hip hop superstar. Cheeky, but, really just an innocuous and plucky coincidence. Its true meaning is both clever and sincere, which together comprise the most endearing quality of any dweeb: SnMnMnM = Seamus n’ Matt n’ Mark n’ Matt.

By Greg Bloom

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