Manson Family Picnic
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Manson Family Picnic

Band Folk Acoustic

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"Manson Family Picnic - EP"

Manson Family Picnic are a deft bunch and this is a short but brilliantly assembled little record. There are lots of nods to neat little pigeonholes in this music, but the band somehow manage to dodge through all of them and produce an EP which, whilst it contains many familiar elements, is actually consistently surprising.

What I mean by that is this: each song seems to be born from a slightly different indie folk sub-genre, so if you only heard one of them you could easily type cast the whole record, yet if you listen to the whole thing it is not quite so simple.

Opener The Mistakes harks back to early REM (the melody seems like it could be straight from Green), yet the arrangement is still a lot thinner and more garage folk than that. Shit Diggers could be related to the gothic folk-stomp of the likes of the Builders & the Butchers. Later in the album they veer towards jug and then towards shoegaze indie, believe it or not, albeit played by an errant barn dance band.

They seemed to have flirted with all the touchstones of the last five years of indie folk, without becoming unhealthily beholden to any single one. It is, as I said, very deftly done, and a very enjoyable record. - Song, by Toad


"Tiger Hill Rock a Cold Basement"

The third band was the Manson Family Picnic, a rustic folk quintet which I never would've guessed came from New York. Aside from the upright bass player, who provided a thick, thumping low end on every song, most of the members of the band rotated around the room switching instruments from one number to the next. Most of the band's songs featured acoustic guitar, violin, a spare snare/kick drum set, and ukulele, but frequently accordion and mallet percussion were thrown into the mix, while its harmony-rich vocals emphasized different voices for different sounds and moods.

There was one completely unexpected moment toward the end of its set that helped the Manson Family Picnic leave a big impression. Halfway through one folky mid-tempo song, the diminutive bespectacled violinist, who'd been fairly mild-mannered up until that point, violently grabbed one band mate's microphone stand and began ranting and raving, giving some bizarre story about being accosted by someone with an uzi outside the club. But as spontaneous and improvised as the moment felt, it was clearly planned to some extent, and when the rant concluded with the violinist screaming bloody murder, the whole band joined in, creating a racket that made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. It was the kind of lively, unexpected moment that made me wish there were more than a dozen people in the room to see it. - Baltimore City Paper


"Manson Family Picnic"

Manson Family Picnic is a five-piece from Brooklyn, NY with all sorts of wooden instruments and a knack for creating tight freak-folk tunes. Strings in odd places, background voices for no apparent reason, dissonant male/female harmonies, and bells just for the hell of it (don’t take that the wrong way – I’m partial to bells, you know of my Anathallo obsession of course) somehow make Manson Family Picnic worth listening to.

For you NYC concert-goers, Manson Family Picnic are playing the cross-pol series with Warbles on September 29th at Pianos (LES). Their shows have been well-received in the past, so I’d say it’s worth your while to give ‘em a try – I’m especially intrigued to hear how the bells and harmonies play out in a live setting. Plus, come on, all the hipsters hang out by Pianos anyway. If you didn’t know that, you’re either a) unhip b) too hip, in Brooklyn of course c) there is no c, but I wanted three. - Knox Road


"The Manson Family Picnic - Self-Titled EP (Tapeworm Records)"

The first track on Manson Family Picnic’s self titled eponymous EP is a joyful little singalong entitled ‘The Mistakes’. "Do you ever feel like you’re crazy? I do. Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you?”, ask the opening lines. It seems to be about lying back and staring out over the ocean while casually discussing craziness, mortality and paranoia. It’s an infectious number that drifts along to the gentle strumming of a charango and it conjures up images of Charlie and Squeaky and Co sitting peacefully and singing around a campfire on a beach after serving their time and coming to terms with their murderous acts and mortal mistakes. An angelic female voice suggests a young Joni Mitchell could easily be sitting among them too.
None of this is true of course but it’s good when the very first song on an album can stir up such imagery and send you off.
When track two kicks in, all chilled-out-ness is broken in an instant with a shitkicking hillbilly stompalong flaunting some frenzied violin playing and a few unexpected tempo changes which drag its Deliverance ass away from the swamp before there's even a whiff of staleness. Unexpectedness and an element of surprise characterize this seven-tracker all the way through and make it a real fresh riot of aural recreational activity.
The exit song on the EP, ‘Plastic Coated World’ would fit nicely and dissolve, like an acid tab under the tongue, between the track listing of Primal Scream’s psychedelic country masterwork Riot City Blues, and that’s saying something. The unique five-piece make use of all the usual redneck inventory of instruments but also play an array of lesser known acoustic and even toy instruments (trippy, man) to get where they want to go and the result is a cocktail of folk, pop, psychedelics and jazz with a dash of punk.
There's more than a little madness involved here too of course, their moniker tells you that from the get go, but the band have a solid grip on a rootsy reality all of their own and it feels good to trip with them for a while. Take a hit of this stuff, you won’t regret it. - Circle Magazine


"Manson Family Picnic"

Worried about the title of this post? I was a little worried when this band popped up in my inbox the other day too. Vague images of death and debauchery were quickly banished from my head though when I pressed play and proceeded to listen to ‘The Mistakes’ compulsively several times. Not only does it have an infectious and totally non-threatening sound, but the lyrics are fantastic. Lines like ‘do you ever feel like you’re crazy? Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you?’ jumped out at me immediately, and it doesn’t take long before you find yourself singing along.

Manson Family Picnic are Arthur (charango, guitar, vocals), Aaron (guitar, accordion, vocals), Devlin (percussion, vocals), Jeffrey (violin, glockenspiel), Andrew (upright bass) and they play music that is catchy and youthful and whimsical and right up my alley. It couldn’t be more up there if it tried.

And it’s not just this track that does it for me. Head to their myspace to check out what I’m talking about. ‘Ten Dead Horses’ has slightly sinister overtones (that beat!) complete with that yearning violin sound that I go on about so much here. ‘Shit Diggers’ is wickedly chaotic with quirky lyrics and sweet tempo changes that make me smile every time.

Go check em out – they’re fantastic. Seriously. - It All Started With Carbon Monoxide


"Manic with the Manson Family Picnic"

My first impressions from NYC's Manson Family Picnic were these:
1. Adorable.
2. What's with their name?
3. Where have you been all this time?

The five piece band induces true smiles (that come from within) with a unique combination of folk, pop, psychedelics, jazz and even punk. There's more than a little madness involved, expressed in genuine enthusiasm, while maintaining a thorny hold on reality.

"Do you ever feel like you’re crazy? I do. Do you ever feel like someone’s watching you?”, ask the opening lines in "The Mistakes". Sometimes it's fun to be crazy. - Laughing Evergreens


Discography

We released one self-titled EP in February 2009, online and on CD and vinyl. We have had both streaming and radio airplay.

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Bio

Brooklyn band Manson Family Picnic was formed in a woodshop in Bushwick, Brooklyn in late 2007. Its five members play hand-me-down acoustic instruments and come out of a variety of music scenes, ranging from noise and hardcore punk to jazz and avant-garde classical. Manson Family Picnic has played alongside artists such as Vivian Girls, Karl Blau, Pwrfl Pwr, The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow players, and Phonograph in established DIY and rock venues of New York City and throughout the Northeastern US and Canada.

About the name Manson Family Picnic: Originally, we just liked it because we thought we sounded like members of a freakish cult playing happy music together at a picnic. Also, Aaron, one of our lead singers, grew up near the caves where the Manson Family lived for a while. But the significance deepens: In the summer of 2008, we came together in a cabin in upstate New York to record our eponymous EP. Not too long after that recording session, we discovered that the bassist who had recorded with us and played with us until then was little unbalanced. He threatened to kill us and our friends and families while we were staying in his house in the woods, miles from any transportation that could get us safely home. Fortunately, though he broke some glasses, no one was injured, and we've since found a great new bassist, Andrew. But we still feel that the terrifying night we spent trapped in those woods was what finally earned us the right to the name Manson Family Picnic.