“Lover Like You”
“Bad Boy Stepping”
“Get Out of My Way”
Total Hip Replacement
by Carly Schorman
So, I’ve been a Playboy Manbaby fan since the band’s inception or, at least, since their very first show. And, as I’ve stated before, they keep getting better with every single album they put out (which is really saying something considering the band has been consistently putting out music since 2012).
I’m not bragging when I claim to have loved the Manbabies since they were Babybabies. I’m just trying to qualify the following statement: their new album really is their best album ever, hands down.
Playboy Manbaby will release Don’t Let it Be this coming weekend at The Trunk Space in downtown Phoenix. This much-anticipated follow-up to 2014’s Electric Babyman contains 11 feisty tracks that mark real growth for the band, musically speaking.
The songs on Don’t Let it Be are refined in a way we haven’t heard before from the punk-funk outfit. They go beyond the raw explosiveness of earlier releases to carefully constructed songcraft. And they do so without sacrificing that savage emotional force that made them a crowd favorite early on.
Don’t Let it Be kicks of with “You Can Be a Fascist Too” – the first single off the album which was released just in time for that inauspicious inauguration. Then the second track, “Last Man Standing”, highlights the band’s horns section – David Cosme (trumpet) and Ricky Smash (sax and we know that’s not your real name) – before “Bored Broke & Sober” takes over. “Cadillac Car” is already to be a crowd favorite and is in contention for personal favorite from the album along with the apocalyptic “I’m So Affluent” and the super rambunctious number, “White Jesus”.
The album bears the mark of maturation, not just in the lyrics, but in the instrumentation as well. The orchestration is thoughtful, impeccably timed, and, well, rowdy as fuck.
Robbie Pfeffer, lyricist and vocalist, has a reputation for being a blitzkrieg onstage. Offstage, however, he’s the guy that will pet your dog and ask about your mother. Rather than suggesting that these are two separate and oppositional expressions, I’m putting forth the argument that Pfeffer is the quintessential example of the much-maligned millennial. He’s the meta-millenial. Kind-hearted, community-focused, and facing a world that keeps threatening collapse with a can-do attitude. The existential angst runs high in these young ones, but that’s not going to stop them from cold-crushing outdated conventions with their dad-staches and second hand clothes. They were born to rage against the dying of the light. That mixture of humor and personal fortitude comes through in the lyrics on this album in high shine.
If you go in for the riled-up cross-genre style of music Playboy Manbaby has become known for over the years, Don’t Let It Be might be you’re favorite album this year. You’ll laugh. You’ll dance. You might call your boss and quit your job so it might be best to hide your phone before smashing that play button. This album has that fury in equal measure to that signature Playboy Manbaby humor.
In keeping with the “For the Record” tradition, I had the chance to ask Robbie Pfeffer some questions about the album, the impending release show, and what’s next for Playboy Manbaby.
YabYum: Let’s start with all the details. Where did you record the album? Who helped out?
Robbie Pfeffer: We recorded with Eamon Ford at his old house, then at Chad[Dennis, the drummer]’s house, then at his new house. Lots of different houses. A ton of people have offered me great feedback on this album and helped it become what it is. Also we’re really stoked to have Lolipop and Dirty Water Records help make it a tangible thing!
So, what’s with the title? Do you bear some Beatles’ ill will?
I think it fits the album pretty well, it kind of sets the tone that this is not going to be a “chill” experience.
With previous releases, the tracks seem a bit more of a cathartic drive. That energy is still very much present on the new album, but it seems like there’s more of a focus on songcraft, both lyrically and instrumentally. Has PBMB shifted their approach to songwriting? Or is this just the natural effects of the maturation that evolves from playing together for several years?
Ever since this band formed we always heard that we are band that doesn’t translate well past the live setting. So we really wanted to make a record that stands on it’s own even if you’ve never seen us. That’s the goal, at least.
On a personal writing level I’m not trying to hide the meaning of what we’re talking about in any way any more. I want to take the most direct path to the point I can find. I really don’t want subjectivity anymore, I want specific meaning. That might change in the future, but for now, that’s how I’m approaching writing.
One of the things I like most about PBMB is the band’s ability to tap into the current cultural malaise and channel that angst into some sort of purifying flurry. As the principal songwriter for PBMB, would you say that’s an unintended consequence? Or is there some underlying philosophy at work here?
I’m an anxious dude and I try to stay alert to the societal changes around me. Music has been a way for me to work that out without drowning in my own existential dread. Also, I know I’m not the only person who questions what it means to be a person and the dynamics of power that exist in this hyper-active world we live in so if people can know that it freaks me out too, but I’m still trying my best, maybe that’ll be comforting to some people. Really I just want everybody to treat everyone else with a little more empathy and kindness.
It seems like you’re a real nice guy (irl) so my guess is that you just have a real low bullshit tolerance level to manifest the sort of aggression we see onstage. Is there a line for you between the performative persona and the other guy? Or is Playboy Manbaby the place to purge all that aggression so you’re not punching people in the throat? The people want to know.
That’s very kind of you! I really disdain violence of any kind. My hope is that when people are dancing at shows they can respect everyone around them and make sure that while they’re having a good time they’re not ruining anyone else’s good time. Generally people have been really great about this, but in the few instances where it’s gotten out of hand we have no issue stopping a show to make sure everyone gets to enjoy a safe, inclusive environment.
We’re a band of nerds and outcasts and we’re not about to be a platform for macho dudes to beat up on vulnerable people trying to have a good time. If anyone feels uncomfortable at our show for any reason please contact any of us and we will address it immediately without question.
The release show happens this coming weekend and the lineup is pretty stellar. Want to tell the people of the internet what they can expect by way of lineup and location?
I’m super excited about this line-up. We ran into the Thin Bloods dudes on NYE and were excited to hear after they’ve all been scattered across the country and busy with other stuff they happen to be back in Phoenix. We’ve shared a ton of great memories playing with them and they’re one of my all-time favorite bands so that’s fantastic news. Also, super stoked on The Darts, Genre, and Andy Warpigs. All great musicians and great people who bring rad stuff to the community.
What’s next for Playboy Manbaby? Touring? Videos? Sit back and relax for a while as reward for a job well done?
Hopefully, all of the above. We took way too damn long on this record and I never wanna take that long again. We’ve got like 10 new songs that we haven’t recorded and we just wanna make as much art as we can until we collapse.
Do not miss the Playboy Manbaby Album Release /// Thin Bloods Reunion show happening Saturday, February 25 at the Trunk Space or you will be so sorry.
You might be familiar with producer Brandyn Burnette. After all, we’ve featured him on YabYum before so you should know him. Anyway, Burnette wrote this track on his 26th birthday and brought it to Rillakill to help bring the hit to life. “The Freshest” has that slick radio style that immediately gets you dancing and stays stuck in your head for days. Consider that your only warning. The crisp production and catchy hooks of “The Freshest” won’t let go of listeners. Give the single from Rillakill and Bradyn Burnette a listen below or head here for your very own digital copy.
HipHop, funk, and electropop melt together in this banger from Lucille Crew, an international act that originated in Tel Aviv. “Something” grooves with club energy while the melody sticks to you like glue. Or sweat. The lushly layered monotone vocals really sold me though. Give “Something” from the Lucille Crew a listen below. This single is just a little sampling from their forthcoming album, Respect the Dawn, which is due out this Spring.
Retro synths and a funky hook really make “Creature of the Night” sizzle. The single was produced in collaboration as an international undertaking combining the efforts of Amsterdam-based producer Berry Juice and Brooklyn-based vocalist Josh Tobias. Part of a two-track single that dropped last December (available here), “Creature of the Night” feels like driving through has just enough contemporary cool to keep the 80s throwback style from inflating your hair. Let’s hope “Creature of the Night” is just one of the many collaborative tracks that emerge from this partnership. Give the single a listen below…
The Aussie artist known as Swindail has an uncommonly self-effacing attitude for a producer, but you can’t tell that from listening to his slick singles. “Jussright” mixes chill but upbeat energy with all the little textural niceties that take a track from amateur hour to totally pro. The vocal additions from SACHI and Naji help Swindail capture that breezy summertime vibe that defines “Jussrite”. If it’s winter here that means it’s summer Down Under, right? All of us above the equator get a a little while longer to learn all the words to “Jussrite” before we hear this single on those poolside playlists. Give the single from Swindail a spin below or head here to snag your own copy before those temperatures get turned up.
This song is about two days spent driving cross-country to visit a dying friend. Somber, yes, but funky too. The Seattle trio known as Black Giraffe offers up a foxy R&B/rock sound that’s backed by a solid groove. There’s an added experimental layer that keeps things interesting in a modern way. Give “Kansas” a spin below…
Unified Highway fuses the talents of Eric Rachmany (Rebelution vocalist/guitarist) and Amp Live (producer, DJ, remixer formerly of Zion I). The duo creates a kickback vibe on their new single, “Are You That Somebody”, with the help of a few musician friends. The track has a reggae twist but you can hear a melting pot of styles from electropop to soul and beyond. Meander down that Unified Highway with their track “Are You Somebody” below or get your very own copy here.
Chad Phillips is the Jamaican singer/producer/songwriter who performs under the moniker Dahj. His slinky new single “Size Up” fuses R&B, Dancehall, and HipHop for a fresh sound with island flavor. If you dig “Size Up”, I suggest checking out other singles available from Dahj. He only recently moved from the role of producer to center stage so he only has a few tracks under his belt. But fear not, Dahj is currently hard at work on his debut EP. Until then, enjoy “Size Up” below or head here to get your own digi-download.
No one commands a crowd quite like Playboy Manbaby.
It helps that the band crafts feisty hits make you want to pump your fist, shake your ass, and scream your head off. So it should be no surprise that the band has sold out venues all across town from The Trunk Space to the Rebel Lounge to the Crescent Ballroom.
This six-piece superband brings enough energy to the stage to revive a funeral parlor, but when you set them before a packed-out house of writhing fans, Playboy Manbaby delivers a memorable experience every time.
Maybe that’s why they’ve performed this year with such an array of diverse acts, from Jared & The Mill to The Father Figures. Playboy Manbaby is a band that everyone should experience live. Rowdy, unrelenting, and more fun than a monkey on mescaline.
Check out their “Live at Valley Bar” video below to see what we mean…
Previous Best Live Band Award Winners:
Domenico is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and producer – all talents he demonstrates in his new single, “Real Good Thing”. If that weren’t impressive enough, this artist is only 18-years-old. The mellow permutations on this track will be sure to initiate sway while you’re listening and the subtle layers of vocals throughout the song suggest a strong understanding of song construction. Domenico is definitely a young artist you’ll want to keep an eye on. Listen to “Real Good Thing” here…
Ben Zaidi combines pensive lyrics with minimal electronica created in his Seattle bedroom. The result is memorizing. “On Saturday” possesses a subtle beauty like rain on a window or dust particles dancing in a beam of sunlight. The track is more along the lines of future soul in the vein of James Blake than a traditional R&B track, but I would argue that Zaidi’s new single is both soulful and uniquely grafted to its rhythm. So there. Whatever genre you want to cram “On Saturday” into, take a moment to get chill with the music of Ben Zaidi.
The Boston-based act known as Kyle Thornton & The Company released a new track from their sophomore (and forthcoming) effort. “Fly Girl” presents a funky, fresh style that reminds me a little of Bad Rabbits. Combining elements of HipHop, R&B, and funk, “Fly Girl” will help you get your jam on. If you dig what you’re hearing, delve further into the online musical offerings from Kyle Thornton & The Company. This is a talented bunch.
This is not Chris Jamison’s first rodeo. As a contestant and third place finalist on The Voice, Jamison has already seen some of the ugly in-and-outs of the industry. After being signed to Republic Records, Jamison is ready to move out on his own and “Truth” is the first single from his independent music venture. R&B isn’t just about make-out vibes. It’s also about problem solving in a relationship, then making out. If you dig “Truth” consider checking out the artist’s debut EP, I Am Chris Jamison, here.
Once you give “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong with That” a spin, you won’t be surprised to discover that The Marcus King Band comes to us from Greenville, SC. Infusing blues with funk and Southern Rock, The Marcus King Band has their own R&B style; something a little gritty and a lot of fun. “Ain’t Nothin’ Wrong with That” comes to us from the band’s new album, due out on October 7th, so if you like what you’re hearing, you can join us in the wait for the full release.
This smooth single from DecadeZ is the title track from his forthcoming release. The Bay-area emcee/producer creates a chill vibe before laying out some serious relationship goals in the lyrics. “Loved” is a promising introduction to DecadeZ new release which is due out later this year. Check out the new single below and join us in the wait for Loved, the full release.
R&B artist Sabrie Tramble started recording at age 13 so you can be sure that by the time she dropped the vocals for “Not the One”, she was ready. With influences including Faith Evans and Mary J. Blige, she had some pretty big shoes to fill, but I feel she lives up to the job. Sabrie’s vocals are on point on “Not the One”, classic and refined while retaining their soulful edge. The production is stellar too, sounding like a classic throwback jam you should know the words to. Released by the 2621MusicGroup out of Houston, Sabrie’s keeping her eye on worldwide recognition. Preview “Not the One” below, then purchase the jam for your personal collection here.