A 27 track alternative album (1h 18m 25s) — released September 18th 2020 on Gare du Nord Records

Anton Barbeau is an American psychedelic singer-songwriter, multi-instrumantalist and producer originally from Sacramento, California.

Barbeau is known for combining surreal lyrics with pop melodies and has been described as being in the songwriting tradition of Robyn Hitchcock, Syd Barrett, XTC, and The Beatles.

After hitting the 30+ album mark, it's inevitable that the now Berlin-based Anton Barbeau would release a Sacramento-focused, bird-and-suitcase-themed autobiographical double album, right?

Moof Magazine puts it more simply, calling Manbird an "ambitious concept trip about leaving the nest, traveling the world and finding home."

Manbird takes inspiration for its title from the film Lady Bird, which is a coming-of-age-in-Catholic-school story set in Sacramento. Many of the locations in the film are well familiar to Barbeau. Whereas Lady Bird couldn't wait to leave town, "I was quite timid about even stepping out of my precious Midtown, where I'd become a big fish in a small nest. I had major labels calling me up at home and I thought the world would simply come to my door, cash in hand." Obviously it didn't work like that, and Barbeau did finally leave Sacramento, first moving to Alameda, then to England, then to Berlin. "I saw the film Lady Bird in Madrid while on tour with Julia VBH, and it struck me I'd finally left the proverbial nest."

Musically, Manbird is a Jungian travelogue of "memories, dreams and reflections," with Barbeau's unique blend of psychedelic salt-and-sugar pop augmented by unexpected elements that play a part in his story. His first ever song, "Cowboy John," written when he was 8, follows punk-rock boxing anthem "Featherweight," which morphs into the Hare Krishna chant. What this has to do with McKinley Park is hard to explain, but this anti-hero's journey wends its way back home by way of 12-tone serialism, mockingbird solos, mushroomic nursery rhymes and the British folk and classicalism of the "Oxford variation" of the album's title track. Still, while the album wishes to finally see Barbeau land long enough in one place, it instead concludes with the Bryan Poole (Elephant 6) guitar freakery of "Space Force."

A collection of all new songs, written in Berlin and on a farm in Auburn, CA, Manbird was recorded in multiple locations - Berlin, Oxford, Paris and California. There was a deliberate effort to include many musicians from Sacramento, including a few Barbeau had never before worked with like Jonah Matranga. Drummer Michael Urbano was in Barbeau's first proper band, the Joyboys, whose guitarist, Don Hawkins, is also on the album. While Barbeau has worked with Urbano and with bassist Larry Tagg for years, Manbird marks the first time the Bourgeois Tagg rhythm section appears together on an Ant album. Vince Di Fiore from Cake plays on a pair of tracks. In Oxford, Barbeau assembled a chorus of singers for the album's final session. "I'd hoped to gather lots of singers for the record, to have a sort of Greek chorus answering me in various songs. I wasn't able to put it together as hoped, and mostly, I'm acting as my own Greek chorus." He also worked up a special Oxford version of the title track, featuring his Ox cronies Su Jordan, Sharron Kraus and Stornoway's Jon Ouin.

While reviewers always seem to come back to the holy triumvirate of XTC, Julian Cope and Robyn Hitchcock, all acts Barbeau deeply adores, Manbird doesn't reveal any obvious outside influence. Barbeau says, "Maybe it's the fate of an eternally 'culty' artist like myself that reviewers try, helpfully, I think, to compare my work to that of better known acts so to give the reader a point of reference. And my previous release, Kenny vs Thrust, featured a number of older songs with influence firmly on sleeve. Manbird, however, is the sound of me rubbing off on me, acting as my own influence. There are a few moments where I play with the image of other acts I admire - 'Fear of Flying' is meant to have a taste of the drum sound from Fleetwood Mac's 'Brown Eyes,' and 'Memory Tone' was me trying to write an ABBA song! These are both bands I grew up disliking immensely. During the course of making Manbird, though, I fell firmly in love with both bands. I slip into 'Bowie voice' for a section of 'Across The Drama Pond, and the bass is meant to have a bit of DEVO to it, but all in the service of my new wave roots. I look forward to the Goldmine review that compares 'Even The Swans Are Dirty' to Badfinger!"

It's strangely fitting that a global pandemic has grounded our Manbird. "I don't know if I'll be able to go back to Berlin before the album is released, and there will be no touring to promote it. So much uncertainty in the world has left me in a green chair on a farm in the foothills of Northern California. My personal life, my professional life, my health care are all rewired, but I feel incredibly lucky to have landed where I am. I was in a world of my own making with Manbird. Every song on this album has a purposeful vibe, and my writing standards were high. I mean, who doesn't want to live inside a double album modeled after Tusk, The White Album and 666?"

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