Three Man Cannon have just announced their new album, out March 15th on Lame-O Records. Before the release of their new full length, the band is releasing a 7″ for their new single “Building Broken Steps,” along with an exclusive b-side.
Three Man Cannon’s music has always felt personal. Its original lineup has endured throughout a decade that has dispersed its members between Scranton, Philadelphia, and New York, and seen each circulate in and out of other bands. They haven’t all lived in the same place since high school; hours-long road trips are necessary for practice and writing. The result, then, is a labor of love: each song is a snapshot of something intimate, a necessary expression of the longing, frustration, hope, and disappointment that characterizes impeding adulthood.
Through this lens, their output is also a chronology of their growth. With every new release, the band inches further from the anarcho-folk that defined its earliest shows in the basement of guitarist Dennis Mishko’s mom’s house. They were scarcely out of high school—brimming with equal parts indignation and idealism—when they released 2010’s the sound. the fury. The anthemic “Homestead” invokes Steinbeck in its furor: “we’re the messengers of this war/ borne of the soil, between the rich and the poor.”
2012’s Nelson traded the political for the personal, concentrating into music the aching melancholy we stumble upon when we exchange teenage dreams for adult drudgery. It is an exploration of friendships and the loss thereof, of expectation and disappointment, that leaves Matt Schimelfenig and Dennis Mishko at turns crooning and screaming, inviting and rebuffing those closest to them over the sound of moody guitars.
More introspective, more abstract—and often curiously diffident—are the motifs of 2014’s Pretty Many People and 2015’s Will I Know You Then.
Their newest release is a logical next step in this progression. With this album, Three Man Cannon taps into a wellspring of poignancy evasive to youth, articulable only through experience, that they communicate in Larkinesque explorations of daily life. It features ensemble vocal and writing credits that converge, perhaps more than anything, on the notion of acceptance. “Let it be the question/Let it be your bones/Let it be your home/Get used to it,” Schimelfenig enjoins his listener on “Building Broken Steps.”
Each member leaves his fingerprint on this record in a fresh way. Bassist Spenser Colmbs takes his turn on “How a Mouse Could,” poetically examining the darker sides of intimacy and cohabitation through the metaphor of a mouse: “Still I sit back, relax behind the stove,/Think of the things I’d do if you weren’t home./I don’t want to look up to see you.”
This is perhaps the first Three Man Cannon record written by honest-to-goodness adults. Somewhere between the languorous, dreamy guitar and impeccable percussion is the haunting realization that injustices detailed in the sound. the fury. cannot be fixed with a protest song, that the betrayals of Nelson are neither terminal nor particularly uncommon, and that the open-ended questions of Pretty Many People and Will I Know You Then have no resolution.