Sunday, October 5, 2008 - at BAR:
SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN w/Centipede Eest
254 Crown St
New Haven CT
FREE - 9:00PM - 21+
DIRECTIONS: Click here
Sunburned Hand of the Man is a band in the loose sense of the word; it's better described as a banner under which a collective of musical freaks have gathered. Based in Boston, Sunburned Hand of the Man grew out of trio which called itself Shit Spangled Banner and featured John Molony and Rob Thomas who would later become anchors of the Sunburned coterie. According to Molony, Shit Spangled Banner was conceived as "a cross between the Melvins and Sonic Youth," but the group was fast picking up a host of like-minded dropouts and musical wanderers who would show up at their loft, and their sound soon began to incorporate everything from early American folk music to drone, free jazz, space rock, and funk. After one release, 1996's No Dolby No DBX (released as part of Ecstatic Yod's Ass Run series), the group changed it name to Sunburned Hand of the Man. A string of self-released CD-Rs followed, including Mind of a Brother (1997) and Piff's Clicks (1998). With 2001's Jaybird, Sunburned reached a new pinnacle, forging their disparate elements into a distinct (if not complete) sounding collection. By this time like-minded groups such as Jackie-O Motherfucker, Tower Recordings, and the No-Neck Blues Band (who are somewhat of a sister group to Sunburned) were also coming into their own and gaining critical applause. The term "free folk" started popping up in an attempt to describe these bands and Sunburned were seen as leaders (or at least co-leaders) in a musical movement of sorts, a movement which had its antecedents in Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music as much as in avant-jazz and noise groups. Sunburned Hand of the Man continued to refine and expand their sound on CD-R and vinyl-only releases such as 2001's Wild Animal, 2002's Headdress, and 2003's Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What. Each release was a rough but often brilliant indicator of where the band was headed, rather than finished statements of where they had been. In August of 2003 the profile of the band raised considerably when they were featured on the cover of the respected British music magazine Wire, appearing above the headline "New Weird America." (allmusic.com)
At the heart of the music made by Pittsburgh’s Centipede E’est is a subtle yet ever-present vein of dub. It’s not most obvious compliment that you’ll hear paid to a punk band, nor is it something that should really work (Fugazi excepted). But Centipede E’est’s reverby, echo-tweaked live show is nothing short of mesmerizing: take a noisy, energetic rock band and splice in preternaturally precise control of rhythm.
Their “Sinking Boats” opens with focused math-rock guitars—fans of Rodan and Slint may well nod their heads in recognition. This first section is deeply claustrophobic: monochromatic vocals, creaking and lyrics that evoke the title (it’s maybe the best nautical-rock track since Les Savy Fav’s “Reformat”). After “Guess the punchline to this joke/Is hidden in our deaths,” there’s an uptick, the bass comes up in the mix and ushers in something new, something more even, an interlude that calms things down while retaining the tautness of the first section.
And then you realize that it’s all been about restraint. Drummer Samuel Pace picks up his shaker and suddenly the guitars go mad—this is the part where the crowd goes berserk (or at least they damn well should). The last 50 seconds find Pace devastating his drum set and slowly, irreversibly, it becomes clear that every instrument is now playing a percussive role, escalating and escalating until finally, finally, it breaks. - TOBIAS CARROLL Wednesday, October 25th, 2006