SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN, "Fire Escape"
Playing upon legendary critic Greil Marcus' famous line in his American folk analysis "Invisible Republic," "New, Weird America" was a phrase coined by Scottish writer David Keenan in his cover storyPlaying upon legendary critic Greil Marcus' famous line in his American folk analysis "Invisible Republic," "New, Weird America" was a phrase coined by Scottish writer David Keenan in his cover story for the Aug. 2003 issue of the Wire. He meant it to describe the new generation of underground acts embracing the psychedelic commune folk of such radical '60s acts as the Holy Modal Rounders, Pearls Before Swine and the Fugs and taking it to bolder, at times, more brutal levels.
And gracing the cover of that most noted issue was Boston's Sunburned Hand Of The Man as the poster boys of the movement. After making several cacophonic and directionless stabs at introducing some semblance of a cohesive rhythmic pattern to quell the chaos, most notably 2004's "Rare Wood," Sunburned brings in the big guns by hiring Four Tet himself, Kieran Hebden, to produce "Fire Escape." The result is the best thing these guys have done yet. Hebden blesses the band with hotter beats than he put on his own recent album, particularly on tracks like the eight-minute head twister "Nice Butterly Mask" and the funky, drone-y title cut. And just take warning -- don't listen to the 15-minute freak-out "The Wind Has Ears" alone in an empty building. -- Ron Hart