Modernstate

The Burning Beard

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If somebody gave beardy anti-fascist Sam Schauer a McGovern sticker and a "Free John Sinclair" T-shirt and took away his drum machine, his politically inclined folk-rock would sound every bit as at home in the pre-Watergate era as it does in the equally roiled post-9/11 world. The Burning Beard, Schauer's second album of acoustic guitars, progressive politics, and half-looped/half-improvised drums, is pretty much guaranteed to annoy anyone who voted even once for George W. Bush thanks to Schauer's non-strident but no-punches-pulled lyrics to songs like "Blood Money" and "A Call to Arms," but Modernstate isn't about sloganeering. These 11 fragile, insular songs, with Schauer's halting, seemingly Nick Drake-influenced semi-whisper of a voice, are too delicate for war rallies; they're more like what plays in the crash pad around 3 a.m. the morning after, when excitement is battling exhaustion to a draw.

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