Various Artists

Attack of the One-Man Bands

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Attack of the One-Man Bands is exactly that, 58 different one-man bands spread over two discs of raw, crude, and fascinatingly brilliant blasts of sonic madness, most of it so ragged and urgent that it makes vintage punk sound like Air Supply. So unhinged that it's probably a serious health risk, this set delivers cut after cut of glorious bedlam with all the subtlety of an amplified jackhammer set loose in a glass house, and anyone sane should probably hate it, but like a child's tantrum, it's impossible to ignore, and like the child that throws that tantrum, it's impossible not to love. Each of these one-man bands is currently active, and while most are decidedly lo-fi, even the ones who wandered into real studios seem to treat them like giant boom boxes, creating a clatter and din that shoves the needle into the red from note one. While a good deal of what is here is vicious punk rockabilly like Phillip Roebuck's crude, spare, and dangerously kinetic "Jackass Blues" or Pete Yorko & the One Man Music Band's "Like Me" assault, some of it, like Royer's One Man Band's version of the fiddle classic "Train on the Island" or 1Man Banjo's deconstruction of "Mole in the Ground" (simply called "Mole" here), is seriously bent and skewed bluegrass mountain music. Trainwreck Washington's banjo piece called "Walked All Night" sounds like an old wax cylinder field recording, and feels like it was recorded a hundred years ago. Uncle Butcher's "No Judge, No Trial" is as raw and frightening as a running chain saw thrown on a feather bed, chickens flying everywhere, as they say. Then there's the Amazing Elephant Man's primal "Can't Go Outside," which is literally a child's frustrated rant given rhythm and electricity. Scary, unsettling, fascinating, delightful, vital, urgent and insistent, these 58 tracks are somehow -- for all their abrasiveness -- oddly comforting. Just like that one vigilant dog barking away relentlessly down the street late at night, it means someone is watching after all, and they ain't gonna keep quiet about it, even if the rest of the world is trying its best to sleep.

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