Rhythm & Views

Scott H. Biram

Even disregarding the interpersonal issues, the sheer economics of touring with a band are so daunting that it's a wonder there aren't even more solo singer songwriters. Lucky for us, the solitary-brooder paradigm has been busted up by two loners who pack enough noise, grit, raunch and sass to wake your booty and churn your chassis to kingdom come. Naturally, they're from Austin, where new music ideas seem to grow on trees.

Scott Biram messes with a bayou punk sound you'd expect, only with three guitars and at least one tasteless confederate flag. He sings of blood, sweat, bad roads, heartbreak and at least three chickens, in a voice alternately wounded and menacing. The set highlights are sequenced in the middle, where Biram careens on and off the hellbound highway. Between his originals "Raisin' Hell Again" and "Whiskey," he makes a stab at redemption in the hollerin' gospel rave-up "I See the Light/What's His Name (Jesus)." The latter includes an entirely inexplicable, but somehow fitting, instrumental quote of the Beatles' "Come Together." Biram plays a yodeling cowboy on Jimmie Rodgers' "Muleskinner Blues," and you can feel the Delta mud on his traditional talking blues, "Someday Baby," but he also does Tin-Pan-Alley up fine with a Leadbelly feel on the traditional "Wreck My Car." He ends with a quote from "Hey, Hey Baby," props to Otis Redding and Big Bill Broonzy. Speed demons will appreciate his original "Truck Driver," which passes through geography with the velocity of an 18-wheeler with bad brakes on the downside of Yarnall Hill. The record ends with 1:17 of CB transmissions.

Of course, 21st century technology enables a great leap off the street corner for a one-man band, and both Biram and John Schooley process the heck out of vocals. "Destroying ..." has a bit more polish overall, partly because Schooley's voice is a little smoother (which isn't saying a lot), and the sound is more finished, even relaxed in spots, like the easy-going "She Ain't Comin' Home." The packaging is slick, too, including extravagant liner notes featuring a diatribe against modern music attributed to lead Luddite Ned Ludd. Still, the energy of Schooley's music is as confrontational as it is infectious, and he raises the ante with his attention-grabbing resonator guitar. His faultless feel for the blues animates Billy Boy Arnold's "I Wish You Would" and Howlin' Wolf's "Killin' Floor," and those hollers seem heartfelt on Rufus Thomas' "Tiger Man."

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