The music of Scott H. Biram, aka The Dirty Old One-Man Band, serves as a convincing polemic against musical pigeonholing. The Austin musician is a mad chef set loose in the kitchen with nothing but a guitar and a blowtorch, but he'll turn out tasty dishes all day long, including those on his latest album, The Bad Testament. The plaintive vocal on the second track, "Still Around," floats on a river of reverb as he sings, "I am the weapon in your hand/I am the storm that drags you down." It's a raw but pretty slice of alt-country. After "Red Wine" electrifies things a bit, "Trainwrecker" hits like a firehose with furious fuzzed-out guitar played at a breakneck pace. Biram is all over the place on this album, sounding at one moment like your depressed buddy singing in the backyard after eight cans of Busch, then like a raging punk band spitting invective from some shithole stage.
Tempos speed up and slow down, the singing veers off-key and the playing is more about passion than precision. Consistency seems an afterthought—it sounds like each song was recorded in a different broom closet at the puzzle factory. But this maelstrom of a collection comes straight from the soul. No filter, no editor. Just a pure, unvarnished blast of honest, potent music from a guy who has a lot to say and doesn't waste time wrapping it up in a pretty package.
Scott H. Biram plays the Top Hat Thu., March 30, at 9 PM. $10/$8 advance.