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Amps For Christ - Every Eleven Seconds

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Artist: Amps For Christ

Album: Every Eleven Seconds

Label: 5 Rue Christine

Review date: Jun. 2, 2006

Barnes, or Ranger Barnes as he is described here, formed Amps for Christ as a way to marry his love for folk and hardcore music with his faith in Jesus. Creating a unique sound from the belly of homemade stringed instruments and amplifiers, his is a perversely bucolic hybrid of Appalachian and British Isles folk idioms and the hardcore noise of his work with Man is the Bastard and Bastard Noise.

Despite Every Eleven Seconds being Amps’ ninth full length release, the group (Barnes is never without his loyal pool of collaborators) continues to sound as distinctive as ever. They have easily avoided being subsumed into the whole new weird America racket (both meanings of the word are applicable) to produce the kind of bastardized outsider folk that other pretenders would willingly give up their original issues of First Utterance for.

Every Eleven Seconds is a little more abrasive then its predecessor, 2004’s The People At Large. While tracks like “Cock o’ the North” and “Sweet Dove” (a beautiful and nostalgic version of a tune from Barnes’ youth) showcase the group’s continuing love affair with traditional forms, the knives are elsewhere unsheathed. Titles like “Augmented/Demented,” “Violated” and “”I Hate This Dumpster” betray Barnes’ bad-boy punk past and don’t fail to deliver on their promise of chaos. Electronic freak-outs, primitive beats and mangled voices accompany blazing guitar infernos the likes of which have not been heard since Paul Leary’s best jams with prime time Butthole Surfers.

Like other Amps for Christ albums, several spoken word pieces are scattered throughout the set, but the Gysin/Burroughs style psycho-babble of “Thompson Hunter,” “Chorus” and “Shiploaf,” written and confidently read by Larry White, all work far better than similar previous pieces. And just to ensure that all musical bases are covered, Barnes finds time for some Eastern mysticism with “Proof Man,” a simple sitar-led raga with “tabla-in-a-box” accompaniment and even some power chord balladry on “WIB,” which fields a distinctly Pink Floyd/Neil Young flavor.

While not every track on Every Eleven Seconds is a sure fire winner, the hit to miss ratio is more than favorable. Moreover, Amps For Christ manage to maintain its original voice amongst those all too happy to bury themselves inside their own categorical sepulcher.

By Spencer Grady

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