"One Legged Cowboy" by Dan Friel
With his band Parts & Labor, Dan Friel turns simple punk songs into awe-inspiring maelstroms of noisy fury; the calm bits are like the momentary peacefulness of a hurricane's eye, waiting to come out on the other side. But before he had a band, Friel stuck largely to the soothing bits; his latest solo album stays there as well. The song titles suggest a loose Western opera, like an Ennio Morricone score built out of junk keyboards and cheap guitars. "One Legged Cowboy" floats cooing, wordless vocals over an appropriately hopping glitch, while "Appliances Of Bremen" sounds like a bunch of excitable kitchen tools spazzing out. As with his band, Friel integrates blasts of noise into simple punk anthems: Much of "Singing Sand" sounds like someone revving a lawnmower, but a recurring bass and shrill melody turn it into a triumphant desert march. "Desert Song" simply recycles the same effective power riff over a hyperkinetic backdrop. Parts & Labor awes listeners into submission, but solo, Friel just toys with them, offering non-threatening blasts of noise with the same simple melodies.