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Sunburned Hand of the Man

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Sunburned Hand of the Man is a band in the loose sense of the word; it's better described as a banner under which a collective of musical freaks have gathered. Based in Boston, Sunburned Hand of the Man grew out of trio which called itself S**t Spangled Banner and featured John Moloney and Robert Thomas who would later become anchors of the Sunburned coterie. According to Moloney, S**t Spangled Banner was conceived as "a cross between the Melvins and Sonic Youth," but the group was fast picking up a host of like-minded dropouts and musical wanderers who would show up at their loft, and their sound soon began to incorporate everything from early American folk music to drone, free jazz, space rock, and funk. After one release, 1996's No Dolby No DBX (released as part of Ecstatic Yod's Ass Run series), the group changed it name to Sunburned Hand of the Man. A string of self-released CD-Rs followed, including Mind of a Brother (1997) and Piff's Clicks (1998). With 2001's Jaybird, Sunburned reached a new pinnacle, forging their disparate elements into a distinct (if not complete) sounding collection. By this time like-minded groups such as Jackie-O Motherfucker, Tower Recordings, and the No-Neck Blues Band (who are somewhat of a sister group to Sunburned) were also coming into their own and gaining critical applause. The term "free folk" started popping up in an attempt to describe these bands and Sunburned were seen as leaders (or at least co-leaders) in a musical movement of sorts, a movement which had its antecedents in Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music as much as in avant-jazz and noise groups. Sunburned Hand of the Man continued to refine and expand their sound on CD-R and vinyl-only releases such as 2001's Wild Animal, 2002's Headdress, and 2003's Trickle Down Theory of Lord Knows What. Each release was a rough but often brilliant indicator of where the band was headed, rather than finished statements of where they had been. In August of 2003 the profile of the band raised considerably when they were featured on the cover of the respected British music magazine Wire, appearing above the headline "New Weird America."

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