BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Singer and songwriter Anton Barbeau, born of Sacramento, late of Berlin, has made many, many fine records over the past couple of decades. The field he plows is a personal one, seeded, perhaps, by Syd Barrett and Robyn Hitchcock, but flowered by blossoms only he could have coaxed from the earth. A solid argument could be made, however, that he’s reached his highest peaks with Three Minute Tease.
Joined by bassist Andy Metcalfe and drummer Morris Windsor – known a lifetime ago as Robyn Hitchcock’s Egyptians – Barbeau makes absolutely marvelous power trio pop on Bite the Hand. The band’s second LP contains some of the most straightforward rocking of Barbeau’s career; “Beanpole,” “Bravely Fade Away” and “Ciao Ciao Chicken” almost feverishly drive their hooks with surprising aggression, all without stinting on a stitch of melody. Things get more drenched in acid as the record progresses; “Tie My Laces,” “Wave Hello” and “Tell Me” (featuring Nick “Bevis Frond” Saloman on lead guitar) essay grand psychedelic balladry, while “Coffee That Makes the Man Go Mad” swirls in its salute to mind-altering substances of all stripes. “Drinking Horn,” meanwhile, jauntily meanders off into its own separate universe, its bouncy melody and witty wordplay pushing Barbeau into Cole Porter territory.
Bite the Hand is an always enjoyable, frequently brilliant collection, and yet another highlight in an always compelling career.
DOWNLOAD: “Tell Me,” “Beanpole,” “Drinking Horn”