What if a Joe Pass/Marc Ribot/Derek Bailey mutant were to record a solo guitar album thematically based on common fears in modern America? Eric Hofbauer’s American Fear! is probably the closest you’ll come to an answer to that question. As a musician, Hofbauer is certainly equipped with the chops to pull off an entire 47-minute album by himself, but chooses to use his gift as a tool for confounding. He sprinkles curious covers through the album, including a slightly askew “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears), a reverent but unrefined reading of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”, an almost unrecognizable rendition of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit”, and a skittish treatment of “Moose the Mooch” (in Johnny Cash style?), light years removed from the bebop era. His provocative originals don’t slouch either, especially the soft, plaintive composition “Her Hiding Place”. Best title? “Bailout Blues”. Recommended.
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