The Compact 1@AX (one at a time)
(2014, Choking Chicken Records)
A lot of personalities are happening in the Compact, which is curious, because, essentially, the band is a duo. Erin E. Hobson and Steven W. Ross have been making music together since 2008, and 1@AX (one at a time) is their third eclectic disc together. A quote on the band's website notes the pair's "deep grooves drawn from multiple chapters of the American songbook." That puts their ambitiously wide span of styles in scope. The opener, "It's a Wash" is strutting, harmony-laden pop. "Dirty Minds" veers toward piano-driven New Orleans stomp. "The 24th of May" pits NYC beat poetry against the most spot-on Aimee Mann cop in history. And "The Worm" is funky jazz, live onstage.
The album's title feels appropriate, at least in regard to the genre-hopping that's going on—after all, where else will you hear tunes by organist Jimmy McGriff and Ani DiFranco on one disc, much less alongside the inexplicable Suicide Commandos-inspired thrash of "Bite Me"? But when it hops, the Compact does it right. Guitars grind, bump, and coo; vocals soar and scuffle; and hired drummers like Gary Burke and Stephen Marnell make it all happen rhythmically. Good stuff. Hobson, thankfully, hasn't lost touch with her own singer-songwriter roots, and the best song on 1@AX (one at a time) is the ethereal "Every Story," which might as well be a Lisa Loeb cover, and feels just as good. Chokingchicken.net.