Musically speaking, it's hard to make a convincing case for Hamell on Trial, the one-man band of Brooklyn-based songwriter Ed Hamell. The East Coast anti-folkie remains a rudimentary if relentless guitar strummer, a squeaky if unaffected singer and a prolific if never quite melodic composer. So how did he wind up with that rabid and dorky cult following? It's his humor mostly, a droll, sharply timed delivery that owes as much to his hero Bill Hicks as to his role model Phil Ochs. Hamell has never met a zeitgeist he couldn't puncture in a killing couplet, a sacred cow he couldn't expose as a fraud. Still, this prickly punk has a sweet side, notably on the epic idol worship of "John Lennon" and the genuine "Father's Advice," which sums up his ironic but weirdly engaged world-view in a single line: "You'd better love till you die."
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