I spent much of 2008 trying to catch up with the releases from 2007 and here I am in 2009 still catching up with that year’s releases. My first experience with the gruff art rock grunts of Oxbow’s lead singer Eugene Robinson was last year when he guested on Conifer’s Crown Fire. Dave Lang from Lexicon Devil commented on wanting to hear more (he’d heard him somewhere else) and I had to agree. I started with Narcotic Story for the simple reason that this is the only record that I could find in a local record store. After repeated listens I’m not sure what all the hype is about. Maybe Narcotic Story is not the best thing they’ve done. Oxbow display some interesting elements in their sound. Robinson’s semi-psychotic, deep throated mumbling is pretty interesting stuff but I wonder just how amazing it could be if the music backing it wasn’t some derivative of early Bad Seeds, 90’s US Hardcore, Tom Waits and dare I say it, the tautness of Helmet. Robinson’s band can certainly play but the idea of Oxbow and what they actually put on their records is at times just a tad disappointing. I just want the music to be a bit messier, a bit more on edge something that does Robinson’s unique vocals a real platform to achieve the unsettling creepiness which he hinted at on Crown Fire. It’s still a record that is worth a listen and some of the tracks are as good as I hoped (see the video below)but crikey it’s a bit inconsistent. I’m keen for any comments from those who’ve listened to more of Oxbow’s back catalogue. Is narcotic story representative or an anomaly?
Down a Stair Backwards