Saturday, December 26, 2009

Oxbow- "The Narcotic Story"

This is where things start to get out of hand. This album is the soundtrack to every breakup, every addiction and every delusion you’ve ever dealt with. You just don’t realize it yet.

For those not yet acquainted, Oxbow are a highly unique rock group from San Francisco and are signed to Hydra Head Records. They’ve been around for about twenty years and still manage to make some of the most disturbing, yet listenable, music I’ve ever heard. Yep, misery and self-loathing now can get stuck in your head with the help of Oxbow.

This album, their newest release, was my introduction to this group.  I caught them opening up for Jesu and was sold before the end of the first song. The music is shockingly simplistic and minimal, yet the passion and intensity were unrivaled. Oxbow are definitely not a metal band, but they’re possibly the heaviest group I’ve ever seen. Frontman Eugene Robinson spent most of the time pacing furiously, intimidating the audience and stripping his clothing off until he was in his undergarments.

That said, this album is a monster. It starts off simply with an intro piece into the off-kilter blues of The Geometry of Business, which sets the pace for the rest of the album. The four-piece group is accompanied by a small orchestra and makes great use of it.  As stated earlier, this is clearly the soundtrack to misery and delusions. The melodies are so subtle and gorgeous, yet there is a complete sense of misanthropy and self-loathing in every second of this album. From the disgruntled mumbling kicking off the opening track to the frantic wailing of A Winner Every Time, this album reeks of desperation and desire.

This is probably not the album to put on if you’re going to have a cheerful social gathering, but if you want to learn just how deep human suffering can go, you’ve got to check this album out.  The arrangements are impressive, the vocals are layered and emotive in a way so many popular artists try to achieve but could never hope to understand and the entire atmosphere is just tolerable enough to keep depression from forcing you to hit the eject button. I highly recommend this for anybody that’s enjoyed any of my previous albums.

If you’d like to hear more from Oxbow, I recommend you order their album from your local record store or their website. Even better, if you get the chance you should catch them live. It’s an experience unlike any other.

Watch a live video of the track “Down a Stair Backward” from this album, and catch the full effect.

Visit Oxbow’s official myspace (they update far more regularly here than on their website)


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