"Oxxxes" (Monitor; 2002)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

Known for their energetic live performances, Oxes are indie rock fan favorites that play oh so joyfully in the so-called math rock genre. I finally had a chance to purchase an Oxes disc so I could find out what I've been missing. "Oxxxes" is eight tracks of seemingly disjointed, but in reality quite organized, sonic tapestries of churning riffs and ridiculous melodies (I use the term 'ridiculous' in a good way, mind you).

Equally adept are drawing the listener in and then pushing them away in a multitude of directions, Oxes present a rowdy set of instrumentals that find their source material from the likes of hardcore, punk, metal, art rock, and almost any form of instrumental rock that you can think of. The music borders on being confrontational (deliberate as you might imagine), but also manages to make you feel comfortable with the band's driving conceptual modus operandi after a few listens.

The only band that I've heard that comes close to Oxes' rock'n'roll mayhem is Philadelphia's Dysrythmia. Of course, just as Dysrythmia are more jazz-oriented and disciplined than most bands, you'll find that the Oxes are a little more free-form and chaotic or at least it seems that way.

While I understand that Oxes' studio recordings don't come close to capturing the live energy and power of their live shows, it's easy to tell from "Oxxxes" that the band must put on one hell of a show in order to garner their sparkling reputation. Besides, any band that uses a phrase like "Sarcasm Does Not Equal Irony" on their cover artwork is going to attract both serious critics and hardcore fans who are in on the band's hijinks.

"Oxxxes" was produced by Oxes.

Oxes are Nat Fowler on guitar, Marc Miller on guitar, and Christopher Freeland on drums.

For more information visit http://www.monitorrecords.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2004 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.