Oxbow
Love That's Last: A Wholly Hypnographic and Distur


4.0
excellent

Review

by Hugh Johnson USER (9 Reviews)
August 19th, 2010 | 19 replies | 7,003 views


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Oxbow deliver on a promise, whether you like it or not.

1 of 1 thought this review was well written

When I reviewed The Very Best of Men's Recovery Project for an old blog, I thought that there couldn't be a band less suited for a "greatest hits" release. Obviously, I had forgotten about Oxbow.

To put it simply, Oxbow is one of the most intense and challenging bands in America today. Oxbow sounds like an uneasy mix of the delta blues at its most unhinged and spectral, noise at its most throbbing and fetid, and rock-n-roll at its most debauched. It's possible to eke out thin points of reference: The Jesus Lizard or The Birthday Party, maybe even Neurosis. But Oxbow is an island that no planes fly over.

The focal point of Oxbow is lead vocalist Eugene Robinson. Onstage Robinson is a mountain of seething, tattooed muscle and slippery menace, moaning his way through Oxbow's fierce compositions like the anti-Christ to Henry Rollins' clean-cut Jesus, or a madman from Iggy Pop's nightmares. This is a man capable of deriding Jean Genet's approach to crime as "dilettantish." A handsome, charismatic singer known to choke hecklers into submission is noteworthy in any band, but the deliriously wonderful fact about Oxbow is that the racket kicked up by his band mates matches Robinson's pit fighter intensity. (By the way, that's not a metaphor; he's also a mixed martial artist of considerable skill and experience.)

I've been a bit disingenuous: Love That's Last: A Wholly Hypnographic & Disturbing Work Regarding Oxbow isn't really a greatest hits album. Hydra Head bills it as a disc that "reintroduces the Oxbow canon", which it does in fact do. The first disc is rife with unreleased live versions and improvisations in addition to a handful of re-released tracks. The track selection actually does a decent job of making an unbelievably challenging band almost approachable. This Is What Sleep Looks Like? is a piece of live improvisation that trumps most bands' recorded work in terms of simmering intensity and dynamics. Glimmer Bird is a live mutation of the awesome, hypnotic closing track from An Evil Heat, all pounding tides of glistening feedback and distortion.

As if all this wasn't enough, the second disc is a DVD that features Christian Anthony's awesome documentary, Music For Adults: A Film About a Band Called Oxbow, along with extra live footage. Although the band prioritizes recording over live performance, there's nothing quite like getting an eyeful of Oxbow ("in the flesh" being a particularly apt figure of speech here). The documentary sheds light on the phenomenon whereby Oxbow, when offstage, are actually not the pack of wild-eyed psychopaths their music might suggest; in fact they are rather soft-spoken and personable young men. This seemed true in my limited experience (based solely on a brief conversation with Robinson following a show in LA last year), and the film makes them seem downright endearing. The fact that Robinson's singer-on-crowd violence never occurs without provocation only adds to this, making Oxbow seem like a band that's too real to be allowed to exist.

"For adults" is an apt qualifier for this music, a proper reception of which seems to demand from the listener a level of existential anguish only cultivated through years of failure and disappointment. A lot of bands bill their records as therapy, but Oxbow bleeds authenticity in a way most hardcore bands can only dream of. The band called Oxbow is a raw nerve in today's bland landscape of supposedly alternative music; you owe it to yourself to descend into their world.



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user ratings (11)
Chart.
3.9
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

One of the most under-appreciated bands out there guys. This is a must.

BallsToTheWall
August 19th 2010



44164 Comments


Eugene Robinson IS AWESOME.Good review/band.

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks BallstotheWall. Eugene's awesome, but he's a complete nutcase/douche. Real whack job, but his animosity and attitude towards others are what makes Oxbow work so well.

BallsToTheWall
August 19th 2010



44164 Comments


He's got a book but I have yet to read it.

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I heard about that. I'm intrigued.

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

4 of the 6 I've done were written for a blog that I used to be a part of. I just saved them on my computer, and I figured since the blog's no longer active, I might as well post them here. That's all of them. Now I'm planning on churning out a review once or twice every two weeks and leaving it at that.

ConsiderPhlebas
August 19th 2010



6157 Comments


The singer did an interview in an a magazine over here a while back and he told this story about a guy he beat half to death the week before. He said the guy should feel grateful because he had a gun and knife on him and didn't use them. Not heard much of the music, though. I'll get on it.


Pos.

Inveigh
August 19th 2010



24798 Comments


I thought that there couldn't be a band less suited for a "greatest hits" release. Obviously, I had forgotten about Oxbow.

I like the review, but I was hoping you would explain that statement at some point. Why aren't Oxbow suited for a greatest hits exactly? Your review seems to indicate that this format serves them well..

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I remember writing this with the intention that Oxbow fans would be reading this, so that's my fault. Oxbow's music is so different and "non-user friendly," to put it simply. If you looked up the word "avant garde" in the dictionary, there would be a picture of them right next to it.

Inveigh
August 19th 2010



24798 Comments


ah, so because they're inaccessible they're not suited to an album viewed as a 'greatest hits'?

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Exactly.

accompliceofmydeath
August 19th 2010



4170 Comments


This is probably my least favorite review of yours as you don't talk about the music as much as usual. You seem to talk more about the band members (specifically Robinson) than what's happening on the disc.

I'm not sure if I would like this. Does it sound like a mixture of Neurosis, The Jesus Lizard and The Birthday Party?

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oxbow isn't for everyone at all. If you check out some of their stuff on youtube or whatnot, you'll see what I mean.

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It sounds like the bastard child of The Jesus Lizard and The Birthday Party. It's chaotic but can be quite beautiful at the same time. The reason I didn't talk about the music as much is because most of it is rehashed and live material from previous albums. The rest of the package(the dvd) is about the band and includes live performances, which really give you an idea of what these guys are about.

accompliceofmydeath
August 19th 2010



4170 Comments


What song(s) should I check out?

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, I'd just rec that you check out An Evil Heat and King of the Jews in their entirety.

accompliceofmydeath
August 19th 2010



4170 Comments


I'll take a listen. I love The Jesus Lizard which is why I'm giving this a chance.

EuphoricDysphoria81
August 19th 2010



1152 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just give it a shot. I know people that love the Jesus Lizard and hate Oxbow, though, so don't go in there under the impression that you'll like it just because of The Jesus Lizard.

WoodLawn
August 19th 2010



134 Comments


Totally right about them being underappreciated. I really don't understand why most knowledgable music snobs I know have never even heard of them. I also love the fact that despite the fact they've been going so long, they continue to improve. The Narcotic Story was one of the best albums of 2007.



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