Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reviews:: Ox Burnout

Yesterday Shane mentioned that very few records are crafted to accentuate the oranges and yellows that grab your eye when the first cold winds hit. While I don’t really agree with that, he certainly gave me a jump off point for the new Ox record. The newly appointed kings of the Sudbury, alt. country scene are fixing to release their new long player, Burnout and it’s perfectly tailored for the mornings when the sun just just can't warm you enough and leaves float sadly to the ground.

On that inevitable day when summer fades, you get hit with reality and are left with lonely nights thinking about the good times long since past and regrets you hold as close as your most treasured childhood memory. If these songs are like a glimpse into front man Mark Browning’s mind, you can see that he’s looking back on the last few years with that same mix of pride and lament. Mark’s drawl still hits you in the gut, but the band seems to have taken a step back from the muscular riffs that you settle into on the road when the frustrations that go along with night after night playing shows and day after day watching the odometer turn. Burnout plays more like a band coming to terms with life than avoiding those realities with booze, weed and the adrenaline you only get when the stage lights clink on.

That common ground helps make Burnout a record you absorb and fall in love with, not just listen to when the mood feels right. When the record opens with Burnout, Mark looks back on the hardships you have to deal with on tour, but unlike so many Springsteen-ian glory days type tracks, you wonder if he wants to leave that life behind. Stolen gear, hangovers, car accidents and the heavy weight of not having a home have taken a toll on the band. You can hear the exhaustion tucked into every line and those disappointments are the type of moments most people try to gloss over. We tend to remember only the best moments, but Mark’s refuses to mask his honesty and when he follows up his road confessions with the melancholic Unknown Legend, you wonder if Mark feels the strain of the band not making it, knowing that they can’t keep up the touring schedule needed to keep the band moving forward.

Really, you could point to any of the seven tracks, settle into the pace and see the shift the band has made, but the obvious track is the reworking of American Lo Fi standout Miss Idaho. The slowed down take on Miss Idaho (redux) strips away the bounce from the original and the harmonies and steel give it a more subdued, back porch feel. That angst has disappeared and the band is more content, not just with the song but with life in general. Even as the song surges to a climax, and the guitars and vocals build you picture the band smiling and laughing. It’s the perfect closer for this record, simply because it lets you remember that no matter how bad you might think it is, how many bad decisions you replay in your mind night after night, it will get better, the sun will come out, your friends will always be there to drink some beers and sing some songs and life is never as bad as you think it is.

Here's the video for another track from the new record, Unknown Legend.

MP3:: Ox - Burnout
LABEL:: Weework Records

Labels: , , , Oxen Talk, , Weewerk

Posted at 8:34 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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