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Oxbow The Narcotic Story

Oxbow - The Narcotic Story
01. Mr. Johnson
02. The Geometry of Business
03. Time, Gentlemen, Time
04. Down a Stair Backward
05. She's a Find
06. Frankly Frank
07. A Winner Every Time
08. Frank's Frolic
09. It's the Giving, Not the Taking
2007 Hydra Head Records

Reviewed by: Nick   //   Published: 8/30/2007

Simply stated, Oxbow is unique. The Narcotic Story is exactly the type of material we've come to expect out of Hydra Head, a label known for peddling a wide range of artists on the indie market. So in that respect, maybe Oxbow's intriguing combination of slightly doomy blues riffs, string accompaniments, and of course, Eugene Robinson's signature vocal ramblings is exactly what one would expect out of a Hydra Head release. Either that or you're just thinking, "What the fuck is a doomy blues riff"

Descriptions are difficult because there are no accurate comparisons for what Oxbow is doing. The album's foundation of instrumentation, showcasing warm bass lines, meandering guitar work that alternates between delicate and abrasive, and dynamically capable drumming is nothing short of fantastic. "A Winner Every Time" switches between somber melody and explosive emotional outbursts. The plodding opening riff of "Frank's Frolic" carries a great weight on its simplistic, but driving shoulders. And then there's the nearly nine-minute long "She's A Find," a slowly developing epic with beautiful string arrangements and strong bass work. And as the track hits each of its successive climaxes, howling guitar work adds yet another dark layer of sound to the already well-structured track. The instrumentation of The Narcotic Story is truly remarkable, and its ability to convey such a gloomy mood is quite impressive.

And, of course, there are the vocals. Robinson's maniacal chants and stricken wails are, to say the least, an acquired taste. Often following a course of their own, his words fall in and out of rhythm with the rest of the band, making them the most inaccessible, although typically the most heralded, quality of Oxbow. This aspect alone caused The Narcotic Story to sit idle in my music collection for a bit of time, as the first few spins didn't prove to be all that agreeable. Slowly, however, this album began to creep into my listening rotation, as its distinctive nature gradually piqued my curiosity.

This record is a journey. It fails to make logical sense at some points. It can switch from melodic to twisted on a dime, yet still maintain a cohesive overall direction. And it can impress with all the strings and keys that one could ever desire. The Narcotic Story is a challenge, but once it starts to make sense, it is well worth the listening effort.

Bottom Line: Fans of experimental rock will love the inaccessible nature of Oxbow's release of The Narcotic Story. It's dark, interesting, and most importantly, original. Go ahead and give it a try.

retarded_fish_frog_   posted 9/20/2007 8:02:01 AM
hxc0148_   posted 9/2/2007 1:21:59 PM
amazing band. amazing album.
Niko_   posted 9/1/2007 6:55:48 PM
morga, low rez streaming is here: http://www.hydrahead.org/hh/oxbow_site/ hope you like. thanks all.
yousuck_   posted 9/1/2007 11:17:52 AM
this review f*cking sucks. all you had to say was oxbow is awesome and scene gays dont apply. maybe throw in the black henry rollins too
zach_   posted 9/1/2007 12:15:40 AM
saw them start a mini riot at sxsw. amazing band. amazing record.

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