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OXES | OXXXES (Monitor)
Forget the supposed public outcry regarding controversial artwork (erm, yeah right), Oxes are three fellas from Baltimore formerly known as New York City, Windsor Castle and Prison (!) - and I mean instead of Chris and Nat etc, not as in "before we were called Van Halen we were..." They name a song after their favourite local chef (Tony Baines) and give others titles like I'm from hell, open a windle. They are members of the Baltimore Rowdy Collective, a bunch of Baltimorons(?) who believe in the principle of "Rowdyism" and bear slogans such as "Education Is For The Stupid". Oh, and they stand on boxes, big wooden boxes when they play live. Ahem!
You could be forgiven for thinking that Oxes were a bunch of retard goofers. And maybe they are. But who the hell cares, because 'Oxxxes', the Bob Weston (Shellac) produced follow up to 2000's 'Oxes', is big and dumb and mighty and glorious, as rock music sometimes needs to be. It's good time rock 'n' roll just like grandpa used to make. Only it's not, quite.

This is AC/DC mangled through the Gysin/Burroughs wringer, all cut-up and jumbled, then hurriedly stuck back together with sticky tape. This is the bastard child of Bastro and some unpronounceable Finnish prog rock band, pulled through the mud, roughed up and brutalised. Stuffed to bursting with riffs the size of small nations, I want to say "this is the spastic bombastic", I don't for a moment know what that means but that is what Oxes do. They shake things up, turn them on their head. They make me wanna scream and holler and kick the chair away and leap into the air scissor kicking.

And why? Because as the album's sole voice at the end of Chyna, Chyna, Chyna so succinctly states "that was fun". And even the most po-faced needs a little fun sometimes.

There is another Baltimore Rowdy Collective slogan that goes "Oxes better than cars", and after listening to this, who am I to argue?

Graham Sefton
May-June 2002