It has been fitting that, while trying to interpret the music of Oxes in writing, I have been alternately placated and pissed off. Happily, my tyrannical boss, Wm. Steven Humphrey, scooted out early this afternoon, leaving three wonderful hours free from his insults and self-serving orders. In addition, I enjoyed two delicious hamburgers with extra pickles from McDonald's, and let ketchup drips and onion bits fall into Mr. Humphrey's computer keyboard. On the other hand, I was annoyed by several things, included trying to answer the thousands of Mercury incoming lines while my dumb computer kept crashing, and my soothing Kava Kava tea spilled all over my backpack.
Anyway, Oxes are geniuses of emotional energy. When they're playing loud, they're playing fast. They pit their guitars against each other and then bring them back together, converging on the same riff. Vocals appear rarely, and are limited to wild ranting muted by their blow out of sound. They make me think more quickly, get more pissed off at people who are bothering me, and feel more motivated to leave the house--and just when the screeching tangled noise is almost too much, they reduce their sound to one guitar chord or a near-noiseless hum.
Their live show is as manic-depressive as their music. The two guitar players, Dr. Windsor Castle and New York City, wear ultra-bright colors, stand on black boxes, and play wireless guitars so they can run all around the venue, and stop occasionally to metal-geek out in front of cute girls. At a house show in Portland last year, they ended their set with a high level of theatrical drama, moving in slow motion and removing their guitars in mime-like fashion.
The Oxes are more spastic than most rock bands I listen to, playing music that, after too many listens, can border on grating. Miraculously, however--because their expert equipment-manipulation and complex song structure--they are just short of being annoying. It's as if they've figured out how to ride the line between insanity and brilliance.