I know the punk-funk thing has gotten tired. Old,
boring and repetitive. Who do these bands think they
are, anyway? Copping the way they do. Jumping the
bandwagon like they do. Following the herd with
shallow visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads
like they do. How can so many of them really believe
they'll succeed riding the same unimaginative wave?
It's all so sad and pathetic and disheartening, isn't
it? Unoriginal and bland, it is.
It's true. With the
recycling of any musical phenomenon comes a pack of
soulless imitators. And a band like Oxford Collapse. A
band that should be a bitter bore but, by some
act of God unbeknownst to me, overcomes the odds. The
references are there. The Wire-y riffs are there. The
spastic beats are there.
But so is something else.
Dunno what it is really. Must be that element you
can't quite put your finger on. That thing that's
inherent in all good music, but that you can't pin
down. Still, it does something for you. It makes you
feel. It makes you believe. And makes you forget where
it came from, makes you happy that someone was able to
carry the torch without snuffing it out. And that they
did. Even if they are [insert long drawn-out sigh
here] from Brooklyn.
So how did they do it? Good
question. Might have something to do with the way
their music feels so effortless and confident, gritty
and graceful. You can tell they weren't trying too
hard. They weren't looking to replicate a sound or an
attitude. They just wanted to make the music they loved. Also it seems they were
willing to lend parts of their collective self to the
music and came out with something original because of
that. What they offer is a cross between tame and
fired-up, melodic and heavy, calm and snotty. What
they offer is an excellent continuation of punk and indie rock's legacy. And
if you're a fan of either,
you'll dig this.
"Last American Virgin" builds and
rumbles, the guitar chiming alongside, while the lead
singer yelps and whines and demands to be heard in
classic punk-rock fashion. The slow, sweet, acoustic
"Flora y Fauna" is a brief break from speedier,
dancier cuts like "Proofreading," which features
high-pitched, squealing vocals, ringing riffs and
whiplash beats you can shake to, no problem. The
repetitive, grinding, nonsense behind "Flaws"
feels a bit like '80s SST bands, while the jerking
rhythms, heavy grooves and playful beats that make up
"Cracks in the Causeway" fall someplace between The
Clash and XTC. Oxford Collapse may borrow from the
history books but, boasting the all-too-rare
combination of creativity, personality and
originality, they come out on top.