Oxbow – Let Me Be A Woman

51wg79n28al_sl500_aa240_Is music gendered? We shall go with “yes” on this one. Otherwise that whole “glam” thing would have just been dodgy dudes in makeup rather than dodgy dudes in makeup working against cultural norms.

So we shall take it as a given that there are gender conventions at play in the giant fishbowl of bitches, tricks, long-haired rock n’ roll fags, redneck homophobes, effete mustachasioed folksters and strange art school ladies with harps and whatnot. Certain scenes are heavily set one way or the other, and certain people like it that way. Some are also far more inviting than others, both by pedigree and by collusion; the invisible hand throws up horns of its own, to strain a metaphor to the point of stupidity.

Oxbow is a very strange band, and seem to have married the musical spasticity of west coast avant weirdos (Estradasphere, etc) with an angry post-hardcore attitude – i.e. a huge dude stripped down to his underwear and yelling about all sorts of stuff.But it’s not yelling so much as a pained wailing, as if singer Eugene Robinson was having emergency surgery in a field hospital rather than singing in a studio. And that’s the hook. It’s a genuine performance of the type that goes beyond most stereotypes of what counts as rock singing or metal singing or hardcore singing or punk singing and into something that’s akin to David Tibet. Purposeful caterwauling. Not so much the Coptic apocalyptic Jesus-ness, mind you, but that same kind of urgency and vulnerability; that sensation that the artist is reliving a slew of painful memories and experiences.

I can’t say I fully enjoy Let Me Be A Woman. It’s a little emotionally raw. But it’s fascinating and fantastically impressive, especially the raging snarls of “Gal” and the slowcore-esque breakdown upon breakdown of “1000.”

I’d be curious to see what they’re like live, though I’ll hopefully avoid the whole being choked out thing.

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