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The Oxes - Half Half & Half / Everlong

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Artist: The Oxes

Album: Half Half & Half / Everlong

Label: Monitor

Review date: May. 1, 2002

In a fairly short amount of time, the Oxes seem to have dethroned countless others in the indie rock realm as the reigning kings of smartass. While it has been some time since their last full-length release, they staved off their growing fan base nicely with a few tours (complete with now-trademarked double wireless guitar roaming hijinks) as well as a split 10" with Arab on Radar (which, of course, actually featured the Oxes on both sides). The laughter had barely subsided when they brought forth the "controversial" cover art from their forthcoming album, which, of course, featured gratuitous full male nudity. Perhaps funnier still is their new 7", which features "Half, Half & Half," an Oxes original on one side, and a cover of the Foo Fighters' "Everlong" on the b-side (complete with a photo of Dave Grohl sporting a homemade Shonen Knife shirt). At least I think it's Dave Grohl. Thankfully they are as good at attention-holding as they are at attention-getting, as their angular bassless numbers rock is quite solid, and their music impresses nearly (but not quite as much) as do their zany ways.

The a-side, "Half, Half & Half" picks up approximately where they left off on their self-titled debut. One guitar's twirling line repeats as the other guitar fires off chords until the two come together to change time signatures. Then they do it all over again. The formula is not unique to the genre (or the band), but the Oxes pull it off with more frantic excitement and obscured melody than most of their contemporaries. Bob Weston's production is characteristically explosive as the guitar line's chaotic third time around crashes the song to an exciting finish.

The b-side, "Everlong," is funnier in theory than in practice, but is entertaining no less. In fact, the funniest surprise is the lack of humor the Oxes inject compared to the original. Dave Grohl's vocals are substituted note for note by a wailing guitar, verse and chorus, while Grohl's guitar line is simultaneously approximated. Lacking any Oxen zing, the song, which is not very good to begin with, is still not very good. And is that really a photo of Dave Grohl? I don't get it. At least I don't think I get, which, I suppose means that, yet again, the Oxes have succeeded.

By Sam Hunt

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