Thin Black Duke follows the trend of all Oxbow albums in being so unpredictable as to what direction the record will follow. What can only be described as a mix of alternative rock, indie and even some shoegaze thrown in for good measure, this is an album that shows how musically cultured and mature Oxbow have become. Available on Vinyl LP and CD.
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Energy: it is good. If you’re making the weirdest shit and believing it makes good, tense logical sense, then I’m probably going to forget to argue with you about it. ‘Thin Black Duke’ opens on a real squealer of a rock track, its gloomy but upswinging riffs meeting collapsed horns and strings, plus a meandering vocal performance indebted to the frenetic euphora-struggles of Modest Mouse. It all comes together quite nicely because it sounds so fucked off the whole damn time.
This band is full of enigmas: every instrument sounds pronounced and squirming, the whining string-bends of “A Gentleman’s Gentleman” meeting spat nonsense in the vocal department. At slower rates they sound like they’re working backwards, the croaking and screaming and string vomit of “Letter of Note” feeling like an accident they turned into reality. It’s noise rock at times resembling the avant concepts of Kayo Dot while also servicing a more straightforward kinda evil pop.
It is good to squelch and doom and noise, and this record serves a whole lot of weird under one banner, even becoming something of a lamenting fanfare deal on the crunchy but symphonic “Other People”. For a record so gurgling, this one sure is accessible.
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- Thin Black Duke by Oxbow
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