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Matthew J. Webster – Writer

Oxbow: Songs for the French

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(Originally published a while ago. And don’t worry, it’s written in English.)

Lettre ouverte aux très distingués représentatives de L’Académie Française des Arts et Lettres, concernante “Oxbow: Songs for the French”

Mmes./Mms.: At least four men play with the San Francisco-based band, Oxbow. Guitarist Philippe Thiphaine also joins them for the studio-recorded tracks on this latest release, named for the nation that loves Oxbow more than any other, although not very much: the home of Lautréamont and Rimbaud.

Long before Oxbow existed, James Baldwin described their music as “the sound from the cracked-open heart.”

The group’s intention is to make listeners feel gut-sick and bereft. I’ll probably never stop listening to this record.

The singer, Eugene Robinson, has performed with his trousers pulled down about his ankles, betraying his taste for exiguous designer underpants.

The album’s sleeve design is coldly winning, and available in three shades of neutral. Consider this lyrical passage from the song, “Coal King”:

                        The parts slide together

                        Coldly together

                        Like they’ve been doing so forever

                        And when you ask me, eyes wet with wonder, what I mean

                        I will tell you what I mean

                        I will tell you what I mean…

Robinson is about to tell you exactly what he means. You probably don’t want to know, and his thrust won’t make you giggle. But he’ll make sure you heard him.

Très sincérement,

Matthew J. Webster

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