Thursday, July 14, 2011

Listen To Oax Go The Distance

OaxGiorgio Angelini has spent what seems like a lifetime looking for the right home. He played bass for The Rosebuds. He played bass for Bishop Allen. And then he fronted the two-piece band 1986 with longtime bandmate Cully Symington (Okkervil River).

His band 1986 had real promise, producing two albums. The second album especially, Everybody Is Whatever, never got the attention it deserved. Maybe Okkervil River knew it too, which is why they added Symington to the roster. (That and 1986 had some shakeups.)

No matter. Being left without a bandmate didn't detour Angelini. In less than a year, he moved on to another indie project; this time alone under the band name Oax. The release is an EP, which Angelini is hoping sells just enough to fund an album.

The Distance by Oax showcases Giorgio Angelini's relentless talent.

All of it is turning out to be a good thing. Angelini has only gotten better as a singer/songwriter without sacrificing any of his ability to drop in some power chords when he feels it works. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it isn't needed.

As an independent outing, The Distance is ripe with diversity. It's a richly layered semi-confessional that he even describes as "like reading a children's book written by Charles Bukowski." While I'm not sure the analogy holds up to scrutiny, it hardly matters. It's easily one of the best debuts this year.

All five tracks from the new EP are worth the download.

Pretty Good Start kicks off the album with a folksy opening before Angelini introduces easygoing vocals, perhaps reflecting on his initial decision to take a break from music and go back to graduate school. Obviously, he did more than study over the last several months. He hit his home studio and began producing an EP with the help of Ivan Rosebud (The Rosebuds).

Just don't mistake Pretty Good Start as indicative of the overall sound. Angelini changes things up on every track and even these five songs don't reveal everything. The only way to know is to catch him live because there isn't much on Oax as a new band. Still, we did find one live performance clip from the Granada Theater in Dallas. This one isn't even on the album.

Aside from Pretty Good Start, its polar opposite — Liar, Cheat, Jerk — provides a much more raw and indie rock sound, cut up with lyrics of inflexibility. Scoundrel carries the edgy sentiment forward, where Love and Crashing is much more reflective.

The added fifth track proves that although Angelini is certainly onto something as a solo band, he doesn't have to go it alone. In addition to Rosebud, he did an amazing job tapping his ties to Austin. Sutures includes Chris Simpson (Mineral) and Jim Eno (Spoons), providing the perfect closer to a near-perfect debut from this big Houston-based talent.

The Distance By Oax Goes Further Than Expected At 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Unless something comes up, Oax will be the best possible playground for Angelini. He hears everything differently, creating a sound that isn't always noticed but is certainly a cut above. Much like what was said about 1986, all Oax needs is the few hundred people who bought the album to tell at least ten friends. We've got our friends covered. How about you?

Pick up The Distance by Oax from iTunes. The Distance is also available at Amazon, where you can find the CD. And keep your ears open for more performances in Texas.
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