Ox: Burnout

[15 November 2009]

By Matthew Fiander

PopMatters Associate Music Editor

On Burnout, Vancouver’s Ox isn’t afraid to go where plenty of country-tinged rock bands have gone before. Not only that, but it commits fully and with gusto to that well-worn road. Heck, within the first two songs, the band declares—on the strength of stolen guitars—“I’m gonna rock and roll all night,” right before taking the prom queen dancing. From there, the band sings of A.M. rock on the radio, coffee and cigarettes at a late-night diner, and even an ‘85 Buick up on blocks in someone’s yard.

We’ve heard all this before, right? How, then, do these sawdust anthems sound so earnest and fresh? Maybe because on all of these songs, Ox moves twanging and clear through vast country soundscapes, all the while kicking up a hazy, psychedelic dust. Maybe it’s because, on top of that, Mark Browning’s vocals are sweet with melody but weighed down with heartache. Maybe it is because any one of these songs can get etched in your head for days at a time (seriously, give “Prom Queen” a spin and see if you don’t end up humming the chorus long into the night). No matter the reason, Burnout is a solid album. Ox is unafraid to dig sounds out of the soil of American music, sounds we know all too well, and grow them to maturity in its own backyard, morphing them into something distinctly its own in the process.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/116149-ox-burnout/