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October 20, 2004

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THESE ARMS ARE SNAKES - OXENEERS OR THE LION SLEEPS WHEN ITS ANTELOPE GO HOME

A friend recommended that I listen to the hard-rocking outfit McClusky recently because, in his valued opinion, they "really rock." Whenever I sit down at a drum-kit, I have that same urge many of us do to just make loud fast rock music, and I usually act on it. Rocking is fun, let there be no denial. And I don't mean that arty hard rock, or the ironic hard rock, I mean the sweaty lowbrow 4/4 pulverizing rush that is hard-rock. McClusky and Andrew W.K. do it, so why not These Arms Are Snakes?


A website used the term "post-grunge" to qualify their sound, a hyphenization that scares me. How does a band attain such a label (or avoid it)? Because they're based out of Seattle, because more than a few of their crunchy riffs triggered a subconscious longing for flannel button-downs, because the tech-metal opening track "Shit Sisters"'s 5/4 time signature is powerfully reminiscent of Soundgarden's early work? Maybe, but this is POST-grunge, which means...What? I dunno, "after" grunge?


Their new album's title, Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home, is a risk. Whereas ...or The Children's Crusade or or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb fit their author's sense of black humor, the alternate titles for Radiohead's last album seemed like overkill. "The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home" by itself would be more apt for this album; it suggests the primal instinct of aggressive music, the predator-prey relationship rock has with its muses and its fans. "Oxeneers" conjures images of Oregon Trail, and serves not the cause of suggesting the rocking attitude of the content within. (The track titled "Oxeneers", however, interestingly sounds like Animal Collective covering Metallica's "One").


Most interesting are the album's two sprawling dirges: "Gadget Arms" is a spaced-out Jane's Addiction-eque instrumental with a wicked stomp-ready riff, bubbling distortion, and one soaring lyric; "Idaho" is a neurotic, rhythm-shifting epic with chattered lyrics and a "For the Benifit of Mr. Kite" feel of carnival fun.


Smart, ragged, and occasionally worthy of a playlist.

PUBLICATION
The Philler

AUTHOR
Marty Northrop

DIRECT LINK TO ARTICLE
http://www.thephiller.com