Thin Black Duke
Oxbow’s appeal lies in the band’s nebulous art-rock prism. The malleability sounds evident on its seventh record—and first in 10 years—Thin Black Duke, which solicits more questions than answers as to the source of the borderless musical wellspring. Lead by the imposing, multitalented writer/cage fighter Eugene S. Robinson, Oxbow strikes a docile note on the opener “Cold & Well Lit Place,” with a whistling groove that slowly begins to unravel with a cacophony of horns and strings. Robinson’s maniacal vocals captain the shape-shifting musical environments, which morph into elastic renditions of symphonic metal hybrids and post-punk writhings. The album’s—and by proxy the band’s—beauty is a commitment to keeping the listener guessing, and Thin Black Duke amounts to as much a soundtrack of a schizophrenic’s fever dream as a consumable album. If ever there were an anti-band, it is Oxbow, and Thin Black Duke is as beautifully exotic as it is difficult to fathom.