Obnox covers “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young on his new album, which makes sense, because Obnox is from Ohio. He’s from Cleveland, to be specific, less than 40 miles from where four kids laid famously dead in the street some 45 years ago. His take on the song that was written in response to the Kent State shootings, when the National Guard shot four protesting college students, doesn’t play like a throwback. It seethes with fresh anger, because it’s 2015 and the United States government is still mowing down unarmed kids.
Lamont “Bim” Thomas deals in recycled parts. His work as Obnox is corroded, mean, and cheekily referential. He’s not afraid to stomp all over sacred ground — I mean, the guy called his new album Boogalou Reed.
The new record arrives less than a year after the last Obnox album, Louder Space, because Thomas is a garage rock veteran who seems to exude this stuff by necessity; it comes out of him like steam. He builds rusty hooks around weird puns like “Cynthia Piper at the Gates of Dawn” and “Too Punk Shakur”, phrases that feel free-associative and fun (if half-buried in someone else’s inside jokes).
There’s a part of Boogalou Reed that’s too thorny to scan, too wrapped up in barbed wire to access. Obnox’s lyrics hide somewhere inside the squall he cooks up for himself. The thrust of the album lies in its own infatuation with decay, in the fact that Obnox can’t sing the words “you know I love you” without a guitar bleeding feedback over his voice. But behind all the mess, something keeps sparking out of the rubble. At 15 tracks and 44 minutes, Boogalou Reed is padded for punk, and it doesn’t swing as wildly at deranged production choices as some of Thomas’ leaner work. It leans more heavily on classic rock cornerstones, but it’s still an Obnox record. It still has teeth if you look.
Essential Tracks: “Cynthia Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, “Ohio”