Lamont Thomas has a busy 2015 ahead of him. Know America is the second album he’s released as Obnox in this young year, and he’s planning at least two more before 2016 rolls around. He’s quite excited about them, too, if his recent interview with Noisey is any indicator. At least we can share in that excitement. Know America continues the anti-establishment theme with a concept project: Obnox and his people remotely highjack Radio 420 AM WEDE for the sake of rock ‘n’ roll, because everything this radio station has been playing is “trash.” The album doesn’t fall into the lofty trappings a concept project typically entails; the plot is mostly summarized by the beginning and ending skits.
Know America’s structure moves more freely than Boogalou Reed’s more traceable riffs, dousing itself with fuzz in an attempt to mimic AM radio crackle. It robs some of the songs of their definitiveness, but it never devolves into punk gobbledygook. Know America remains accessible partially because the way its mixed emotions form against a dominant power structure is crystal clear. The brooding “Menocause” features a hollowed drum that sounds like Phil Spector production thrown into debris and malaise. The weariness of Obnox’s continuous “help me” isn’t lost. “Life Long Vine” jumps between ghostly and exalting as the song tightropes its way past guitar-filled chaos for four minutes.
Know Yourself is fairly straightforward with its thrills, but its best track is its most ambitious. The fist-shaking subsides in the climactic “Power House”; Obnox bellows a devilish croak, while the female backing vocals evoke — lyrically and in their juxtaposition — imagery not too far from the biblical figures Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It’s as liberating as Know Yourself gets, and a hint that Obnox is still far from red-lining.
Essential Tracks: “Power House”, “Menocause”