BioOxford Collapse could have happened anywhere and anytime between 1980 and today, but it’s in New York City, it’s right now, and it’s leaving a dry, predictable status quo in emerging hipster music hanging in peril.
Buzzing and restless, overjoyed and confrontational, Oxford Collapse’s music telegraphs a passion for the last two decades of American indie rock exuberance. More importantly, they look to that music’s forefathers – bands like The Embarrassment, Mission of Burma, the dBs, Pylon, and the Feelies – who charged forward, innovatively liberating what they needed from their well-versed musical pasts and building them into a shaken, florid, ever-focusing present, only to be appreciated in the future. Moreover, these bands performed with a marked sense of innocence, amazement, a feeling of wonder that’s all but gone in the deluge of post-punk revivalism, which only seems to recall the oily glitter of Blondie or the sharp edges of Gang of Four and P.i.L. Oxford Collapse chooses not to crowd these lanes, particularly since there’s so much open ground to cover elsewhere. Blue skies, wide expanses, the drive to discover Some Wilderness within and without the maps of musical hierarchy.
There’s Michael Pace, guitarist and vocalist, who pulled the neck of his long-suffering Sekova Les Paul copy right off during the recording of Some Wilderness. Dan Fetherston, tasked with learning how to play drums specifically for this band, and filling the spaces capably with the disco ride. Yong Sing da Silva, who graced the stage at Pianos in a too-tight Polo shirt, Tuffskins and flip-flops, on bass (he’s moved onto medical school; the equally fashion-conscious Mike Henry now fills those shower shoes). The band started on a semester abroad in London, creating dissonant screamo-maximalism for complete cathartic release. Then they found their ways, sculpting the dissonance around the sounds of their Poindexterian brethren, opening chords and tunings, building dynamics against one another, and toning down the distortion on the relentless speed they play at. Pace’s guitar style closely mimics the anti-aircraft shred of Roger Miller, crashed right into the nimble lyricism of early Peter Buck. The rhythm section responds in kind, with dizzying bass scales all over the register and drumming that nearly topples over on itself while filling every last breath of space.
Oxford Collapse plays the sounds of the suburbs, the blueprint of early summer, hopped up on candy scarfed down at bar mitzvah blowouts, at the batting cages, sneaking around all day at the multiplex, then turfing the neighbor’s lawn on a riding mower for good measure. They flip over big flat rocks and gaze fascinated at the insects living a private life beneath. They know that the devils and the details don’t need one another to get by, and demonstrate that with some of the wildest manic pop abandon heard in years.