Occasionally my pre-workout shake surprises me with diarrhea, and when I’m trying to impress the boys with squats on leg day, it can be a slippery slope. UXO’s music was not a surprise; I read about this band before I heard any tracks and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. UXO’s self-titled debut was written entirely by legendary noise terrorists Steve Austin of Today Is the Day and Chris Spencer of Unsane, and believe me, it’s just as gut-churning and imposing as you would imagine. We hear healthy contributions from both that recall the sounds of their early to mid careers, including Unsane’s plodding and angular rhythms that often detonate into some sort of crushing finale, and the din of Austin’s beautifully desolate guitar work that often ends up swelling into a cascade of inhumanity. The tenacious rhythm section is comprised of drummer Pat Kennedy from Taipan (one of Austin’s previous projects) and bassist Aarne Victorne of Boston/Providence’s Whitey.
But back to why in this case predictability is a good thing; the dysfunctional parents that birthed UXO developed a symbiotic camaraderie with their distinct styles, which are evenly showcased throughout the album. The beastly songs effortlessly ebb and flow between brooding, sludgy rock and pulverizing crescendos. As far as the vocals go, Austin’s demonic shrieks pair nicely with the urgent howlings of Spencer. Like the latest Cherubs release 2 Ynfynyty, this album is a refreshing resurgence of the gritty days of AmpRep Records and Trance Syndicate style noise rock. I like every track on this album, “Bitter,” “User,” and “Redlegs” being the highlights.
UXO found itself at home on Baltimore-based label Reptilian Records, which has released albums from other noise rock maniacs like Vaz, Easy Action, Clockcleaner, etc. (By the way UXO is a military acronym for Unexploded Ordinance).
After one listen, I already know that UXO will be in my top albums of 2016, and not because of my life-long crush on Steve Austin; this is savage and thoughtful noise rock, and I hope it ruins your day.
Rating: 5.5 out of 6 Doves Prince’s Minnetonka Tea Time was interrupted when he overheard this UXO record and thought for a split second that it may almost be as good as one of his own. After splashing his cup of tea into his ankle masseuse’s face, he went downstairs into his studio and wrote the best mind-melting neo-funk-jazz-fusion box set known to man.