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Baker's Dozen

No Borders, No Boundaries: Eugene Robinson On His Favourite Albums
John Doran , January 14th, 2019 07:40

The Oxbow frontman, MMA prize fighter and occasional guest writer for tQ, presents a stunning 13 LPs for your perusal, ranging from baritone vocal jazz and noise rock to ecstatic easy listening. John Doran takes notes


Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin

Johnnie Ray got me through many a break up, as schmaltzy and insane as that may sound to you, the guy sang with a real level of passion about the side of love that’s got teeth to it. Yeah, I guess I listen to a lot of romantic music like Billie Holiday but it’s a certain kind of romantic music. It’s strange, some woman in Germany once told me she had mixed feelings about being a Neurosis fan. She told me it was being like the girlfriend who gets the angry letter from the dumped boyfriend. She said: “There’s a language thing, so I don’t know what their lyrics are about but I feel like I fucked them over somehow.” Nick Cave was a big fan of writing love letters in the past. It’s interesting. I don’t really understand how all of the romantic undertones of Oxbow’s music has been completely missed by everybody. Biba Kopf at The Wire got the closest when he described the root of the music as “some unspecified disaster” - so he got close but then he didn’t quite see the full picture either. My problems weren’t existential, that’s not what it was about. It seemed too prosaic at the time to say Fuck Fest was about love gone bad but it was about love gone very, very, very bad. And this was up to and including the object of my obsession choosing to get married to somebody else, realising she had made a mistake, asking me to murder her husband. I mean, it got lunatic heavy dark, very fast and it stayed that way for a long time. Oxbow was me in a very public way trying to figure this stuff out, which in my mind is super romantic but nobody ever got that - and in that sense we’re not like Neurosis. [LAUGHS] I think part of the problem is that people often saw us play live before they heard our records and when you see me on stage you don’t think, ‘Oh, this is a lover’s lover I see before me.’ [LAUGHS] The next Oxbow record we’re not waiting ten years on, we’re working on it right now. We first played some of the material as The Love’s Holiday Orchestra in 2007 at Supersonic Festival. I’ve been wanting for a long time to do a series of love songs but not in the facile way most people do love songs. Cherub is usually presented as a funny, chubby baby, Aphrodite and Venus as beautiful but essentially harmless women: they are presented as being benign. But as anyone who has ever been there will know that’s not fucking true at all, these beings are terrifying personages and the total absorption into that experience can be terrifying.