Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Oxford Collapse. Remember the Night Parties (Sub Pop, 2006)

"We're cracking champagne because/ We became what we never thought we would."

Brooklyn-by-way-of-Pittsburgh three piece Oxford Collapse clearly love '90s indie rock. In their triumphant guitar clatter, you can hear hints of Chavez, Pavement, Archers of Loaf, and probably some other bands that I'm not bright enough to mention. It's pretty great, and it's an exciting listen because these guys are clearly excited to be playing. Their enthusiasm is as obvious as their inability to sing in key.

2006's Remember the Night Parties is the third album from Oxford Collapse, and the first one I ever heard. Hearing it, I got that rush you get whenever you listen to a band for the first time and think, "Oh, hey, I think I just discovered a new favorite band." It's that good. Album opener is the lilting, down tempo "He'll Paint While We Play," and though it's a fair introduction, it doesn't really prepare you for the awesomeness that is the album's second track, "Please Visit Your National Parks." It's a classic jam, each player so busy kicking ass that at times the song sounds on the verge of falling part. But it never does. Instead, it rocks your face off, the see-sawing main riff and scrambling solos placing the song squarely in the "Best Song I've Heard in a Long Time and I Think I'll Listen to It Again Right Now" category.

And the thing is, most of the songs on this album are in that category. The rushing "Loser City;" the clattering, percussive, hypnotic "For the Khakis and Sweatshirts;" the endearingly tone-deaf "Lady Lawyers," a track that turns at the 1:27 mark from a hurried, double-time jumble into an inspiring, kinda-feminist anthem with an incredible hook and shout-along chorus ("And on Saturday we become lady lawyers!"). And the beautiful "Forgot to Write," with its steady drumming, chiming guitar, and plaintive melody, is not dissimilar to Reckoning-era R.E.M., but more muscular and less Stipe-y.

Also, Remember the Night Parties' album art is awesome. Photos taken in the '80s of dudes named Troy and Kenny and Tracy hanging out, shirtless and barefoot and in Jams, at the lake and the public picnic area and the pool, getting up to all kinds of shenanigans. The Noid features prominently, and the Noid was great.

I love this record. The Oxford Collapse just released a new one, Bits, and it's not too shabby, either. But Remember the Night Parties made a real impression. On this album, the Oxford Collapse sound like a bunch of my favorite bands mixed into one catchy, intensely-listenable package. And I like that. I think I'll listen to it again right now, actually.