To close out the year, Crossfade is picking out its favorite albums by 305 artists. Read the full list of Miami's Best Albums of 2010 here.
Axe and the Oak
Record Store Day EP
We've all seen, heard and loved bands that were total disasters. The bass is too low in the mix, the guitarist is down to two strings, and the drummer's got a lampshade on his head.
But how about meticulous, transcendentally deliberate acts? The kind that keeps the whole operation tight from start to finish, really polishes the details, and makes you feel in the presence of genuine craftsmanship? Those bands are a bit less common.
If you're on the prowl for some knock-down, drag-out professionals, might we suggest Axe and the Oak?
It's a testament to this trio's compositional prowess that this all-too-brief EP was issued as a casual Record Store Day release, and yet it's one of the best collections of original music to come out of Dade County this year.
Here at Crossfade, we wer originally introduced to Axe and the Oak as a "rockabilly band." And while we certainly recognize a rock 'n' roll distillation of a particularly twang-y brand of Americana, this is no "rockabilly band."
From start to finish, this EP is a total package of sharp dark rock that never lapses into cornball territory, but instead serves up a satisfying amalgamation of r'n'r swagger, cinematic ambience, and 21st-century song structures. You get incredibly executed build-ups ("Ghost In The Fire" and "Vampire"), devastatingly rich guitar tone ("B-Side") and omnipresent soulful, versatile vocals.
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In short, Axe & The Oak fuse Ennio Morricone with early twang-punk like X, producing a unique sound so satisfying that we seriously hope their next release is three times as long as this EP.
-- Matt Preira