The Axe and The Oak
Record Store Day 2010 EP
For all the moments I have personally felt agonized over this trio's "eternal studio tinkering," I'd like to first apologize for not jumping on this review as soon as I got the disc this past Record Store Day. I dropped the ball. I am sorry.
Back in February, we reviewed one of the band's songs and I was terrified that years would go by before these guys released some music. I honestly was. The members of the Axe and the Oak are perfectionists in the truest sense.
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I can't apologize enough. This six song EP is delicious from beginning to end. While purposely echo-y and gloomy, the trio of Sander (guitar/vocals), Myles (bass) and Fernando (drums) actually achieves a very full sound that works on several levels. The lows are succinct and thorough while the more treble-based sounds generate a certain eerie paranoia that works well with the surreal lyrics that Sander croons from his dark alley of despair and personal grief.
There's something personal here, but it's something personal that becomes universal through subject matter and word choice. Jack the Ripper, vampires, spirits and man's foils are all addressed. Poetically, I'd put the Axe and the Oak alongside Albert Goldbarth's eruditeness and Jim Daniel's blue-collar know-how. Musically, there's a mean streak of mid-'90s Jade Tree Records, like the Promise Ring and Joan of Arc, but with an undeniable touch of American roots music via the Cramps' gothic rockabilly.
Atmospheric, thought-provoking, well-executed, danceable even -- I personally can't wait for a second effort. And I'll be on the review as soon as I get my hands on it. I promise.