Obnox - Boogalou Reed - New LP
"If you had to force a standard narrative on Obnox, the solo project of Cleveland’s Lamont "Bim" Thomas, it might go something like this: prolific, lo-fi one-man band steps into a proper studio to make his most accessible and acclaimed album—last year’s wide-ranging, hard-hitting *Louder Space—*and must grapple with how to follow that peak. The problem with that story is that Thomas isn’t much of a grappler when it comes to making records. Boogalou Reed, released less than a year after Louder Space, finds him still cockily speeding along, cranking out high-octane, hip-hop-influenced garage rock like it’s a spiritual calling.
"Even if Thomas is a song-making factory, Boogalou Reed sounds nothing like an assembly line. In contrast to *Louder Space—*his first full-on exploration of his rap leanings—this is more of a straight-up garage-punk album, filled with hyper-fuzz guitars, stomping beats, and snarling vocals. That’s reflected in some of Thomas’s rock-history-sniffing song titles: "Cynthia Piper at the Gates of Dawn", "Too Punk Shakur", the title track. Judged solely on the scale of how hard it rocks, Boogalou Reed is a head-rinsing success.
"But Thomas has been at his craft too long to settle for anything that simple. He knows the value of head-down rock action, but he also knows how to layer that with something more complex. Most of these 15 tracks are miles-deep sonically, with guitars piled high, beats thickened into gunshots, and vocals that morph hip-hop fire with punk frenzy. The result is just as varied—albeit in a sneakier way—as Louder Space. Blink and you might miss the twists and turns, as Thomas dives into sultry noise-R&B ("Situation"), stoner grunge ("Protopipe"), rap-metal ("Watching You"), organ-driven '60s rock ("Empire"), and even a demolishing cover of "Ohio" that beats Neil Young at his own guitar-growl game.
"What glues all these sides of Obnox together is the way Thomas infects every moment with electricity. The lightning-bolt energy that courses through Boogalou Reed’s 15 tracks is a kind of genre of its own, a sonic signature that Thomas can fit many styles into without losing the mark of his bold handwriting. As he put it recently, "White cats can get into it. Hip-hop niggas can get into it. Punks can get into it. Indie rock dude, he’s already in. Noiseheads. It’s all in there." Yet none of those categories takes over; you never get the sense that Thomas is trying on costumes or speaking a second language. His supreme confidence steamrolls any worries of dilettantism.
"Steamrolling is basically Thomas’ job now. Since launching Obnox after years spent in some of Ohio’s best garage bands, he’s slammed forward with all the force of a smoke-blowing engine. (He’s already got another record on the way soon, a "punk rock concept album" called Know America about taking over a radio station.) But that steamroller metaphor doesn’t catch how Thomas’ music is as subtle as it is pummeling. His business is all about charging forward, but his art is about more than just the moment." - Marc Masters