The Foxymorons have been at it since the late ’90s but release albums pretty rarely, which leaves everyone with plenty of time (and good reason) to get excited by another record. Though the praise given to the band is frequently filtered through comparisons to other acts from the various heydays of power pop — the bandmembers themselves make it a point to note an affinity for Big Star and Pavement — on Bible Stories they craft a charmingly ramshackle collection of songs that render tracing steps in the annals of rock a moot point. The central duo of David Dewese and Jerry James trade off on the vocals and must attack their respective songs pretty differently: not that they specify who’s-who, but it’s clear that one is remarkably adept at delivering memorably conversational lines in raggedy, endearingly tossed-off little packages, and the other is more of a classicist in approach. This voice is the one responsible for the more lush and meticulous material, while the aforementioned occupies a comparatively ambiguous place, trading in the sort of substantive humor that may have given birth to the delightful absurdism of the album’s moniker, not to mention the band name itself. In songs of this persuasion, colorfully in-the-moment character encounters like “At the Dairy Queen you talk so obscene” strike a circuitous poeticism and fanciful interplay with the alternating instances where ever-active melodies take center stage. At the end of the day, they’re great as a collective, reveling in an outsider’s glory and bashing it out, and alternatively toning it down for high point after high point. The changing of the guards is used to maximum effect where the gorgeous lullaby “This Too Shall Pass” — echoing an Elliott Smith-by-way-of-Jeff Hanson quality in its disarming falsetto — is grounded by the ultra-satisfying guitar rock of “Say It Aloud.” Later, the amusing archetypical portraits of folks from the lateral opposites of Boston and Portland define dreams of escape on “Sick of California,” and the images are allegorical enough to offset the sobering narrative of a disenchanted band trying to make it in the modern-day climate. The joke, though, is really on the fair-weather friends who only “Tell you what you want to hear/’You’ll make the album of the year'”: the truth is, with this well-rounded stash of ten undeniably rousing Bible Stories, the Foxymorons have come awfully close.
It’s easy to hear why Pavement crop up when talking about Foxymorons, everyone has at least heard of them (Pavement that is) if not actually heard them. So you can take ‘Skinny Cow Blues’ as an example, there’s the title, the lyrics, the vocal phrasing, the ramshackle guitar solo and that seemingly accidental grasp of what makes a song work. A lot of people miss or dismiss that essential skill of Pavement, it sounds like it is so easy to do things slightly wrong so that it sounds better then it would if it were right. It takes guts and it takes wiles, Foxymorons have both and an encyclopaedic knowledge of Indie-Rock.
The smarts allows them not to be tied down easily, ‘This Too Shall Pass’ mixes soft rock with Fleet Foxes style harmonies. ‘Say It Loud’ bursts into life like a Buffalo Tom song. Their stylistic shifts do lead one into just spotting the quotations and connections, it becomes an end in itself, I can even hear the Monochrome Set in ‘We All Crawl’ which probably reveals more about me than the Foxymorons. But then this is self-referential music about music so it’s not totally unfair to pin ‘Sick of California’ as Granddaddy. For those like myself who found their musical identity through Pavement, Dinosaur Jr in those halcyon times before major label feeding frenzies when ‘This Band Could Be Your Life’ was a life this record lights little Proustian beacons, those fading synapses suddenly fire again. I know what I’m going to be doing tonight, it will involve the Volcano Suns and maybe some Big Dipper, it will be loud. So thanks to the Foxymorons for returning me to the lessons I learned in the old testament of my personal musical bible.
Meet The Foxymorons, a duo based in Texas/Tennessee that have been producing great music since the mid-90’s… and their style & sound is very indicative of their roots.
Currently on their 5th release, Bible Stories, these fellas blend nearly everything I love about Wilco-ish and Robert Pollard-ish sounds… while putting out a great album with amazing songwriting and fervor.
Add to that, on top of marking really awesome music – they started a pretty nifty clothing company called American Viceroy that sells (what they call) a “uniform for creative living”.
Clever dudes with clever music. Click the link below to here a few tracks courtesy of the bands website.
The Foxymorons aren’t your typical band. It’s the songwriting vehicle for two guys from different cities, Fort Worth’s Jerry James and Nashville’s David Dewese, who nevertheless have spent the past decade –– not quietly –– crafting smart, wry indie-pop. They’ve released several albums and garnered laudatory reviews in Pitchfork, Paste, and SPIN. A couple of years ago, Dewese and James also started a clothing line, American Viceroy –– James describes the typical AV ensemble as “a schoolboy uniform crossed with pajamas.” The clothes were featured on the web site of GQ magazine a couple of years ago. Of the label and the band, James said, “To me it all feels like it’s coming from the same part of the same aesthetic and part of the same spirit of wanting to make something.”
Though separated by a few hundred miles, David Dewese (right) and Jerry James still get creative together.
American Viceroy is on the back burner now –– the clothes are not even available for purchase online (though they were carried in stores in New York City, Los Angeles, and Japan). Instead, Dewese and James are focusing on the band: They have just released a subtly brilliant and extremely catchy guitar-based album, Bible Stories. The goal now is to become a bona fide band, geography be damned. “We’re trying to book shows now, one thing we want to do a lot more of,” James said. “We want to make the band more of a living, breathing entity. It’s something to me that always feels alive, even if we’re long distance. But we’re planning on playing [more] shows and making more records.”
Dewese and James first met in high school in Mesquite in the early 1990s but didn’t become friends and collaborators until their college years, when Dewese was studying in Brownwood and James was at Southern Methodist University. They saw each other at home during breaks. The two were music aficionados and started mailing each other mix tapes. “The more obscure music, the better,” James said. Ultimately, music that Dewese and James wrote and performed separately began appearing on the tapes. “We didn’t necessarily think you had to be good at guitar [to write your own songs], and some of the songs that we knew and liked didn’t seem that hard to play,” James said. “That started it.”
With a friend, Dewese and James began performing and recording their material, using their church’s drum kit and recording equipment. “At some point,” James said, “I was like, ‘Why don’t we make a 7-inch single? It seems that all these other bands we like have done that.’ ”
Dewese eventually moved to Nashville, and James spent time in Los Angeles and Austin. (He received his MBA from the University of Texas.) But The Foxymorons never wavered. The band “just sort of evolved –– it’s just an aspect, an extension, of our friendship,” James said. “We meet up, hang out, we eat, and we mess around, and always at some point, somebody picks up a guitar and says, ‘I’ve got this song.’ ”
In the mid-’00s, Dewese and James added some players, put out a couple of albums, including the Pitchfork-approved Hesitation Eyes, and in ’06 played the SXSW Music Festival. “I thought we were going to put out [an album] the next year,” James said. “There was no intention to wait five years to put out a new album. But [Dewese] had been doing a lot of traveling … and then we started the clothing line. Our attentions had diverted to these other things. Life had sort of gotten in the way. Or just laziness.”
After the last shipment of American Viceroy clothing was made, Dewese and James both agreed that the time had come to make another record. “Songs had been stockpiling, and we weren’t doing anything with them,” James said. “I always knew we were going to make another record. We knew we weren’t over. We just didn’t know it was going to take so long.”
With help from some session players, including drummer Brian Fuzzell, pianist Chris Davis, and multi-instrumentalist Stephen Jerkins, Dewese and James holed up in Dewese’s home studio in Nashville and pumped out Bible Stories in a couple of weeks. “We have friends that spend a lot of time in the studio,” James said. “I don’t relate to it. We know the songs going in. They happen relatively fast. … I’m only there for three or four days, an extended weekend. A lot of that [time], we’re at the movies or at the bar or hanging out with our friends. Then it’s time to do work.”
Mastered by Centro-matic’s Matt Pence, who also did Hesitation Eyes, the new CD moves through highs and lows and has an ironic sensibility like an indie film from indie-filmdom’s halcyon days of the late 1990s/early 2000s. Starring in The Foxymorons’ melodic bursts are a “passion shark,” an “incandescent man,” and a “teenage typing queen,” among many other characters. Dewese and James share singing duties –– Dewese’s voice is sweet, smooth, and masculine while James’ is nervous, tiny, and cute. Every song is tightly structured and highly melodious. The duo rocks reverb-laden riffs almost as often as gently strumming or finger-picking acoustic guitars. One standout track is “Say It Aloud,” a hard-charging rocker in the spirit of Soul Asylum and complete with honey-dripping vocal harmonies during the chorus. Another hit is “Out of Control,” a toe-tapper built around a simple staccato guitar riff, snappy snare, and tambourine, the bridge formed by a refrain of ba-ba-dada-da.
The rest of the album is equally winning. “Sick of California” is a slow burn, its heavy bass complementing Dewese’s dreamy delivery. “Skinny Cow Blues” comes on like an old C&W ballad, with James at his cutest singing, “We never connect just right / Like a clumsy high five … that dressing gown’s awful tight / That dressing gown’s tight / But it’s alright.” “This Too Shall Pass” is an acoustic-and-vocals lullaby that calls to mind nothing less than “Dust in the Wind” (though not as melancholy). Another softy is “Meskeeters (Sweet Sixteen),” one of several songs about awkward teenage years. “Your boyfriend’s broke, you think it’s a joke, now you’re looking for an older guy,” James sings, his voice soft and on the verge of cracking, “So at the Dairy Queen, you talk so obscene, and you leave without saying goodbye.” Bible Stories could be the soundtrack to a sequel to Napoleon Dynamite or Rushmore.
“We’re writing songs that we want to hear,” James said. “I’m writing songs that I think are cool, that are interesting to me, and we share a common sensibility and reference points. And so we have this distinct idea of what we think is cool or what we think is interesting, and I think that’s it. … We want to make music that’s exciting and interesting.”
Returning with their first album in five years, the Foxymorons present Bible Stories, a 10-song collection of alt-country-inflected indie rock that marks the duo’s fourth release to date. Self-recorded during the freezing months of a recent Nashville winter and subsequently mixed by long-time collaborator Matt Pence (Centro-matic), the songs “revel in a certain scruffy, underdog status while emoting about ‘teenage typing queens’ and the meditative virtues of gardening.” Or so we’re told. Available below, “Say It Aloud” and “Skinny Cowboy Blues” deliver on that promise, the former maintaining an earnest, Lemonheads-like patter and the latter embodying their more beer-soaked, heartland influences. Bible Stories was released last month via Foxyphoton. Check out the mix tape the Foxymorons just made for MAGNET.
Legend has it that the Foxymorons were born in a Sunday-school classroom when David Dewese and Jerry James (who hail from Tennessee and Texas, respectively) found an abandoned drum kit and started playing. Now, 16 years later, the duo has released its fourth full-length, Bible Stories (Foxyphoton), which is a rather fitting name given the band’s origins. However, instead of somber ballads about the New Testament, Bible Stories is actually a collection of infectious pop tunes on subject matters such as gardening. Here’s a mix tape James made especially for MAGNET.
Nirvana “On A Plain”
Maybe my favorite song of all time. Wry, funny, stream-of-consciousness and terribly sad. I played the Unplugged version of this song too many times in 1994-95. It’s just sort of a perfect song for me. Oh, and that bridge, that bridge! Video
Big Star “O, Dana”
“I’d rather shoot a woman than a man” What’s he singing about? One of my favorite songs from a favorite album. Video
Miley Cyrus “Party In The USA”
Sue us. It’s summer. We drive with the windows down. This song always fits the moment. Video
The Mother Hips “Third Floor Story”
Oh man, this song was kind of the epic jam of last fall, at least for our gang. It’s sort of over-the-top and funky in a way that we could never pull off. Hilarious riffs and falsettos, faux-bitter lyrics and classic-rock moves that feel totally great and sincere, although I can’t help but think they’re being a bit cheeky. Who knows, who cares? Video
The Velvet Underground “Who Loves The Sun”
I just heard it on the radio the other day. This song has always ruled me. I like the simple sentiment and direct language. This is my favorite kind of VU song. Video
The Raincoats “Fairytale In The Supermarket”
This song and recording sounds so alive in a way that thrills me. I completely love Ana da Silva’s voice and that shouted chorus. Beautiful. Video
Centro-matic “Picking Up Too Fast”
Truth be told, I could’ve picked any song from this Texas band’s 2003 album, Love You Just The Same. Oh, just get it already will you?
No Age “Ripped Knees”
Two dudes who make a lot of cool racket. I like the spirit of the band, and this record really cooks. Video
Yo La Tengo “You Tore Me Down”
This album is perfect, and this Flamin’ Groovies cover is a highlight. Audio
The Nobility “Hallelujah Chorus”
Pop greatness from Nashville-based, analog-loving, tour-trekking underdogs.
The Foxymorons aren’t exactly local, or a band. Sure, half the duo – Jerry James – calls Mesquite home. James’ collaborator, David Dewese, lives in Nashville. And the two release albums and perform live. But they do these things only sporadically.
Bible Stories is their first record in five years. Considering the music, though, it’s difficult to fault their approach. The Foxymorons have been playing together since 1994, and their hook-laden, witty power-pop reflects more than just years of experience.
James and Dewese clearly have an intimate knowledge of one another’s playing styles; they sound more like old friends with a natural knack for songwriting than a formal band. It’s a playful, casual feeling that pervades Bible Stories. Both trade off vocal duties and guitar from song to song, enlisting friends to fill out their lineup with drums and piano. Yet the back-and-forth never sounds like two different voices.
Big Star, Nilsson Schmilsson-era Harry Nilsson, Dinosaur Jr., Pavement – the Foxymorons coalesce every hint of their influences seamlessly, expertly referencing a broad swath of ’90s indie rock and ’70s alt-country while remaining distinctive, and adding their own flavor.
Bible Stories was recorded by the Foxymorons in a Nashville basement last winter. Perhaps the duo’s radiating confidence stems from having such firm control over the material. Most of the music is ostensibly conventional, direct pop-rock. The guys use traditional instrumentation and the melodies are immediately captivating.
But like Austin’s Spoon, James and Dewese have a talent for subtlety, making music that is often deceptively simple because it’s almost too catchy at times. They can create a lot out of nothing, using perfectly timed bridges to transcend their choruses.
Often, the duo interrupts a track’s progressive drive to pull back layers, focusing on a stark, ethereal harmonization, spare percussion or the striking of a lone piano key. Similarly, on the countrified Beach Boys tune, “Mesketeers,” it’s the least forceful element in the track that’s ultimately the most rewarding. Placed at the bottom of the mix, a droning organ hums purely, majestically, slyly driving the entire song.
Trafficking in equally sentimental and self-deprecating reflections on youth, it’s the sort of music only aging hipsters could produce. Not that I’m complaining. There’s more swimming beneath the surface of the record than the music lets on. Bible Stories might not change your life, but it could very well – and unexpectedly – brighten your mood.
The Foxymorons are an indie rock band consisting of Jerry James and David Dewese. They formed in Mesquite, TX in 1995. Since 1998, they have been a duo and have released three critically lauded albums to date. Their latest Bible Stories, might just be their best. Though it’s far from cohesive, linear or congruous, the nine songs (the album’s penultimate cut is 49 seconds of ambient noise) that dot the landscape of Bible Stories veer from mid-tempo roots-rock to sun-drenched California pop with the greatest of ease. Specializing in vibrant lo-fi guitar-based pop, The Foxymorons are definitively eclectic and creatively brilliant.
Recorded after a five-year hiatus, the disc was recorded in a creaky basement during a freezing Nashville winter. The need for vernal days is most readily apparent in the rousing, sun-kissed opener “Out of Control,” a shuffling, cut of near-perfect pop bliss. Unpredictably, the disc softens up on the mid-tempo “Skinny Cow Blues,” a dulcet and forlorn cut, bolstered by quavering vocals, lilting piano and a plaintive melody that’s both indelible and infectious.
The quiet, acoustic grace of “This Too Shall Pass,” offers up the album’s first glimpse at ruminative, intimate musings and winsome falsetto. It’s a sentiment repeated in the Jayhawks-esque “Mesketeers (Sweet Sixteen).” The rest of the four remaining cuts are a veritable thrill ride. The caffeinated energy of the snappy “Say it Aloud,” and the jangly “We All Crawl,” brings to mind 90s pop purveyors Dillon Fence, while the languorous “Big Decision,” and album closer “Bible Stories,” slither and sprawl across the landscape like a long lost REM b-side. But for all the amiable moments, none are better than the Brian Wilson send-up “Sick of California,” a timeless, buoyant ode to homesickness that’s infectious, harmonic and downright perfect. If there is one song to remember from Bible Stories, it is most assuredly this one.
More than a decade into an oft-overlooked career, The Foxymorons have penned an engaging and unpredictable master class in the charms of quirky, lo-fi indie pop. Those looking to chase down similar sounds, would be wise to use Bible Stories as a textbook. 83%
Mesquite, Tx./Nashville, Tenn. pop-rockers The Foxymorons have mined the ’90s in some damn catchy ways for three albums, and on August 24 they’ll issue their fourth long-player, Bible Stories, via Foxyphoton. It’s been five years since the release of Hesitation Eyes. It’s nice to know high school BFFs/co-band leaders, David Dewese and Jerry James, can still kick out a jangly-as-hell, Pavement-esque rocker like “Skinny Cow Blues.” The piano-led cut builds into something quite extraordinary.
(Trivia: Dewese & James started their own boutique clothing line, American Viceroy.) Catch this midtempo groove, dudes.
The Foxymorons are a happy power-pop duo out of good old boy Mesquite, Texas, and made up of David Dewese and Jerry James. The band’s history stretches back as far as high school when the two friends first began jamming together. It seems that The Foxymorons are just a couple of guys still making the unpretentious pop-punk of my youth. They’re an interesting case, these two -– beginning as far back as they did (starting up in ’94, their first releases in ‘98 and ’99), David and Jerry have lived through a lot of great pop music while making their own. The end result is a group that has stayed true to their sound while at the same time incorporated a good deal of diversity by way of outside musical influences spanning the last 15+ years. The band’s most recent effort, entitled Bible Stories, clearly finds inspiration in everything from Teenage Fan Club to Pavement to Guided by Voices, but what it reminds me most of is an old favorite of mine from my years in California: J Church. Like so many of Lance Hahn’s (RIP) compositions, today’s Song of the day, “Out of Control,” has a quiet confidence that many will find disarming and familiar. Despite its title and lyrics, “Out of Control” is a reserved be-bopper of a tune that jingle-jangles with coming-of-age John Hughesy (also RIP) positivity. Maybe try listening to it in the shower!?