Convention says bands should pick an image. In order for marketing machines to pitch your band to consumers, you need to project a look, a sound, an attitude to which fans will relate. At least, that’s what Convention says. The Foxymorons don’t care much for convention. Like their power-pop colleagues Fountains of Wayne, they’ll go anywhere the spirit leads musically, throwing identity out the proverbial window. Plus, just look at their name — would you want to market that?
The Foxymorons, made up of David Dewese and Jerry James, split their time between Dallas and Nashville and have played together since the high school. Their most recent album, Bible Stories, is their first in five years and fits in perfectly with their previous releases. But, unlike Fountains of Wayne, who reference schmaltzy 1970s hits, country, traditional folk, hard rock, and other major stylistic touch-points, The Foxymorons choose to limit their winks and nods just to indie rock. Bible Stories ends up a tour de force through the past 30 years of less-than-popular pop music.
The first half of Bible Stories, for example, fish-tails like an ice road-trucker. The album’s opener, “Out of Control,” plays like Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life,” but turns into Teenage Fanclub for the chorus. “Skinny Cow Blues” has all the lazy swagger of Pavement’s best mid-tempo tracks, while “This Too Shall Pass” evokes Elliot Smith’s sweetest moments. Then, the band rolls right into “Say It Aloud,” which almost out-Dinosaur Jr.’s Dinosaur Jr. And while the second half settles down a bit, they still throw in a hint of early Guided By Voices with the 52-second-long lo-fi outing, “All You Ever Wanted.”
Within many of these tracks are clean acoustics, Nashville-cat guitar fills, or lush vocal harmonies that might not have originally fit in with what The Foxymorons are referencing. But, it’s those bits of traditional song craft that give the band what cohesiveness it possesses, and helps Bible Stories sound new but instantly familiar.
And the material is strong throughout. Just like with the aforementioned Teenage Fanclub, which features three singer/songwriters and can take the best from each songwriter for each record, Dewese and James are able to contribute their best ideas without becoming overpowered by a single voice. Those alternating voices help keep the album fresh from track-to-track as the ideas shift, and when those voices share the same tastes and vision, the results can sometimes be as magical as they are on Bible Stories.