SongCast

Though they’d probably disagree with the characterization, The Foxymorons lead a charmed existence. Childhood friends, Jerry James and David Dewese, live in different cities, don’t play shows, and get together every few years to make a record. One year, they decided to make pajamas instead. Through five full-length records and a various lo-fi releases, they’ve maintained a better working relationship than most bands who think it’s best to, you know, live in the same place and play together frequently.

Whether it’s pjs or fuzzy rock songs, the duo infuses their work with winning charm and a sense of play. Name-checking Gene Wilder or speak-singing the non-sequitur “the detective is behind the plants” doesn’t sound deliberately abstruse but playful. Last year’s Fake Yoga was smothered in feedback, backwards sounds, and distorted vocals. But it was never cold or mechanical. Warm melodies cut through the fuzz and made the band sound like a Lemonheads / Pavement love-child.

I spoke with Jerry about their process from writing through recording to publicizing.

The Foxymorons have an interesting writing process. How do you do it?

We usually write songs individually and share them with one another when we hang out together. The collaborative process is really fun. Songs can change a lot. It’s a pretty democratic process and the songs only get more interesting once the other guy gets his hands on it.

How do you decide when it’s time to make a record? Do the songs pile up first? Or do you decide to make a record and then write the songs for it?

It’s very organic and unplanned. Usually we each sort of stockpile song ideas that we’ve been individually working on. And ideally, we think “Hey, these kind of fit together. It’s time.”

Since you live in different states, do you start tracking separately or just demo individually and do all the recording together?

David has recording gear and he’s a decent home engineer so he’ll track his songs or do overdubs on my songs. For me, it’s way more fun when we’re both in the same room tracking together. It’s just exciting to hear the songs come together, make wisecracks, drink milkshakes, and have a late dinner after a long day of recording.

How do you handle mixing and mastering?

Most of our records have been mixed by our pal Matt Pence who we’d met back around the time of our 2nd record, Rodeo City. He’s a really gifted engineer. David usually sends our record off to get mastered by someone in his network of friends.

For your last record, Fake Yoga, you had a great deal of good press. How did you coordinate that?

We did a lot of the typical ‘shoulds’ for making a record: We designed an eye-catching one-sheet, made a web page with press resources, etc. But since we didn’t pay a PR company to handle press, we had to do a lot of our own marketing. It was a challenge and it can be demeaning work. It’s incredibly time-consuming to find e-mail addresses for music editors, freelance writers, music blogs, radio stations, etc. And those people have inboxes that get flooded daily by PR people and bands that are more prominent than ours. I don’t know — it’s definitely a bit of a crapshoot. There are no guarantees and it’s exhausting work that will make you ask “why am I doing this?” I would have to remind myself that making a record is the most important thing. Anything else is bonus.

Did you start promoting the record before you picked a release date or just pick a release date based on when you could get the promotion done?

We carefully selected a release date by working backward. We knew that we ought to give ourselves at least 2 months of lead time for promotion and that we needed to have our one-sheet, press resources, music links, etc. ready to give ourselves a decent shot at some coverage. And we had an idea of our promotional timeline, i.e. the dates when we’d have something to announce like a new single, a new video, etc.


How do you continue to promote the latest record (and all the previous ones) after the initial push to release it?

Well, there are diminishing returns to promoting a record after the release date has passed. Especially if you’re not playing live shows. Ideally, you ought to build on any small successes. If a press outlet or writer has covered you, perhaps they will continue to cover you if you have something new to share. But at some point, you just have to throw your hands up and say ‘My work is done’ and hope the right audience will find your music somehow.

Do you think that planned release date and coordinated effort around publicity is important for indie artists or can it be done in small amounts that aren’t organized around a release?

I think media outlets are typically more excited about a tangible news item: a full-length record, a 7″ single, a new video etc. I think people always gravitate to new music, especially if the band name, record artwork, press photos, the sound of the band all cohere in a compelling way.

How do you measure the success of a record?

The most important question. We talk a lot about this. And this may be a cliche at this point, but it’s the truth: Once you’ve made a record you love, it’s a success. Any other measure will inevitably lead to bitterness and disappointment. It’s gratifying for others to like it and it’s worth it to do everything you can to get others to hear it. But you know, you can only do so much.

– Todd A

http://blog.songcastmusic.com/2016/04/08/diy-spotlight-the-foxymorons/

Robert Christgau for VICE

Robert Christgau for Noisey by VICE

On their fifth album in 21 years, two Dallas pop-punk hobbyists and/or perfectionists attain the pop-punk grail: 10 tough, catchy, ebullient, stealth-strange songs in 32 minutes, dudless unless you count the dirgey change-of-pace novelty “The People” and fast unless you refuse to accept the closer for the summum it is. Summumming what exactly I cannot say, although such topics as the rewards of sentience, cherry lips in a permanent frown, drugs and hugs, and pop-punk nerds bullied on the schoolbus definitely arise. What signifies is that tunes abound, as do musical jokes. Let’s just figure out what it all means when they do it again. A MINUS – Robert Christgau

http://noisey.vice.com/blog/expert-witness-with-robert-christgau-up-the-alt

Blurt

NOT FAKIN’ IT: The Foxymorons
BY JOHN B. MOORE

It’s not easy to be a fan of the indie duo The Foxymorons.

On average there’s been about a five year gap between each album. And once that new record does come out, despite usually being worth the wait, chances are they won’t be playing those songs live any time soon.

But you suck it up, and to quote a million kindergarten teachers out there, “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” Because there are very few bands out there that can put together such a brilliant marriage of Pavement’s guitars and off-kilter lyrics and Brian Wilson’s sweet as honey harmonies.

There are also very few stories in the history of rock that begin at church camp, but that’s part of what makes The Foxymorons so unique: their origin story, and the knack for taking two seemingly disparate musical influences (that separately have launched a thousand bands) and combining them to create a wholly original sound. Imagine the Beach Boys or Big Star as a lo-fi band.

Foxymorons: Jerry James and David Dewese founded the group in the mid-‘90s in Mesquite, TX, and started by putting out a handful of 7-inch singles. In the two decades that have followed they’ve teased out five full lengths, the latest being Fake Yoga.

Not knowing when the band would resurface again, we used this as an excuse to reach out to James, who was cool enough to take some time recently to talk about the latest record, try and explain the long absences between records and once again, talk about that fateful church camp meeting.

BLURT: As a long-time fan of your music, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out how frustrating long a wait it tends to be between releases. What is the biggest reason for the wait? Is it a lack of inspiration? Are you guys simply busy with other things?

JERRY JAMES: We really never intend for it to take so long between releases. If we were smarter and more ambitious, we’d release a record every other year. But our approach to the band has always been so casual – and has always taken a backseat to our friendship – that it takes us a long time to get around to recording. Not to mention the fact that we live a thousand miles from one another.

Where are you both living now?

David lives in San Diego. I live in Fort Worth, TX.

Given the distance, how do you pull together songs for an album? Do you get together for a few days or a few weeks and play each other what you’ve been working on and build on the songs? Or do you guys send each other demos back and forth so you can react to them in real time?

David and I are really good friends so we usually see each other a few times a year to hang out and do fun stuff. And at some point, we’ll usually pull out an acoustic guitar and strum out songs we’ve finished or are still working out. When we started out making records, it was common for us to send tapes back and forth in the mail or sing a song into the other dude’s voicemail. These days we usually just wait until we’re in the same room.

How do you know when you’re ready to go into a studio to record?

At some point, we know we’ve got a collection of 12 or 14 songs that fit together and feel like a record. But even then, we’ll drag our feet and it will take a while before the record button ever gets pushed.

How do you guys work out the music? Do you sit in a room together or work separately?

A little of both. We usually write songs separately and bring them to the band to take apart and/or build upon. Sometimes the songs change a little; sometimes they change a lot.

I know these has been covered before and is almost lore at this point, but can you talk about the Sunday school classroom and the drum and how it led to your first recordings?

David and I met at church camp and attended the same church as teenagers. Shiloh Terrace Baptist Church. There was a Sunday school classroom that had a drum kit set up and the front doors at church were typically unlocked. So we’d head up there, lug in guitars, amps, and a tape recorder and make some joyful noise. We covered songs like The Lemonheads’ “It’s a Shame About Ray” or Pavement’s “Box Elder”. It was a really fun antidote to summer boredom.

When did you first start work on the songs that eventually made it onto Fake Yoga?

We started recording demos of some of those songs in David’s basement in Nashville before our last record, Bible Stories, had even come out.

Is there significance to that album title or did you just like the way it sounded?

Well, for one, before I started a proper yoga practice, I would make up ‘fake’ yoga poses to do in the morning to get the blood flowing. But also, there are lots of debates in the culture about ‘fake’ vs ‘authentic’ which is interesting and funny to me. Fake punk. Fake outrage. Fake grassroots. Fake tans. Plus, it sounded cool.

The new record sounds not too far removed from your earlier, more lo-fi releases. Was that a conscious decision to go back to that similar sound?

Not really. We’ve always liked noise and the songs were just sort of turning out that way. But you’re right, the songs from our first 7” single would have felt right at home on this record.

A bulk of the interviews and reviews I have read about your music over the years almost always cite Pavement, Big Star and sometimes the Beach Boys. Are those pretty accurate musical touchstones for you?

Yeah, those are really special bands to us. We were both Pavement obsessives in the ‘90s – maybe me a little more than David. And we both love weird pop music and Big Star is definitely a band to which we’re both drawn.

What do you when you are not working on Foxymorons’ music? Are you involved with any other music projects?

David has released a few solo records and leads worship music at his church. As for me, The Foxymorons is the only musical project in which I’ve ever been involved. Other than that, the last year or so has been one of travel and creative projects.

Any chance you will tour at all when the record comes out?

We’re always open to the prospect of touring but it all depends on the right circumstances. At this point, we’re just thrilled that we get to make music and we are really happy about this record. We’re available for whatever comes.

So what’s next for you?

Who knows? It’s hard to say. We both lead full lives but this band has been really important to us. And it’s fun to quietly put out records regardless of how people respond to them. I think making our particular kind of noise is a privilege and an extension of a great friendship.
http://blurtonline.com/feature/not-fakin-foxymorons/

Magnet Magazine

THE FOXYMORONS: REAL MUSIC, FAKE BAND

The thrill of collaboration keeps the Foxymorons fresh at the precipice of 40.

David Dewese and Jerry James, the friends that make records as the Foxymorons, met at church camp when they were in high school. They discovered they had an affinity for noisy, primitive rock bands. Since they both played rudimentary guitar, they thought about starting a band.

“In our late teenage years, we pretended we were in a band called the Foxymorons,” says James.

“We didn’t play music or write songs,” says Dewese. “I remember braggadociously telling waitresses we were in a band called the Foxymorons. It was a great name for a fake teen punk band 20 years ago.”

Eventually, the duo honed its chops and began writing and recording. “Our first single was done on a four-track cassette tape,” says James. “I recorded drums, guitar and vocals and sent the tape to David. He added guitar and vocals and sent it back. We traded the same cassette tape a few times until we were satisfied.”

They pressed up a seven-inch single and mailed it to radio stations, fanzines and distributors. A copy found its way to Mel Cheplowitz at American Pop Project Records, who asked the Foxymorons if they’d like to put out an album. They said yes.

Although they’d never played live, their debut album, Calcutta, got stellar reviews. As soon as it was out, Dewese moved to Nashville to play in an alt-country band. James stayed in Texas. They’ve maintained a long-distance collaboration ever since, and just finished work on Fake Yoga, a return to the primal sound of their debut.

“We’ve been a bit precious and ornate with the musical arrangements on our last few albums,” says Dewese. “We really wanted to strip away all those layers and get back to the raw elements of being in a rock band. We purposely recorded with a limited palette of options. We wrote separately, as usual, later realizing we’d both consistently left out bridges, extra verses and even some choruses.”

While Fake Yoga has elements drawn from country and pop music, including the duo’s sweet, Beach Boys-flavored harmonies, the album is dominated by their distorted, almost metallic guitar work.

“This album reminds me of the music we played when we started out: noisy and primitive, but still melodic,” says James. “Fake Yoga is a brattier record than our last couple of releases. Maybe it’s because we’re turning 40? I’ve always been drawn to no wave-inspired guitar rock, the artier side of punk. Or it might have something to do with the fact that I see a lot of guys my age playing in Texas country bands. I mean, nothing against that, but I’m not ready to do that yet.”

Dewese and James work separately, but by the time they’ve recorded a song, the interplay between them has always transformed the tunes into something unexpected. There are no album credits or liner notes, except those crediting their drummer, Will Johnson from Centro-matic.

“There can be something inherently narcissistic and counter-productive about getting too concerned about credit,” says James.

“It’s not important for us to notate who performs what, since we constantly exchange instruments and vocals,” says Dewese. “We sing and perform everything, and happily credit friends like Will, when they help out. As a long-distance duo, we record most of our records one instrument at a time. We built (the songs on Fake Yoga) over a corny drum loop, one guitar or vocal at a time. We had Will record his drums last, so he was playing along to our completed songs with that corny drum loop running in the background. What a dude!”

James says the method they’ve developed over the years suits their idiosyncratic writing and production style. “The process is very organic,” he emphasizes. “Sometimes I listen back to our records and think, ‘How did it end up like this?’ One of the exciting things about making records is the heady process of sharing ideas and letting things happen. We’ll blatantly rip of some small thing—like a guitar part, a vocal inflection, a harmony—from our record collections, be it the Byrds, Big Star or Half Japanese, and it becomes its own thing and takes us down a new path.”

—j. poet

http://www.magnetmagazine.com/2015/12/04/the-foxymorons-real-music-fake-band/

Dagger Zine

I don’t follow this Texas duo as often as I should but every time a new record pops into my po box I always think, “Oh cool, those guys are still around” as I always want to check out what they’re up to. The duo of David Dewese (who now actually lives in Nashville) and Jerry James (still in thei hometown of Dallas) have been at it for two decades (yup) and this is full-length number five. Co-produced by Centromatic’s Will Johnson it seems like the band has gotten a bit more ragged on this release (maybe Johnson helped there). Loose ends are hanging all of the place and while the band’s pop tunes are still there (mostly) sparks are flying off in different parts that we had not seen before (check out the melodic-yet-sizzling “Spinning on a Needle”). Layers of soot permeate the excellent “Frontier Feelings” which I was reminded of 90’s staples like Butterglory and Beulah (also on the punchier, superb “Permanent Frown”) while they channel their inner/outer Velvet Underground love (or maybe it’s Mercury Rev) on the trippy “Hugs/Drugs.” OK, so if we wanna get technical here I think Hesitation Eyes is still my favorite Foxymorons record but Fake Yoga is a close second and I really hope these guys hang around and keep doing this every few years.

http://daggerzine.tumblr.com

Spectrum Culture

In the immortal words of Spinal Tap’s David St. Hubbins, “There’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” Miraculously, childhood friends Jerry James and David Dewese have found a way to toe that line by naming their band the Foxymorons. Fortunately, their music is far from gimmicky, even if the ‘90s-style alt-rock packed with huge, genuinely infectious hooks and glorious guitar fuzz that James and Dewese seek to emulate on their fifth album, Fake Yoga, has theoretically become uncommon enough in the years since it was actually popular to be considered a gimmick. But great melodies are timeless, and, being chock full of ‘em, Fake Yoga is no nostalgia-fest, as much as it pleasingly recalls mid-‘90s faves like Wilco, Pavement and the Flaming Lips. In the end, it’s just a catchy-as-hell rock record.

Funnily enough, the Foxymorons can actually be considered contemporaries of those bands mentioned above to some degree, considering the fact that they originated as a lo-fi home recording project in Mesquite, Texas back in 1994. Twenty years later, James and Dewese are still playing almost everything themselves on Fake Yoga, save the drums by Texas indie rock luminary Will Johnson of the recently disbanded Centro-Matic. Centro-Matic’s Matt Pence also mixed the album, and it sounds like it. This isn’t even garage rock; it’s more like bedroom rock. Not to say it isn’t noisy or energetic. It is very much so all the way through. But there’s a palpable sense of intimacy to Fake Yoga’s Spartan-yet-full-bodied guitars/bass/drums arrangements and endearing performances. That dudes-next-door feel is abetted greatly by James and Dewese’s playful vocals, charmingly cracking and rasping at all the right moments – see the off-kilter, abrupt, yet sort of adorable shriek that closes “Sentient Creatures.”

There are, indeed, plenty of dudes next door capable of replicating the singing and guitar work found on Fake Yoga, or at least a sloppy, inferior facsimile of them. Most of them aren’t capable of writing melodies this insanely hooky, though. Almost every song on the album features a tightly honed, honey-sweet earworm hook, from the sharp and caustic “Later, Alligator” to the near-bubblegum sugary goodness of “Always Come Back.” I mean, goddamn, send these guys back in the DeLorean a couple of decades and the driving “Sentient Creatures” would have easily rivaled “She Don’t Use Jelly” and “Cut Your Hair” as the alt-rock hit of 1994. It’s got all the necessary elements – the fuzzy guitars, the semi-ironic Beatlesque backing vocals, the impish DIY aesthetic and the aforementioned shriek.

With cleaner production, a few of the melodies on Fake Yoga may have wound up sounding a bit too cute for some. Fortunately, however, James and Dewese wisely coat the entire record in a delightfully grimy layer of fuzz – the guitars, the vocals, the bass, everything. Basically, if you loved the distortion pedal filter of Pavement’s “Date with IKEA,” you’re going to love the way this album sounds. The fuzz grants the rockers an irreverent edge and propulsive energy, but unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same effect on the slower tunes. Even on an album that’s barely over half an hour long, Fake Yoga loses considerable momentum when it backs off the frenetic sugar rush pace it establishes for most of its running time. The amorphous drag “The People” stops the album in its tracks just as it’s getting started, and while the closing duo of “Slow Geometry” and “Mixed Meds” are much more melodically solid, they constitute a bit of a deflating way to end such an effortlessly fun record.

http://spectrumculture.com/2015/11/16/the-foxymorons-fake-yoga/

Dallas Observer

The Foxymorons are barely a local band. Only one of the two members live in North Texas. In fact, what Fort Worth’s Jerry James and San Diego’s (by way of Nashville and Dallas) David Dewese have together may not even be an actual band. Depending on how one defines a band, Foxymorons may be more of an art project, from which an album will occasionally spring forth. The duo’s fantastic, addictive new album, the Matt Pence-produced Fake Yoga (due out November 6) featuring Will Johnson on the drums, will be the sixth record the close friends have released since forming Foxymorons after meeting at a Mesquite church in the mid-1990s.

Between the deliberate pacing of album releases, a dearth of live shows (past or scheduled) and an admitted lack of any connection with the current local music landscape, some fervent locavores or Deep Ellum diehards may stop at the surface and decide Fake Yoga isn’t worth digging into further if they haven’t already. But that would be a narrow-minded mistake, and would miss the point of what a single, well-crafted album can mean, regardless of “how local” or active a couple of creative, talented students of rock music may be.

“Music is a hard way to get rich and famous no matter who you are,” says James, who shares writing and singing duties with Dewese. “But I’m drawn to the spirit of smaller bands that make idiosyncratic records. There’s something special about it, and in some ways, our band is a rebuke to the idea of careerism in music. Why would we still make records since our first 7-inch single in 1998? I mean, don’t get me wrong; it would be a wonderful thing for us if lots of people heard our music. That’s the goal. But in a way, I think there’s something cool about just making something. My favorite bands — successful or not — seemed to be in it for the sake of creating something cool and putting it out. There’s a certain graciousness to that.”

While there may eventually be a few Foxymorons concerts scheduled, “If things line up just right,” James sees the recorded product standing more or less alone as something that incidentally may add a bit of enigmatic charm to this project. On the surface, purposely scoffing at the typically accepted, unwritten rules of how to conduct a digital-age indie group seems self-defeating. But Foxymorons began as a couple of guys bopping a drum in a church fellowship hall before releasing anything, o there’s abundant truth and authenticity when James fails to be worried about the potential impact of not touring or hiring a massive PR team to get things rolling for this record.

“I’ve always thought people engaged with music, or any kind of art, really, because it added to their lives in some way,” he says. “I buy books and attend museums regardless of whether I’d get to meet the writer or artist. Besides, bands that rarely play live have always held a certain allure or mystery for me anyway.”

It’s not as though the duo, used to long-distance creation, makes its music in a secretive manner or locks itself in an underground shelter only to emerge every few years with new tunes. Simply put, James and Dewese have active lives outside of music, and living so far apart makes life as a band difficult to plan out in advance. But when it was time to record for this collection of songs, in which various parts had been exchanged between the two via email for the past couple of years, the famed Echo Lab in Argyle was an easy selection.

Johnson and Pence, both of the sadly defunct and highly respected Centro-matic, have had a role in most Foxymoron efforts to date, whether it’s been as engineer, producer or drummer. James, like so many others in North Texas, was turned onto Centro after hearing “Rock and Roll Eyes” on the (also sadly defunct) Adventure Club radio show. After catching a Johnson solo show in Denton, James soon mustered up the courage to hand his new musical hero a four-track recording of some of the earliest Foxymoron songs, thus beginning a long-time friendship.

“I’ve loved Jerry and David’s songs going back almost 20 years now,” says Johnson, as he recovers from a recent run of solo shows out West. “I’ve always been grateful for the friendship and musical connection, and have long identified with their lyrical, melodic and aesthetic approaches. To occasionally be included as part of their signature, beautiful noise has always meant a great deal to me.”

As Johnson says, “beautiful noise” is a fine way to sum up what can be heard throughout Fake Yoga. That’s not necessarily been the case on past albums where James and Dewese have had a more cleanly defined sound to accompany the strong melodies and poppy catchiness that has bubbled forth from each Foxymorons recording.

James admits that Foxymorons’ records are rarely “planned out in advance,” and given the inner workings of the group, a casual approach seems to be the best fit. The evolution of the group’s sound also has been the result of gradual development, and a reflection of the two buddies and where they stand with each other, and where they are in their lives individually. A new Foxymorons record isn’t about hitting the road to indie buzz and NPR-flavored stardom, but a practice in friendship and seeing a musical vision through to its proper finale.

“I think all of our records have a certain feel to them,” James says. “This one certainly feels more abrasive and distorted than the last couple of records, but it is still tuneful. There was no grand plan. We both turned 40 since the last album, so maybe making a bratty, noisy record was a reaction to that.”

http://www.dallasobserver.com/

Paste

While some might assume that The Foxymorons fall under the power-pop banner, the truth is, there’s no musical tag that’s readily made for them. Even after repeated listens, their sound and set-ups seem to defy any sort of easy identification. Though they’ve been friends from their school days, David Dewese and Jerry James come across as an unlikely duo, even after five full-length albums, each boasting a sound that’s as confounding as their handle otherwise implies. Thus far they’ve avoided any attempt at typecasting, although their grungy garage sound does owes a debt to Mott the Hoople, early Bowie and Johnny Thunders in attitude as much as amplitude. Pavement and latter-day Wilco also come to mind, but these are merely touchstones and not the definitive definitions that such comparisons might otherwise imply.

Naturally then, Fake Yoga expands on that subversive stance established early on, but here again, Foxymorons avoid typecasting and obvious angles. Instead, they opt to confound their listeners with reams of noise and feedback, making for a series of soundscapes that have songs and static constantly competing for attention. The fuzzy tones of two supposed pharmaceutical entries, “Mixed Meds” and “Hugs/Drugs,” exploit that delirious delivery, each a raucous musical melange that emphasizes noise over nuance. The lyrics and the liner notes expound on their woozy conceits, describing scenarios that pit Richard Hell against Woody Allen, day jobs that find workers watching the clock, the threat from kops and kanines (their spelling, not ours) and the deliberate way one chooses to part his or her hair on one side as opposed to the other. It may sound weird to the unawares, but then that’s the Foxymorons conceit, the product of a band that’s as elusive as it is eccentric.

Ultimately, Fake Yoga has little to do with ruminating about meditation, even though that’s what the album title might imply. Nothing here could be considered contemplative, and to suggest otherwise would be to give a false impression. The energy and exhilaration exhibited in a song like “Later, Alligator” exemplifies the irreverent attitude that’s purveyed in the music throughout. It’s manifested in a delivery that’s so jittery and jarring, there’s practically no way to sit still—which, after all, fits in well with their generally whacked-out vibe. Granted, these Foxymorons don’t give in to easy description, but clearly there’s a certain method to their madness as well.

http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/11/the-foxymorons-fake-yoga-review.html

Reverb

The virtues of the sporadic musical project are many. Without the pressures of a full-time touring gig, artists often sound looser and more inspired than the projects they’re best known for — think Damon Albarn (Blur vs. Gorillaz), Kim Deal (Pixies vs. The Breeders) or Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr. vs. Sebadoh).

But if something is sporadic and therefore easily set aside for years, progress is hard to measure. If there’s little pressure to begin with — time-wise, economic, etc. — a more casual approach is pretty much built in, resulting in something that can sound alternately self-indulgent and out of practice. It’s a fraught path, but against the odds, The Foxymorons have sidestepped most of its obstacles.

The Foxymorons aren’t exactly a side project, but they are inherently sporadic. Jerry James and David Dewese, who have been buddies since their childhood in Mesquite, Texas, began playing music together after finding a drumkit in an abandoned church in the mid-’90s. After a well-received 7-inch and four randomly released full-lengths of wry, heart-on-its-sleeve indie rock and twangy folk-pop, they’ve returned with their first new album in five years, “Fake Yoga.” Now in their 40s, the guys (Dewese in San Diego and James in Fort Worth, Texas) have wedged their latest passion project between the slices of life that soak up most of their time.

Their complementary but wildly different voices require a careful balance, and the band usually finds it. It’s not simply that they’ve learned how to sound cohesive whenever they’re inspired or available. It’s that their voices seemingly belong in two different bands; newcomers might find James’ cracked, tinder-dry pipes and Dewese’s rich, smooth crooning a bit of a stylistic contradiction. Similarly, James’ and Dewese’s songwriting and playing are alternately slack and manicured, rambling and plotted. It’s part of the band’s charm, and something that wasn’t entirely out of place during their ’90s indie rock genesis.

Aggressive new album “Fake Yoga,” their first in five years, wavers between wounded and joyous, cynical and guileless. It suffers from some of the same songwriting and pacing issues as previous full-lengths, but its highs are loftier than anything the band has released. Credit goes in part to drummer Will Johnson, who’s best known for his work in fuzz-rock titans Centro-matic and the haunting, spare South San Gabriel. Johnson, who previously drummed on three songs on the Foxymorons’ 2001 release “Rodeo City,” provides the band’s best backbeats so far, especially on the blissed-out (if lyrically weak) “Permanent Frown,” which sounds like a sugar-coated nugget of ’70s glam-pop being digested by an alt-rocker.

Dewese’s innate understanding of pop melodies pays off repeatedly on the otherwise noisy record, playing the sophisticated foil to James’ poetic but musically straightforward laments. The balance isn’t always there, particularly when numerous James songs are sequenced back-to-back, crying out for the bubble-grunge lift of Dewese’s voice, but the subtle Velvet Underground textures of “Hugs/Drugs” and the Pixies-like lope of “Slow Geometry” at least make “Fake Yoga” a consistently rewarding guitar album (and a tight one, clocking in just over a half-hour in 10 songs).

Past the stylistic signposts — Big Star, Gram Parsons, Pavement — the Foxymorons have carved an impressive path for themselves in an art form that doesn’t always reward long stretches off or fits of playful exploration. More than two decades into their musical partnership, “Fake Yoga” finds Dewese and James as hungry, entertaining and tuneful as ever.

http://www.heyreverb.com/blog/2015/11/03/the-foxymorons-fake-yoga-bends-itself-into-shape-album-review/109691/

Consequence of Sound

The Foxymorons is a terrible pun and an even worse band name. It’s also entirely forgivable, considering that the Texan duo — made up of childhood friends Jerry James and David Dewese — were in their early 20s when they came up with it back in 1994. That puts them both somewhere in their 40s these days, not that you’d know that from a cursory listen of their fifth LP, Fake Yoga. In addition to boasting the snottiest album title of their career, it comes swarming with fuzz and adolescently crunchy hooks, a far cry from the more delicate, pastoral plucking heard on 2010’s Bible Studies.

In the wrong hands, this could come off as a sonic midlife crisis, a cynical attempt at a rebellion that hadn’t even been tackled in the band’s younger days. But in The Foxymorons’ case, the amped up energy stems not from a desperate bid for youth, but an anxiety that’s very much the result of getting older. James, Dewese, and their rotating cast of session players aren’t blowing out the garage because they want to feel young again — they’re doing it so they can be at peace with their current age.

The result is a record caught between young adulthood and just plain adulthood, but you have to delve into the lyrics to discover that dichotomy. And, even then, the clues come from individual lines instead of a greater narrative. “Sentient Creatures” shows someone who’s tired of “running from canines and cops,” and “Later, Alligator” turns that exact rock cliche on its head by aiming it at the recklessness of the narrator’s past, a recklessness they’re not so sure they want to be associated with anymore. In that sense, it’s the indie slacker equivalent of Lou Reed’s “Hangin’ ‘Round”.

But even in its most blatant rejections of juvenilia, Fake Yoga isn’t exactly sure of its own maturity, and that’s a good thing. Lest the sneering James and the more full-throated Dewese (the two split lead vocal duties almost down the middle) come off as holier than youth, they admit to making some of the same boneheaded mistakes they decry. These range from the off-and-on-and-off relationship in “Spinning On a Needle” (the album’s most fuzz-drowned track) to the on-and-off-and-on one in “Always Come Back”. “Slow Geometry” gets nittier and grittier by hinging the success of yet another messy romance on a couple’s shared love of pop culture. By the end, we know that a cool record collection does not a stable relationship make, even if those records are by Neil Young (On the Beach) and Minor Threat (Complete Discography, because what else would it be?).

The only time Fake Yoga falls into the condescension it so deftly avoids elsewhere is on “Permanent Frown”, a simplified profile of the typical (and also non-existent) rock and roll bad girl we’ve heard in countless songs before. It might stand out if Dewese ever got past his laundry list of the woman’s gloomy yet alluring physical features (get the juxtaposition?), but he doesn’t: piercings, shredded roots, cherry lips, a permanent frown, yada yada yada.

Thankfully, “Permanent Frown” still comes laced with enough power pop caffeine to keep the listener jolted, and like everything else on Fake Yoga, its unique status (in this case, being the one weak track on the album) comes solely from reading along with the lyrics. Words aren’t for everyone, so those who prefer just to listen will likely have fun. And those who decide to go deeper might start to feel old, which, in the world of The Foxymorons means feeling at ease, or at least trying to.

http://consequenceofsound.net/2015/11/album-review-the-foxymorons-fake-yoga/