A lo-fi collaboration between Dewese and his Texas-based boyhood chum Jerry James, the Foxymorons indulge in slapdash, Americana-inclined “found pop,” with melodies, lyrics, and licks that seem to have slipped straight from the nerve center of the brain to the fingers and mouths of the musicians. Their debut lp Calcutta was a little too inert, but the follow-up, rodeo city, conveys relaxation and recreation without fogging out. It’s a cool thing, and the band’s first middle Tennessee gig should be cool as well.
The Foxymorons, David Dewese and Jerry James, live hundreds of miles away from each other and construct their music via tapes sent by mail and answering machines. These childhood friends have uncovered an amazing synergy, however. Rodeo City, the group’s second lp, is a stirring collection of bright, catchy indie rock that, at various times, recalls the lo-fi magic of early Pavement and Sebadoh, the unabashed power pop glory of Big Star, and the stark, guitar-strummy appeal of the Velvet Underground. A tall order, but the group succeeds where other would-be cultish lo-fiers have stumbled. In many of the tracks on Rodeo City (titled in tribute to both a Big Star album and the duo’s native Mesquite, Texas), there’s a sweet melodic hook that makes you catch your breath – like the way “Summer Bummer” bursts wide open two minutes in, with Dewese singing desperately against a wall of guitars; or the loud peal of guitar that bursts through the innocuous opening rhythm of “ready to go,” spurring James into the second verse. And then there’s “Baby Blue,” the most beautiful guitar-pop ditty you haven’t heard yet. Don’t let the goofy name fool you, these guys write formidable, sun-baked guitar pop, and this album is pure clotted cream. Highly recommended.
Given the band’s silly name and the fact that almost nobody has even heard of them, it’s a shock that the Foxymorons’ sophomore effort is so damn stunning and addictive. It’s certainly more than you would expect from a sly pair of twentysomething fellows channeling Big Star, the Velvets, and other greats in a basement in Dallas, Texas. But although the Foxmorons basically have the same methods and ingredients as so many faceless college rock bands, their songwriting is frighteningly sharp, almost like lost cuts from the boys’ hallowed heroes themselves (with some Beach Boys and Byrds to boot). The standout second song, “August Moon,” is the perfect single that never was, a sweetly yearning singalong that toys with its own catchy cleverness. And that’s the rule here, not the exception. Indie rock jangle and rootsy hooks have seldom hit home as frequently as they do on Rodeo City. If all your Pavement and Sebadoh records have become too familiar and bland, look to the Foxymorons for that much-deserved blast of exhilaratingly fresh air.