Stress Jingle/Station ID #34 : OBNOX

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There has been many great garage and noise rock bands proliferating since the beginning of this century, but there's one artist who stands head and shoulders above all the rest, and that is one man soul-punk bomb OBNOX. Since 2011, he has been forging a unique and impressive body of work with nine highly recommended releases which smash punk, noise, rock, soul, pop and hip-hop into a feedback soaked rhythmic roller coaster, the likes of which don't come around very often. It might look raw but it sounds cooked - behind all the cacophony of gloriously sculpted white noise, there's a consistent sense of melody and song structure which, after your ear drums have been chewed and spat out, makes you want to go back for another spin.

OBNOX is the alias of Lamont "Bim" Thomas, a resident of Cleveland, Ohio, who's been the powerhouse drummer behind a who's who of recent Ohio post-punk bands, including Bassholes, This Moment in Black History, Puffy Areolas and The Unholy Two. Thomas has spent a lifetime immersed in music. Upon settling in Columbus he stumbled onto the city's fervent underground music scene and got a job at Used Kids Records, according to himself "one of the best record stores in the country", which provided him with a bastion of knowledge on a huge variety of music styles. There he met Don Howland, a former member of the legendary Gibson Bros (a group which paved the way for bands like Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), and became the drummer for Howland's blues punk power duo The Bassholes. Their partnership has lasted over a decade and has produced a string of great records including "And Without a Name", "When My Blue Moon Turns Red Again" and  many others.

Thomas then moved to Cleveland in the early 2000's and became involved in a number of other notorious local bands like
heavy-psych rock trashers Puffy Areolas and the post-punk/hardcore group This Moment in Black History. In 2011 OBNOX was born with the debut "I'm Bleeding Now", which sold out so quickly that a reissue was necessary only a year later. Thomas says that he wanted "to do a recording that was raw and blown out, done quickly for cheap". The album was finished in seven days. “I’m into the recorded arts," he explains "but I like to work quickly and effectively. I don’t feel like sitting around trying to be McCartney and Lennon holed up in the studio for a month-- all the feeling goes away.” This refusal to overthink is perhaps what gives Thomas’s projects such thrilling immediacy. The result is a potent mixture of Ohio punk rock and Detroit soul where the needle is always in the red.

Thomas explains his recording process as building up layers of rhythm as the basis, and later adding vocals for melodies - "like James Brown, it was just rhythm, and the next thing you know, Maceo's blowing, and there's your melody." Though OBNOX is essentially a solo project, Thomas has often included guest contributions, drawing on the many musicians he's encountered in Ohio over the years, like guitarist Bill Weita from Fuzzhead.

A year after "I'm Bleeding Now", OBNOX released a series of great EPs - "Masonic Reducer" (a title referencing Cleveland's legendary proto-punkers Rocket From The Tombs), "Purple Reign" and "Rojo" - a sonic monster of rhythmical noise, krautrock drones and the free jazz skronk of the Impulse/ESP record masters. "Rojo", described by Thomas as "noisy as fuck with some kind of African freakbeat, and with some sprinkles of Can", is an intense and powerful work, and one of the highest points in his discography. In 2013, Thomas kept his extremely prolific pace by releasing another string of excellent EPs - "Smoky Woody Haze", "A Ragin' in the Sun", "Canabible Ohio" and "Three Times Dope" - and topped it all with the astonishing double LP "Corrupt Free Enterprise", which has been included in the top position of countless best-of-2013 releases.

Considered to be his boldest and most ambitious work yet, the album wastes no time taking a hammer to the eardrum and making blood rush to the head with the opener "By Myself", which then transitions to the sex-jam sonic propeller "(I Want To) Fuck You Like A Puma". As CFE unravels there's layers of psychedelia, funk, soul and hip hop experimentalism among the blasted shards of punk and noise. As Thomas digs through his record collection for inspiration, CFE builds up into a cohesive, knowledgeable album, which destroys rock and roll in order to recreate it in all its chaotic and energetic glory. His vision is so complete that it's difficult to tell without liner notes whether any given song is an original or a cover. And there's plenty of both on this record, including catchy renditions of Tom Waits' theme from The Wire "Way Down in the Hole" and the Cheater Slicks' "Ghost".

"Louder Space", OBNOX's 10th release, is set to come out in 2014. Until then, you can find OBNOX music HERE and HERE, and don't forget to visit his soundcloud page.

"An artist of unparalleled brilliance. (...) What OBNOX does is destroy your speakers with a phalange of sound... from Soul to Hip Hop to Trash and Nasty Blues. Over a slew of releases, Lamont Thomas has redefined expectation, and fucked with yr head, spinning transistor crackle into full fledged rawk'n'roll... (...) Grab every damn record you can... You'll be sorry if you missed 'em..."

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