Obnox – Murder Radio
Lamont Thomas squeezed out two more albums in 2017 than his hometown Cleveland Browns did wins. He’s got the Brownies beat over a three-year horizon, too. Recording as Obnox, Thomas is a one-man lo-fi cottage industry, ricocheting between damaged rock and reimagined basement hip hop, inciting an occasional collision between the two.
Last May’s more groove-oriented Niggative Approach (he can call it that, you can’t – deal with it) emphasized the latter, in a package that might be dubbed more approachable – if only by Obnox standards. A mere five months later, Thomas returned to offer the other side of the coin.
Murder Radio sounds like a heavy early ’70s blues-pysch album from the likes of Blue Cheer. Its densely layered guitar jams are front and center, backed with drums seemingly recorded down the hallway and vocals from another garage across the alley. Even though Thomas’s opening salvos frequently threaten to burst into Swell Maps songs, I can’t shake the sense that a big shot producer could spin this raw material into something that might even woo Black Sabbath fans.
Obnox’s slapdash veneer belies a craftsman’s attention to detail. There are serious hooks here, if you’re willing to work for them. And Thomas, who cut his teeth drumming in countless Ohio punk bands, can really sing. The best example of both of these is “I Hate Everything,” which could hold its own on late night classic rock radio.
Thomas waits until Murder Radio’s back half to unleash his funk side, and it’s worth the wait – “Bangaar” grooves like George Clinton circa Maggot Brain. A pair of sludgy six-minute tracks late in the game push the stoner template too far, but don’t bail out before the excellent “Mogul Chokehold,” which presages a wholly new genre blending trip hop, raga and Blaxploitation soundtracks.
Those lacking a tolerance for shit-fi sound quality need not apply. But fans of early Grifters or Blues Explosion – what are you waiting for?