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Obnox – Corrupt Free Enterprise

on June 26, 2013, 12:03am

Is Cleveland the most evil city in America? Obnox makes a good case that it is on sophomore LP Corrupt Free Enterprise. The fact that he covers Tom Waits’ theme song from The Wire is as good a ‘Beware’ sign as any. Elsewhere, he guts KISS’ Destroyer, stealing all the main parts of “God of Thunder”, appropriating fuzz and guitars in screwed up places that would only occur to Trent Reznor.

Lamont “Bim” Thomas (a.k.a. Obnox) is a veteran of the ’90s Ohio punk/garage rock scene; he played in the blues/punk outfit the Bassholes and later, Puffy Areolas. Fearsome instruments ruled the Rust Belt. The rumblings of the scene are audible in the White Stripes, the Dirtbombs, and other bands that benefited from that particular time and area. Thomas’ appreciation for blues, Art Blakey, and Detroit soul sets his particular breed of soul/punk apart. His control is consistent throughout Enterprise, notably on the Cheater Slicks’ cover, “Ghost”. Heavy feedback is needled by electric guitar. It’s hardcore, but comprehensible.

Thomas’ curiosity with respect to genre explains “Deep in the Dusk”, a song that swings the oil-and-water combination of punk and R&B. Drum syncopation sinks the grooves in place. The same technique is repeated on the ramble-tamble “Ex Ole Lady/Ex Best Man”, a song that imitates a Dylanesque bar tale. The song’s Wild West chorus of “bang, bangs” do more summarizing than the lyrics care to tell. Musical flexibility also allows the 17-track Enterprise to affect eeriness, like on whining, winding “Ciara”. Subtlety doesn’t come easy with speed drums and a wall of guitars gunning down each verse.

Speaking of subtlety, enter the opposite: “(I Wanna Fuck You) Like A Puma”. Pure, dumb adrenaline and the vengeance of Public Enemy. Thomas sounds vaguely British in his nasal tone, brandishing his “honey” to all the young dudes. It’s a total reversal from the other best song on the album, the funkified “Being Cleveland”, which is the closest to rapping Thomas comes: “I could give a shit about your music scene/ I could give a shit about your football team.” Coming from an Ohio State man? If Cleveland is anything like Thomas, it’s a bad place indeed.

Essential Tracks: “(I Wanna Fuck You) Like a Puma”, “Deep in the Dusk”, and “Being Cleveland”.