Graded on a Curve:
The Oxys,
A Date With The Oxys

Formed in Austin, TX in 2019 and consisting of vets from the punk rock scene, The Oxys dish out a beefed-up strain of pre-hardcore street punk that does more than merely cover the requisite stylistic territory. Punk rock is frequently raw and cacophonous, but it isn’t always heavy. A Date With The Oxys offers a pulverizing din launching from a foundation or real songs. The album, honed during the pandemic, is out now on vinyl, compact disc (with two bonus tracks), and digital (no bonus tracks) through Dead Beat Records.

The Oxys came together through Austin’s Punk Rock Lottery, an annual event where bands are formed by complete strangers through a simple drawing of names from a hat, with these freshly assembled outfits then given 30 days to come up with a some high-quality songs. Based on A Date With The Oxys, I will speculate that a baseline level of skill and experience is part of the contest so that across the 30 days the focus can be on songwriting rather than individual instrumental competency, to say nothing of group chemistry.

Having won the 2019 competition, Jason “Ginchy” Kottwitz and “Punk Rock Phil” Davis decided to form a “real band,” and The Oxys were born. The record features Kottwitz on all the guitars, plus some bass, organ, piano, and background vocals, Davis on lead vocals, James Sheeran on drums, and Gabriel Van Asher on bass.

As said, The Oxys specialize in street punk, an unsurprising circumstance given Kottwitz having played with the Dead Boys and Sylvain Sylvain. But their stated inspirations also include “snot punk” and power pop, complementary styles that help to broaden their sound a bit. The snot comes through most strongly in Davis’ vocals (he’s also played guitar with the Austin band Nowherebound).

In 2023, it should hopefully be understood that The Oxys aren’t leaving a trail of blown minds along their chosen path. Yes, theirs is familiar territory, but they do a couple of crucial things right. Foremost, they largely keep the attitude and the musical heft in proper balance. I say largely, as there are a few moments, “Voodoo Queen,” in particular, where Davis’ singing takes on a decidedly ’90s sneery tone.

But in the same track, Kottwitz’s lays down some smoking guitar, so the glass is never less than half full. And Davis’ vocals do keep A Date With The Oxys out of the pure retread zone. They don’t sound like the Dead Boys, or the Heartbreakers, or the Dolls, but they are informed by those bands, and that’s cool, especially as the other main point in The Oxys’ favor is a strong enough batch of songs to fill a whole album.

There are scads of great punk rock albums, but their number is dwarfed by the mass of flawed, mediocre, and downright bad LPs in the genre. I don’t rate A Date With The Oxys as a great record but do consider it to be an above average affair, and one that benefits from the unusual nature of its genesis.

GRADED ON A CURVE:
B

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