Alt Tuesday: ZOX

Few albums can remind me of home like ZOX’s 2006 release, The Wait. Perhaps this is because the just so happens to be a local legend where I come from. The Providence based quartet is on a sort of hiatus right now, but that doesn’t stop them from reuniting and tearing apart Lupo’s (a local venue in Providence) for an evening once or twice a year. The Wait, their second of three releases, is a masterful blend of ska, punk, and alternative influences, with a shredding viola player thrown in for good measure.

The album opener (after a 30 second intro track of echoed drums) is “Thirsty,” which is carried by guitarist/lead singer, Eli Miller’s catchy ska riffs. His heartfelt, straight-to-the-point lyricism is displayed prominently here, as he bellows in the chorus “This wouldn’t be the first time / You left me thirsty / This wouldn’t be the first time you went your way and left me empty, dry.”

The album’s lead single comes in third and it is the bass driven “Carolyn.” A gorgeously structured pop song driven by Dan Edinberg’s smooth bass lines, Carolyn offers a very honest story about the troubles of being in love.

This is a reoccurring theme on The Wait, as Eli Miller tends to focus on the more difficult part of his love life. Unlike many of the genre’s whiney counterparts, he comes off entirely sincere.

Other stand out tracks on the album include “A Little More Time,” “Spades,” and “Anything But Fine.” The songs are phenomenally constructed, sporting clever lyricism (“You said that words could only get you so far / But I’ve got sentences to cover up all my scars”) and intelligent musicianship. What is astounding about ZOX as a band is that they are simply a whole band. Each member shines in their own particular way, whether it be Spencer Swain’s catchy viola riffs in “Can’t Look Down” (embedded below… try to not get it stuck in your head, I dare you) or John Zox’s simply undeniable drum grooves on tracks like “Big Fish”.

I will leave you with this: ZOX is a very tight band. It’s simply four musicians who know how to write great songs. If you want to up your indie hipster cred (sample conversation: “Have you ever heard of ZOX? No? I didn’t think so. They’re pretty obscure…”) and find some music that is in no way shitty, but is in all ways awesome, I would suggest listening to The Wait.

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