Xbxrx has broken up at least once, most likely broken a few bones, injured people at shows, possibly blinded others with their epilepsy-baiting flashing light displays and gotten themselves banned from every club in Mobile, Alabama. Or so the legends go. It’s not all that hard to believe, as rock `n’ roll is prone to outrageous displays of enacting on primal urges, the likes of which could result in injuries or blacklisting, perhaps even worse. But things may have changed since then. The band has since relocated from the South to the Bay Area, a decidedly more open-minded region for rebellious punks. And their outfits look a little snappier. To top that off, they’ve got a spiffy new label – Polyvinyl Records. As for the music? Well, let’s just say you should still bring extra padding, should you go to one of their shows.
Sixth in Sixes, the band’s long-awaited sophomore release, is a brutal record, one that mercilessly tramples on your poor little brain. Once this trio is done with you, you’ll have either a migraine, tinnitus or an ecstatic grin. Really, with music this unapologetic, the three seem to blur into an unsettling mish-mash of sensations and sounds that fall somewhere between euphoric and agonizing.
Maybe that’s the point. Xbxrx don’t seem to give a fuck. They’re going to rock you, regardless. Whether it’s the spastic, Blood Brothers-like hardcore on “Deaf Ears, Silent Voice,” the grooving Brainiac-like new wave of “Gold Cross” or the chaotic, stomping “Beat Rolls On,” Xbxrx is going to play it loud and fast, without any regard for your well being.
I could go on about how the album is supposedly about the decline of civilization and the theories attached, but really, I can’t understand the lyrics anyway, and chances are anyone else listening won’t either. In fact, I can’t even tell if the singer is a man or a woman. As far as I can tell, it’s an insect, perhaps a post-experiment Jeff Goldblum vomiting bile and vitriol. Furthermore, I can’t even figure out how to say their name. Each letter individually? X Box Rocks? Ex-berserks? It probably doesn’t matter. The experience is what really counts. And even on record, they’re pretty merciless. For those bold enough to brave the live brutality, you should be commended for putting yourself at risk for the sake of rock `n’ roll.
Arab on Radar – Yahweh or the Highway
Melt Banana – Scratch or Stitch
Blood Brothers – Burn Piano Island Burn
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.