After the Arab on Radar prank, Oxes released its second full-length album, Oxxxes, amid a flurry of further trickery. In this case, the band stirred up a swirl of "controversy" concerning the album's cover. According to the buzz, the original artwork, which featured a scantily clad indie chick pleasuring naked Oxes, attracted a storm of protest, prompting the label to scrounge up new art. The cover now depicts a crowd of demonstrators with picket signs that sport phrases such as "Equal Rights Does Not Include Nudity." The photo was staged, as was the controversy.
It's a good thing Oxes is so successful at creating publicity, because if everyone just focused on the band's skill, there would be little to say. Oxes makes music frequently dubbed math rock or instrumental noise, but in reality, the product more closely resembles mediocre heavy metal minus the lyrics.
Unlike the instrumentals offered by surf-rock or acoustic-guitar bands, in which a lead guitarist handles melody, Oxes' music is almost entirely lacking melodies -- guitar, vocal or otherwise. Built on drums and dueling guitars, Oxxxes sounds more like a bunch of riff collages than an actual album.
Arab on Radar adds a vocal track to its grating rock, but like Oxes, it wriggles out of most melodic responsibilities. The vocals consist of monotone whines spitting out juvenile verses about ejaculation: Yahweh or the Highway opens with the heart-tugging line Sometimes I just gotta jerk off. On top of the lyrics, Arab on Radar features rudimentary drumming and high-pitched, screechy guitars that bore unpleasantly into the brain like a frontal lobotomy.
Fortunately, Arab on Radar has some tactics of its own to draw attention away from the low-quality songs. The lyrics aim for buzz, and the pun-laden song titles -- gems like "Semen on the Mount" and "Father, Son, and the Goalie Post" -- further distract from the music. But if Arab on Radar craves success, perhaps it should board the same buzz train as Oxes. If both bands can create enough spectacle, perhaps no one will realize how much talent they lack.