As moody as a recovering addict and as electrifying as a fork in a socket, XrayOK breathes new life into electronic music.
A long journey has been XrayOK’s evolution. It began with TJ Hill writing music in his New York apartment, then hooking up with Montreal’s Ally Smith. They decided, after going broke, that they needed to move to the hot, desolate city known as Phoenix. There they met brothers Jack and Chuckie Duff. During recording their first album, Reflex, Chuckie left the band. The trio then found another bass player, Michael Hartman and recorded an EP, Like Life, which charted well on college and alternative radio stations. During this time, playing with acts such as She Wants Revenge, Death From Above 1979, The Lovemakers, and Rock Kills Kid, the band turned heads and almost broke necks.
With enough heat to make Satan sweat, XrayOK could not bear another summer in Phoenix and decided to say goodbye. Hill summed it up the best – “As a pale redhead, I thought another summer in Phoenix would kill me. The sun would burn me alive.” So, in early 2006, the band decided to move to Los Angeles, but Hartman, after much debate, remained in Arizona and burned alive. XrayOK, now Hill, Duff and Smith, decided to remain bassist-less, which enabled the trio to begin making use of sequencing and electronics, opening up an array of sonic possibilities. Since their move, XrayOK has been playing premier Los Angeles clubs, such as Safari Sam’s, Spaceland, Knitting Factory, and Club Moscow. A few months after their fall 2006 tour, XrayOK signed to Cordless Recordings (Warner Music Group).
XrayOK has since parted ways with Cordless and have recently finished their new full length, due out early next year, and planning a tour to support the release.
TJ Hill- electric & acoustic guitar, lead vocals
Ally Smith- Keyboards, laptop and samples
Jack Duff- Drums, Keys
XrayOK's new album, Into the Sun or Into the Sea is due out early next year.
Like Life, XrayOK's 2nd release, an EP, charted on the CMJ charts and was on over 35 top 30 College Radio Charts (as of 3/23/06). In the spring of 2005, XrayOK's debut release, reflex, aired on over 150 college radio stations in the U.S. and Canada, and debuted at #158 on the CMJ charts. In February 2005 Reflex charted on the CMJ top 200 charts for 3 consectuive weeks. Selected for the Western Tread Records(Jim Adkins from Jimmy Eat World's label) compilation CD, due out in 2005. "Smile" was selected for UNCLE's 2006 SXSW sampler.
tlchicken.com Like Life Review
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XRAYOK - LIKE LIFE (Self-Released) A beautiful, lush, foot-tapping accomplishment of an album. M...XRAYOK - LIKE LIFE (Self-Released)
A beautiful, lush, foot-tapping accomplishment of an album. Modern new wave with touches of Radiohead, Elbow, and Mogwai, Xrayok (pronounced "X-ray-okay") have put out one of the best albums so far this year.
THE GRADE: A+
- Night Watchman
Phoenix New Times: Like Life Review
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xrayok Like Life (self-released) By CASEY LYNCH Article Published Feb 16, 2006 Be careful where...xrayok
By CASEY LYNCH
Article Published Feb 16, 2006
Be careful where you listen to the new self-released xrayok EP Like Life -- you're likely to find your pulse quicken and your body move without permission to the throbbing, '80s-informed dance-rock sound. With atmospheric vocals and haunting keyboard lines, xrayok mixes enough New Wave appeal to tempt you to buy a pack of cloves, but delivers it with the kind of modern urgency Chris Martin only wishes he could muster up on the last Coldplay record. Sing-along choruses, hooky piano lines and sparkling Bob Hoag production make a potent antidote for anyone who's overdosed on Franz Ferdinand and The Bravery in search of what is hip. From opener "The Luster," beckoning with a yearning dance groove, to "Sunshine," the final track, winding down into a contemplative confidence, Like Life sounds like a night of hungry kisses that bleed into the dawn of a satisfied morning after.
Forty-Niner Article: Like Life Review
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By Angela O’Brien Online Forty-Niner Contributing Writer Upon the first listen of Xrayok’s No...By Angela O’Brien
Upon the first listen of Xrayok’s November self-released sophomore album “Like Life,” this reporter immediately closed her eyes and let the music take her to an untarnished utopian land, populated by the bare trees pictured on their album cover. The foursome can almost be described as the brainy lovechild of rock inspirations like Radiohead and Muse.
It is hard to believe Xrayok hails from a state just next door, Arizona, and not from across the pond like their Brit-rock influenced sound leads the listener to believe. The band describes themselves as “a lush blend of dark New Wave, Rock and Electro that fuses Brit-rock style with spaced out keyboards.”
It is noticeable to the listener where Xrayok drew inspiration from; bands such as Muse, Sigur Ros, Coldplay, Radiohead and Smashing Pumpkins immediately come to mind. However, the indie rock outfit knows precisely how to make a prevalent style of its own. The band has managed to draw elements from each of these bands, mixing and matching its own personalized experimental approach.
Xrayok infuses rhythmic, up-tempo melodies with their indie rock ‘n’ roll sound getting its listeners to dance with the music. Each track is executed sublimely with every hook and intricate melody in the six-song EP. They are hardly a band who relies on synthesizers, like most contemporary dance-rock bands. The quartet brings just as much reverberating guitars to its music as it does with its hazy keyboards, making a blissful experience for any listener.
The EP starts out perfectly with “The Luster.” It is a three-minute masterpiece in which lead vocalist and songwriter TJ Hill and band molded to get in the listeners ears and mind with dark resonance. As the listener enters the song, Hill sends all his emotions jabbing through the air for the verses and then brings them back down with slow, sensual moaning throughout the chorus. The listener is sent through the same whirlwind of emotions feeling Hill’s sting.
The only downsides to the album are the lack of completion in the lyrics. Like clockwork, the chorus of each track is one line sang over and over again.
In the third track, “Fall of Your Eyelash,” Hill croons again and again as the chorus, “Would you believe in love, would you believe in love? Let it fall away.” Nevertheless, it is refreshing to hear a simple, yet striking line repeated rather than having to listen to a singer attempt to come up with different ways to say the same thing.
Though the lines are repetitive, Hill’s mysterious vocals make the listener release all inhibitions and relax to the constant, steady realms of the haunting music.
Their word reiteration occurs yet again a couple songs later with the tracks “Doesn’t Matter” and “Sunshine.” Even so, they are flawlessly captivating without being terribly overbearing.
Xrayok spent the end of 2005 on the road with the Lovemakers, She Wants Revenge and Rock Kills Kid. It currently has dates lined up for a few album release shows in its hometown of Tempe, Ariz.
Pop Matters: Like Life Review
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Xrayok, Like Life (self-released) Published 4/25/06 - Rating: 7 It's amazing, the development that...Xrayok, Like Life (self-released) Published 4/25/06 - Rating: 7
It's amazing, the development that's evidently happened between the release of Xrayok's debut album, the clunky, overreaching Reflex, and their new EP, Like Life. Like Life is one of those CDs that you just know you're going to enjoy by its cover art, a sparse, whitewashed sky punctuated by the spindly fingers of the trees below. The music within matches that visual perfectly, as Xrayok's touch has become lighter and more contemporary via the use of those quick, new wave beats that the kids love so much these days. The keyboards are better integrated, the basslines are suitably heavy, and lead vocalist TJ Hill is establishing an honest-to-God identity with his Thom Yorke of Pablo Honey and The Bends singing old Cure songs style. The only mark against Like Life is the inability of any of its songs to truly separate themselves from the rest, though the creative synthwork (courtesy of Allison Smith, the unsung hero of the disc) and fairly catchy chorus of "Smile" and the small explosions that drive "Sunshine" are fairly noteworthy. Like Life is what happens when a band finds a sound that works -- with any luck, the next album will be the sound of that same band stretching that signature sound to its limit.
— Mike Schiller
multiple songs: [MySpace]
multiple songs: [PureVolume]
Playbackstl.com : Like Life Review
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X Ray OK: Like Life (Self-released) X Ray OK, a four-piece from Arizona, is far better than OK. The...X Ray OK: Like Life (Self-released)
X Ray OK, a four-piece from Arizona, is far better than OK. They have taken a new-wave sound made popular in the early 80's and done a great job of updating it for 2005. The keyboard sound in particular, when mixed with the guitars, is really distinct, providing an approach to modern pop they can really call their own. Singer/Guitarist T.J. Hill sounds great throughout the six-track CD and sings with plenty of heart and confidence. While all the songs are enjoyable, "The Luster" clearly stands out. It's impossible not to be drawn into the song's great melody and danceable beats;the track is perfect for the late-night Goth clubs that like to crank out good synth bands through their speakers. www.xrayok.com / John Kujawski /
The BadgerHerald: Like Life Review
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BRITISH-INSPIRED BAND CLEARLY ROCKS by Alec Luhn Monday, February 20, 2006 Though they rock fro...BRITISH-INSPIRED BAND CLEARLY ROCKS
by Alec Luhn
Monday, February 20, 2006
Though they rock from the American southwest, Arizona-based indie group Xrayok (“X-ray okay”) take both their name and their sound from across the pond.
Xrayok has absorbed a lot from the U.K., most notably an uncompromising, jangly mix of melodies that sounds like the bastard child of Radiohead and Bloc Party. The name comes from a stamp vocalist/guitarist T.J. Hill found on his luggage at Heathrow Airport after his bags had successfully passed through security.
But the band of four is more than just a bunch of Brit-rock wannabes; in their mixing and matching of influences, they’ve hit on something good.
Every one of the six songs on the band’s Like Life EP is worth at least a few listens. The group’s sound is catchy enough to be danceable but complicated enough to challenge your ear. In other words: catchy like Bloc Party, complicated like Radiohead.
Indeed, Hill’s piercing tenor sounds eerily similar to Radiohead singer Thom Yorke’s. He uses it in much the same way Yorke does, soaring obliviously over the tight groove of the rest of the band.
It’s impressive, considering that Hill carries all the guitar duties for Xrayok. Furthermore, his voice is incredibly well developed for a relatively new band, rarely ever straining to hit any of the vocal melodies.
Sometimes the band sounds too much like Radiohead, though. The guitar intro to the final track, “Sunshine,” sounds like it’s stolen directly from Ok Computer. The similarity doesn’t disappear when the rest of the band comes in, either.
One notable difference is that Xrayok is more dance-rock than Radiohead would ever allow themselves to be and aren’t afraid to show it. The catchy beat and heavy keyboards on “Smile” start off sounding like an ‘80s dance party, but the sound quickly returns to the present when Hill joins in with the vocal line.
The keyboards and samples provided by Hill’s girlfriend Ally Smith compliment his guitar and vocals perfectly. Drummer Jack Duff and bassist Michael Hartman know how to propel a catchy groove as well, emulating everything from the unapologetic, perky beats of the B-52’s to Bloc Party’s haunting new-wave update.
The rhythm section comes up with some great, understated ideas, like the stick-tapping groove that gives “Fall Of Your EyeLash” its flavor, but it’s really the interplay between Hill and Smith that got the band off the ground.
The two founded Xrayok in 2000, following a long-distance relationship and moves to San Francisco and Long Island, NY. The band finally relocated to the unlikely locale of Temple, Ariz., and finalized the rest of the lineup.
You can tell that Xrayok has been brewing their sound for a while, although they’ve only released one full album: 2004’s Reflex. The playing and the production are absolutely professional.
The group knows how to use little production touches to make a big difference in their sound, and it shows on Like Life. For example, the moody rocker “Doesn’t Matter” almost fizzles out due to a lack of dynamics but rejuvenates itself three minutes in with a brief guitar breakdown.
The song is also a good example of how Hill’s lyrics can go wrong. For the most part, Hill manages to write decent lyrics, but lines like “Oh you are so very witty” sound too pretentious to fit in with Xrayok’s dramatic indie-rock sound.
When Hill gets it right, the lyrics are tailor-made for his voice and fit right into the song. The catchiest song on the EP, “Lonely Souls,” features the simple but effective refrain “I’m just a lonely soul, looking for my home.” Nothing too revolutionary, but it works.
That seems to be the mantra behind everything Like Life. It’s catchy enough to appeal to a broad variety of listeners but complicated enough to keep music aficionados interested.
Rating: 4 out of 5
NeuFutur: Like Life Review
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Xrayok – Like Life / 2006 Self / 6 Tracks / http://www.xrayok.com / Reviewed 05 March 2006 I really...Xrayok – Like Life / 2006 Self / 6 Tracks / http://www.xrayok.com / Reviewed 05 March 2006
I really don’t get why Xrayok was likened to Mogwai in the RIYL present; when the band begins their “Like Life”, there are more hints in tracks like “The Luster” to mid-eighties and early-nineties gothic rock than anything. This sound is not removed during songs like “Fall Of Your Eyelash”. In this track, Xrayok seem to have placed a disco-like bounciness in the drums, which splash through at all times. The atmosphere present on “Fall of Your Eyelash” rivals the entirety of the instrumentation, making for a full-sounding track that is sly while still ensnaring listeners.
Xrayok ties their very classic sound to something a little more current in the angular sound of the bass/guitar dynamic present in “Smile”. The quicker tempo of “Smile” make this into a sleeper dance track sound; the vocals haunt individuals even as the synth and drums thump at the low end of the track. “Lonely Souls” is a slower track, a re-interpretation of “Smile” that really makes “Smile” less of an outlier amongst the songs on this EP. By filling in this missing piece, Xrayok is then shown to have a range of different sounds and styles that should get a wider selection of individuals picking up their music. The band only goes on for twenty-five minutes on “Like Life”, but individuals will feel by the end of the album that they’ve been listening to the inner confessions of the act’s soul for hours and hours.
However simplistic tracks like “Doesn’t Matter” may sound on the surface, there is a complexity present on all of Xrayok’s tracks that will only open themselves up when individuals give the disc a few spins. A great deal of this density is created through the complex interactions that each member of the band has with the entirety of the rest of the band; “Doesn’t Matter” is a maze of influences, sounds, and styles that will ensnare individuals for a while to come. This is a powerful EP, one that does nto slack off towards its end. The fact that the album is about half the length of a full length gives me a good feeling that Xrayok should succeed when their full-length is released. Haunting, brilliant and fun, “Like Life” will be a great purchase for individuals of all stripes, regardless of their musical tastes. Xrayok burn their own trail through influences in the creation of something that is new and exciting.
Top Track: Sunshine
Midwest Record: Like Life Review
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XRAYOK/Like Life: There are those who like the dark and twisted sentiments of Belle & Sebastian but ...XRAYOK/Like Life: There are those who like the dark and twisted sentiments of Belle & Sebastian but wonder how they ever got and keep getting record deals. This set is for them. It tackles some of the same ground, but from a Goth. lite/Brit electroc vantage point. Like a later day Lou Reed experimenting with today's designer drugs, this crew will hit just the right chord with today's discontented college kid that wants to wear his alienation like a neon sign. For a bunch of kids from Arizona, they've got the Brit thing down nicely.
Delusions of Adequacy: Like Life Review
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You know all those girls with their hair dyed jet black and their hip-hugger jeans crowned with a wh...You know all those girls with their hair dyed jet black and their hip-hugger jeans crowned with a white belt that clearly isn’t serving to hold them up? The ones that listen to only dance pop, get bored if a song flirts with a fourth minute, and, despite their endless love for a solid beat, are the ones who can never seem to actually dance to it at the concert? Those girls would love xrayok. In fact, it probably won’t be long before xrayok has thousands of such girls immolating themselves on all the hooks the band fills its songs with, and probably a few thousand more guys who find impalement a reasonable price to pay to get closer to women. Even pronouncing the band's name is so catchy, each time you put the album on, you find yourself mumbling it under your breath a few times to try it out. I bet “hott boi” would be an apt description of most of the members (except the female member. She’s a “hott grrrl”), and during photo shoots, they don’t look at the camera but off into the distance, analyzing the backside of their corneas introspectively.
But xrayok has substance, more than a lot of bands that could be easily plugged into the paragraph above. These folks have substance, they have style, they have a remarkable ability to do just exactly what it is they set out to do, and with a level of refinement rarely seen in bands who are still self-releasing their albums. Even for those who aren’t into the whole new-wave moody pop sort of thing, it’s hard not to like xrayok, and that’s an incredible feat on the band's part.
The songs are greatly infused with a Brit-rock sass, and while vocalist/guitarist TJ Hill may occasionally stretch his vocal abilities (especially in the higher registers), at times he very nearly recalls Richard Ashcroft in his melodies. Bassist Michael Hartman is probably the strongest musical force in the band, his bass lines driving the songs along and infusing the listener with a sense of groove that occasionally makes it hard to sit still. Hill’s twinkling and occasionally urgent guitar work rests over all the funky rhythm, intertwining with Ally Smith’s keyboards, some of the most competent keyboard work I’ve heard in a pop band.
Though I’ve made the band sound like a bunch of happy-go-lucky metronomes only looking to shake their booties back and forth, it is important to note the pervasive dark tone that runs through Like Life. It has a moody, glam-rock sort of feel, but without being creepily androgynous and covered in mascara. Something about the ambience present is darkly comforting, like a hot breath on the nape of your neck in the cold of the night, only not so lame and probably deserving of a less straight-from-a-Wal-Mart-romance-novel comparison.
The EP length of Like Life is the perfect way to ingest xrayok, not because the band would be unbearable at any longer length, but because it stays around just long enough to leave an amazing first impression. As I’ve mentioned already, I’ve never been a fan of new-wave or any of its offshoots, but as far as I’m concerned, liking Like Life can’t be helped. If I had any sense of rhythm, I might get up and move around, but for now, I’ll let my unremitting foot tapping and head bobbing serve as an indication that xrayok is pretty damn ok.
Article: Choice Cuts: November 2004
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Adam McKibbin Writer, Entertainment Today Indie Music Editor, Suite 101 Artist: XRAYOK Alb...Adam McKibbin
Writer, Entertainment Today
Indie Music Editor, Suite 101
The Scoop: xrayok (no caps) is a band that has clearly paid attention to their Brit-rock staples. There are a bajillion bands, from the smallest local band to big draws like Keane and Muse, that use the influence of these same bands—culminating with the inevitable Radiohead reference—to usually forgettable ends. Phoenix’s xrayok, though, is able to channel this over-used lineage into more satisfying and memorable results. Their debut contains a number of songs that come pretty close to achieving that swing-for-the-fences sound that can propel a band into the big time. The right production team could probably set xrayok’s ambitious textures ablaze. In the meantime, they’re building a healthy local buzz and have landed a slot on a forthcoming compilation album on Western Tread. As for Radiohead, their influence here is circa The Bends, as on the Greenwoody guitar opening to “Novacaine,” and the dramatic inflections of frontman TJ Hill, who can take potentially hazardous lines like “I can’t help but feel I’m sinking” and not just sell them but really sell them. As with most debuts, there are some misses and near-misses, but Reflex catches fire around its middle.
Highlight Tracks: “Landslide” and “All The World Will Stop”
For More Info: Visit http://www.xrayok.com
All originals - Alone, Try Me, Lose Heart, Moon + Sun + Stars, Disasters, Say Goodbye to Lovers, Yeah Mmm
1 set, 30 minutes or longer set, 45 minutes
There are no upcoming dates at this time.