Oax
Gig Seeker Pro

Oax

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE

Houston, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Americana

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

This band hasn't logged any past gigs

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos

Music

Press


Giorgio Angelini returned to Houston in the fall of 2009 after many years away living in New York and touring with Bishop Allen and The Rosebuds. A performance with Bishop Allen in Barcelona in April of 2008 had been his last, and thus began a three-year hiatus from which he has only now emerged – with Oax.

The idea of the EP has really shifted in the last handful of years, as we’re seeing more and more of what was previously a rare format in respect to singles and full-lengths. Why did you choose to start off Oax with an EP?

The short answer is time and money. I had to record this record during my winter break from architecture school (I’m currently at Rice). Secondly, it’s just most expensive to record and produce more music, unfortunately. So I was limited there. But I think EPs are great. Especially these days. I think people’s attention spans today are such that the EP is a perfect length of time you can have someone listen to a body of music from start to finish without skipping tracks. “This Distance” is just around 20 minutes. Which puts it in the same length of time as a typical sitcom (remember when 30-minute sitcoms were actually 30 minutes long?). I didn’t make a conscious effort to make it that long. But certainly, it makes me sad to think that a band can spend so much of their time and money making a masterful full-length record, only to have people pick it apart on iTunes, song-by-song. Then again, I don’t think that just because a CD can hold 90 minutes of music doesn’t mean you need to fill it up to the teats with music. I think, ultimately, for the times we’re in, the EP is just a really good vehicle. It’s short, cheap and sweet.

You returned to Houston as a sort of hiatus from music; did these songs sort of sneak up on you? (Meaning did they sort of materialize when you weren’t really intending to be writing?)

Sort of, yeah. It all started during the World Cup last summer. I was having a marathon session watching games. Then, during a break, this documentary of Joe Strummer came on TV. Something clicked and I just started writing again. I’m not sure I can say I’m ever not ‘intending to be writing,’ but I’ve never written as much music as I have in the past year. There’s always a guitar near by. Both at home and at school. So, I guess I’m always prepared…or something like that.

For a body of work that is admittedly post-breakup, none of the songs at all mope or drag around – was that a part of the catharsis, to just vent with energy?

Every time I hear a mopey (some might call it ‘emo’) song about a breakup it just ends up annoying me. It’s a really adolescent way to look at a breakup. Not to mention, it’s sort of intolerable to listen to – and ultimately boring. Relationships are strange, to say the least. I think, for the sake of wanting the record to sound honest, I wanted to write about it from the view of a third party. There’s never one person at fault. So the idea of just wearing your emotions on your sleeve and playing the victim didn’t sound fun to me. Plus, there are plenty of other fine bands out there who do that. We don’t need any more. (Full disclosure: I used to listen to an unhealthy amount of The Cure and Elliott Smith in my formative years. So I’m definitely not against listening to dudes whining about being wronged. It’s just not the way I like to write.)

What was it that made you choose Ivan Howard to come down and work on things with you?

I played in The Rosebuds for a few years. Ivan is a close friend of mine. And we had been talking about recording something together for a long time. He was in between a Gayngs tour and finishing his Rosebuds record, so it worked out well. He’s a pretty amazing guy. And one of the most underrated singers out there. We had a great time recording here in Houston. He’s a big fan of the city now.

Were the songs recorded before you started school or did the discipline of school bring you back into the studio?

Definitely. Studying architecture has made a big impact on my work ethic – specifically my creative work ethic. A lot of people (myself included), legitimize months of creative inactivity as “writer’s block.” But what architecture school teaches is essentially how to apply method to creativity. And the only time inspiration is ever going to come is if you’re actually there, working at it. So, yeah, the recording started happening after I went back to school. Honestly, I would encourage anyone who is in any creative field to study architecture. It puts your brain in a blender and then reorganizes it. It’s kind of unreal, actually.
- Houston Magazine


Giorgio Angelini returned to Houston in the fall of 2009 after many years away living in New York and touring with Bishop Allen and The Rosebuds. A performance with Bishop Allen in Barcelona in April of 2008 had been his last, and thus began a three-year hiatus from which he has only now emerged – with Oax.

The idea of the EP has really shifted in the last handful of years, as we’re seeing more and more of what was previously a rare format in respect to singles and full-lengths. Why did you choose to start off Oax with an EP?

The short answer is time and money. I had to record this record during my winter break from architecture school (I’m currently at Rice). Secondly, it’s just most expensive to record and produce more music, unfortunately. So I was limited there. But I think EPs are great. Especially these days. I think people’s attention spans today are such that the EP is a perfect length of time you can have someone listen to a body of music from start to finish without skipping tracks. “This Distance” is just around 20 minutes. Which puts it in the same length of time as a typical sitcom (remember when 30-minute sitcoms were actually 30 minutes long?). I didn’t make a conscious effort to make it that long. But certainly, it makes me sad to think that a band can spend so much of their time and money making a masterful full-length record, only to have people pick it apart on iTunes, song-by-song. Then again, I don’t think that just because a CD can hold 90 minutes of music doesn’t mean you need to fill it up to the teats with music. I think, ultimately, for the times we’re in, the EP is just a really good vehicle. It’s short, cheap and sweet.

You returned to Houston as a sort of hiatus from music; did these songs sort of sneak up on you? (Meaning did they sort of materialize when you weren’t really intending to be writing?)

Sort of, yeah. It all started during the World Cup last summer. I was having a marathon session watching games. Then, during a break, this documentary of Joe Strummer came on TV. Something clicked and I just started writing again. I’m not sure I can say I’m ever not ‘intending to be writing,’ but I’ve never written as much music as I have in the past year. There’s always a guitar near by. Both at home and at school. So, I guess I’m always prepared…or something like that.

For a body of work that is admittedly post-breakup, none of the songs at all mope or drag around – was that a part of the catharsis, to just vent with energy?

Every time I hear a mopey (some might call it ‘emo’) song about a breakup it just ends up annoying me. It’s a really adolescent way to look at a breakup. Not to mention, it’s sort of intolerable to listen to – and ultimately boring. Relationships are strange, to say the least. I think, for the sake of wanting the record to sound honest, I wanted to write about it from the view of a third party. There’s never one person at fault. So the idea of just wearing your emotions on your sleeve and playing the victim didn’t sound fun to me. Plus, there are plenty of other fine bands out there who do that. We don’t need any more. (Full disclosure: I used to listen to an unhealthy amount of The Cure and Elliott Smith in my formative years. So I’m definitely not against listening to dudes whining about being wronged. It’s just not the way I like to write.)

What was it that made you choose Ivan Howard to come down and work on things with you?

I played in The Rosebuds for a few years. Ivan is a close friend of mine. And we had been talking about recording something together for a long time. He was in between a Gayngs tour and finishing his Rosebuds record, so it worked out well. He’s a pretty amazing guy. And one of the most underrated singers out there. We had a great time recording here in Houston. He’s a big fan of the city now.

Were the songs recorded before you started school or did the discipline of school bring you back into the studio?

Definitely. Studying architecture has made a big impact on my work ethic – specifically my creative work ethic. A lot of people (myself included), legitimize months of creative inactivity as “writer’s block.” But what architecture school teaches is essentially how to apply method to creativity. And the only time inspiration is ever going to come is if you’re actually there, working at it. So, yeah, the recording started happening after I went back to school. Honestly, I would encourage anyone who is in any creative field to study architecture. It puts your brain in a blender and then reorganizes it. It’s kind of unreal, actually.
- Houston Magazine


Just moments after a phone conversation with Giorgio Angelini, during which we discussed Houston, happy accidents, love and This Distance, Angelini’s newest collection of songs released under the moniker Oax, he sends an email.

“On second thought, if there’s one thing I want people to know about the EP, it’s that it’s not a break-up record — it’s a relationship record,” the email reads. “Break-up suggests finality. I think what the record is trying to suggest is a hopefulness for the future — albeit, a bittersweet hopefulness.”

After years of playing in band after band — including Bishop Allen, the Rosebuds and 1986 — Angelini ended a three-year hiatus from music with the EP. Written last summer and recorded in January, it contains five songs of driving indie rock centered around a relationship — yes, that includes the breakup, but “it’s also the moment that leads up to that,” Angelini says.

“It’s no secret that long-distance relationships suck,” he says, hence the title of the EP. The relationship in question spanned four years. “It had always been a long-distance relationship, curiously enough,” he says. It finally dissolved after Giorgio returned to Houston to finish his masters degree in architecture at Rice University.

“Being in graduate school, I think that really killed it,” he relates. “Just not having any time, being in school all day — picking up the phone just added to the stress. It’s hard to be thoughtful on the phone after being in school for 15 hours straight.” Angelini is quick to add that even though the relationship is over, he and the girl are still close and remain friends.

A self-professed “inner-loop Houstonian who grew up on the River Oaks/Montrose border,” Angelini’s return follows a 10-year absence. The homecoming has been a good experience thus far; graduate school keeps him busy, but he’s been able to reconnect with the city. “It’s tough being from Houston — you go out on a tour, meeting other people, and it’s a really easy city to make fun of, and I always found myself defending it,” he says.

“There’s something kind of honest about Houston,” he continues, “and I feel really excited about what’s happening here. There are a lot of great musicians that I did not know about. I just saw Kelly Doyle Trio last night, which was un(expletive)believable. It’s like psych-country, very inspiring; I hope to see more stuff like that.”

Angelini says he made the bulk of the record in an empty space in his mother’s office. “I think this record definitely couldn’t have been made without having moved back home,” he says. “I’d been touring for a long time, collecting gear, and I never really had anywhere to set it up. When I came back here, I set it all up and started recording.

“In the past, in other bands, we always had a producer, but I think it was really important for me to do this all on my own — so I engineered it and played all of it, except the drums.” Ivan Howard, Angelini’s bandmate in the Rosebuds, came down from New York to help with the recording.

Angelini credits watching The Future Is Unwritten, a Joe Strummer documentary, last summer with starting the writing process. “It just triggered something,” he says. “I started writing like crazy — the song Pretty Good Start was written pretty much in its entirety while watching that documentary.”

Sutures, the closing track of the EP, features a couple notable guest appearances. It’s the only song he didn’t record with his own setup, tracked during a mixing session at Spoon drummer Jim Eno’s studio, and boasting vocals from Chris Simpson of emo heavyweights Mineral. “I had a demo of it that I’d recorded with laryngitis, and it sounded really cool,” Angelini explains, “when I went to actually sing it with a healthy voice, it sounded terrible. I’d spent all day recording the music for it, and then I couldn’t sing it. I called Chris; he happened to be around and available, and just drunk enough to make it sound believable.”

Eno walked in at the end of recording and asked if he could play drums on the track. “It was a series of ridiculous accidents that turned out really nice,” Angelini says. “I felt really lucky to have cool friends.”

Oax will make its live Houston debut on Saturday opening for the Rosebuds at Fitzgerald’s. The group will also open for Peter Bjorn & John at Warehouse Live on Sept. 27. Currently, Angelini borrows the rhythm section of Austin’s Heartless Bastards to fill out the live set, and previous shows have met with good response. He also hopes to record a full-length album during his winter break. “I have enough material for it, but I wanted to do an EP to kind of test the waters,” he says.

“I’m a pretty hyperactive person. An EP seems to be a really great time length, and (when you’re) introducing yourself to a new audience, it’s a great calling card.

“When I started playing with Bishop Allen ... they were putting out an EP a month for all of 2006, which is insanity,” he says. “It meant that we had to write and record in two weeks, then get it pressed the next week, and have it shipped out — and to do that 12 times over!

“It was really instructive to me as far as work ethic and music. People sometimes confuse being creative with being lazy — that you can afford to be lazy. But it really is a job, and you have to hone it and get better at it as you go.”
- Houston Chronicle


On his first solo EP after a heavy schedule with Bishop Allen and The Rosebuds, Giorgio Angelini as Oax presents to us This Distance. It’s your typical man and guitar talking about his feelings record, but is much better than that actually sounds.

‘Pretty Good Start’ the first track is basically that, a pretty good start. With bluesy riffs and a repetitive chorus, Oax introduces us to his style with a fairly generic, but nonetheless decent song. The guitar here is very 90’s and the song (discounting its lyrics) actually sounds like a country guy covering Oasis!

'Love and Crashing’ gets straight down to business though with a much more subdued sound that relies on confidence in your own song-writing abilities and, luckily for Angelini his composition is never a let-down. This track tackles the main issue of this EP, as indicated by the title, distance: “I said I love you dear, but I cannot stay, these steps they lead to passing, to love and crashing.”



Written after a break-up and after losing his writing partner to Okkervil River this is a back to basics record with an all-natural sound. This natural sound is the sound of Texas as seen through the eyes of a Texan and not just any Texan; Giorgio Angelini was part of the team that scored Red Dead Redemption. He has also worked with the likes of Justin Vernon, that’s Bon Iver to you and me, and played bass in Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. A formidable individual then, surely to get more notice for his solo efforts after this release.

His vocals are superb with the timbre of his voice reminiscent of somebody you can’t quite place; it’s familiar and refreshing at the same time. This Distance is full of textures that gently caress your ears. His guitar is deep and resonant, filtered through a pipe of distorted smoke while the tinny drums and heavy cymbal used connect all the parts together.

‘Sutures,’ the final track of the five stands out for being different and that would be because Angelini doesn’t sing it, instead he calls upon musical friend Chris Simpson, of Mineral and The Gloria Records, who has a much higher voice. Lyrically it’s one of the most profound on the record: “Sharing customary tones, walking through the catacombs, when it bites these bones now we’re talking through the door, if we could make it just back home.” Inadvertently recorded in the wrong key it sounds weird and yet is so out there that it works. It’s awkward and jangly in all the right ways.

A great introduction to the authenticity of an artist writing what he knows. I look forward to seeing what Oax can bring to a full length release. - Alt Sounds


Oax is so good I feel compelled to use a pretty crappy pun to draw your attention to this blog post. In fact his debut EP This Distance is so good, I’m going to break my usual ‘no reviews online’ rule and post the following, my entry for EP of Issue 18, in the hope that someone out there will pay attention to what is probably the greatest EP this side of Christmas.

“The first few chords of Oax’s debut release are disconcerting. Singer-songwriter Georgio Angelini is credible up to his eyeballs; he’s performed in Bishop Allen and The Rosebuds, and worked with various members of Spoon, Okkervil River, Bon Ivor and The Gloria Record. But the first ten seconds of “Pretty Good Start” launches itself at stadium rock like Oasis after one snort of lighter fluid too many. Thankfully Angelini’s rasped growl immediately bulldozes over the aspirations of a thousand Madchester fans, and This Distance starts to make some headway.

By the end of the five-track release you’ll be in a similar state of shock as the Grecian referee who witnessed Usain Bolt hurtling down the tracks at the 2009 Olympics. Lead song “Love and Crashing” prances up to its audience and plays a game of boo-who’s-there, before it grabs the nearest person by the shoulders and lets out a ghastly wail. If “Love and Crashing” is the Ryan Adams track of This Distance, then “Scoundrel” is a square up homage to Weezer, complete with a killer riff and suitably unreserved chorus. Elsewhere “Liar, Cheat, Jerk” cloaks itself in a purple haze and pretends it’s in a slow motion recap of Woodstock, and “Sutures” – sung by Chris Simpson – is a refreshing blast of sonic (and alto) infusion.

In this review I’ve referenced an Olympic champion, two acts that had their heyday over ten years ago, a British movement firmly stuck in the 1990s and a succession of past collaborations. Really that doesn’t do Oax justice enough. Angelini’s more than anything before him, and This Distance is the kind of release that leaves a hoarse croak in the back of your head because of over exposure to fist raising, eye rolling, hysterical, unbelievable greatness. Well deserved of EP of the issue.”

I also interviewed Georgio Angelini for Issue 18, which is available to purchase today! Over here!

Download “Liar Cheat Jerk” here. - Drunken Werewolf


Giorgio Angelini has spent what seems like a lifetime looking for the right home. He played bass for The Rosebuds. He played bass for Bishop Allen. And then he fronted the two-piece band 1986 with longtime bandmate Cully Symington (Okkervil River).

His band 1986 had real promise, producing two albums. The second album especially, Everybody Is Whatever, never got the attention it deserved. Maybe Okkervil River knew it too, which is why they added Symington to the roster. (That and 1986 had some shakeups.)

No matter. Being left without a bandmate didn't detour Angelini. In less than a year, he moved on to another indie project; this time alone under the band name Oax. The release is an EP, which Angelini is hoping sells just enough to fund an album.

The Distance by Oax showcases Giorgio Angelini's relentless talent.

All of it is turning out to be a good thing. Angelini has only gotten better as a singer/songwriter without sacrificing any of his ability to drop in some power chords when he feels it works. Sometimes it works. And sometimes it isn't needed.

As an independent outing, The Distance is ripe with diversity. It's a richly layered semi-confessional that he even describes as "like reading a children's book written by Charles Bukowski." While I'm not sure the analogy holds up to scrutiny, it hardly matters. It's easily one of the best debuts this year.

All five tracks from the new EP are worth the download.

Pretty Good Start kicks off the album with a folksy opening before Angelini introduces easygoing vocals, perhaps reflecting on his initial decision to take a break from music and go back to graduate school. Obviously, he did more than study over the last several months. He hit his home studio and began producing an EP with the help of Ivan Rosebud (The Rosebuds).

Just don't mistake Pretty Good Start as indicative of the overall sound. Angelini changes things up on every track and even these five songs don't reveal everything. The only way to know is to catch him live because there isn't much on Oax as a new band. Still, we did find one live performance clip from the Granada Theater in Dallas. This one isn't even on the album.



Aside from Pretty Good Start, its polar opposite — Liar, Cheat, Jerk — provides a much more raw and indie rock sound, cut up with lyrics of inflexibility. Scoundrel carries the edgy sentiment forward, where Love and Crashing is much more reflective.

The added fifth track proves that although Angelini is certainly onto something as a solo band, he doesn't have to go it alone. In addition to Rosebud, he did an amazing job tapping his ties to Austin. Sutures includes Chris Simpson (Mineral) and Jim Eno (Spoons), providing the perfect closer to a near-perfect debut from this big Houston-based talent.

The Distance By Oax Goes Further Than Expected At 8.9 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

Unless something comes up, Oax will be the best possible playground for Angelini. He hears everything differently, creating a sound that isn't always noticed but is certainly a cut above. Much like what was said about 1986, all Oax needs is the few hundred people who bought the album to tell at least ten friends. We've got our friends covered. How about you?

Pick up The Distance by Oax from iTunes. The Distance is also available at Amazon, where you can find the CD. And keep your ears open for more performances in Texas.
- liquid [Hip]


When a band like Oax comes into your life, you need to mark the date on your calendar. This Distance, the debut effort from Houston’s Giorgio Angelini, is hands down the best record I’ve heard from a new band this year. Angelini himself is no newcomer to the indie-rock scene; he’s toured with The Rosebuds and Bishop Allen for the last several years. Additionally, he helped score the video game “Red Dead Redemption.” Not too bad for a guy finishing his masters degree in architecture. If his architecture skills are half what his songwriting skills are, we’re going to be living in a truly beautiful world.

Oax sounds like what you might imagine a rootsy, more Americana incarnation of Dinosaur Jr. would sound like. Replace J. Mascis’s blistering guitar solos with pumped up sing-a-long melodies and you should get a good idea of what This Distance holds. “Pretty Good Start” is so much more than its name implies; this song should be held up as an example of how to open an album. Oax doesn’t just get off to a pretty good start, they kick it off the cliff within the first few bars of the song. This song, like the whole EP, is engaging and engrossing from start to finish. Each successive song mixes a little rock with what can only be described as the sound of Texas. The track “Scoundrel” is a no-holds-barred, soaring rocker that is the highpoint of the EP. The closing track, “Sutures,” enlists the vocals of Mineral’s Chris Simpson and Spoon’s Jim Eno on drums. The results are, as expected, excellent.

Records like This Distance are what make being an obsessive music fan so much fun. Oax give us a completely solid collection of sing-a-long anthems that demand daily listening. Do yourself a favor and don’t put this off. Order the CD, get your iTunes warmed up…whatever you need to do, just hear this record. - Knoxroad.com


Discography

'This Distance' EP - July 2011

Photos

Bio

It was time to come back home. After four years of heavy touring schedules with Bishop Allen and The Rosebuds, it was time to leave New York and head back South to his home of Houston, TX. Not the hippest city in the country, but that was sort of the point. What started as a open-ended hiatus from music and a venture into graduate school in architecture at Rice University, it didn't take too long before Giorgio Angelini started writing music again. Oh, and there was a break-up, of course. What record worth it's weight in wax hasn't been seeded by a good ol' fashioned heart ripping? Distance is, indeed, a killer.

Oax is the result. The name coming from the seemingly endless canopy of live oak trees that covers Houston like a carpet. Not native to Houston, the trees were planted by early settlers as a way to provide shelter from the punishing Texas sun. And lucky enough, they managed to thrive like weeds in the swampy bayou soup of Houston soil.

Angelini took his shelter in his home studio.

In addition to a punishing break-up, Angelini also lost his long-time musical collaborator, Cully Symington, to Okkervil River. In many ways, feeling backed into a corner and very much alone, the thought of recording alone, at home, was not a prospect Angelini was willing to undertake. In need of some companionship and collaboration, Giorgio called on Ivan Howard of the Rosebuds/Gayngs to come down to Houston and help record his one-man opus. Howard obliged.

This Distance EP is both an airing of grievances and a testifying of sins. Playing all the instruments himself (save for 'Sutures'), Angelini used this recording as a release--musically and emotionally.

'Sutures,' the EP closer, was written by Angelini and sung by Chris Simpson, of Mineral and The Gloria Record. Inadvertently recorded in the wrong key, the mistake became a happy accident. As the key was too high for Giorgio to sing, Chris stepped in to help a friend in need. Originally intended to be a simple track comprised of voice and strings, during mixing at Public Hi-Fi, Jim Eno (studio owner) stepped in the room to survey the progress. After a few passes, Jim suddenly stood up from the couch as asked if he could play drums. A strange request in the middle of mixing a song, but how do you say no to the drummer from Spoon? Mics were quickly set up and what resulted was something that can only come from spur-of-the-moment occasions such as this one.

Angelini is still in graduate school and has about a year left before he becomes a 'master of architecture.' In the meantime, he's headed back to New York for the summer where he'll be performing with a new group of musicians including Ben Trokan and Morgan King of Robbers on High Street.