Ox
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Ox

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"Touchingly organic... Like Wilco's early material or Whiskey Town before them, Ox's live set sounds at once both timeless and unmistakably of its era. If there was ever a need to strip music down to its raw elements, Ox have the purity and grace to pull it off. And that's easily enough to raise them high above the crowd. - Drowned In Sound


"With a voice broken, weary and elegant, Vancouver songman Ox (aka mark browning) plys a sensitive but scuffed, delicate but twisted variant on the cracked alt-country thing. On evidence of a forthcoming album, ‘Dust Bowl Revival’, he is a significant talent. The remarkable debut is a collection of sunshine'n'sorrow-soaked songs to swell the heart and chafe the soul."
Ross Fortune - Time Out (London)


Ox is of course Mark Browning and a few musical friends who – in various incarnations - have been dominating the College charts in Canada over the last few years. ‘Silent Night and other Cowboy Songs’ is perhaps the least ambitious Christmas album I’ve ever heard, but that is part of its considerable charm. Sounding like it was recorded around the hearth at 4 am after drunkenness has given way to sentimentality, Browning and company mix it up in three chord style by offering sloppily heartfelt versions of ‘Arthur McBride’ and ‘Christmas at the Jailhouse’ alongside rootsy versions of ‘Silent Night’, ‘It came upon a Midnight Clear’ and many others. This record sounds just like you’d sing ‘em yourself. Pleasant, enjoyable and delightfully free of fuss and distraction, you’ll probably like this one more than you should. - No Depression


On Silent Night & Other Cowboy Songs, Ox's singer/guitarist/band leader Mark Browning turns in a record that is sometimes sentimental and sometimes quirky, both of those approaches coming together in the best of ways. The album splits naturally into three parts, Browning leading the group through a series of languid, countrified versions of "White Christmas," "It's Christmas Time Again," "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and "Little Drummer Boy." The album then shifts slightly with the appearance of two Browning originals: the first, "Xmas in the Jailhouse," is a snare-driven ramble, fun in its lightweight approach, while the second, "Christmas With the Band," perfectly captures a holiday spent far from home. The record shifts again after a short interlude in the form of a kid-with-a-new-synth-on-Christmas-morning take of "Good King Wenceslas," as Browning steers towards a darker, less familiar direction for the final four tracks, avoiding any sort of schmaltzy aftertaste and adding up to a holiday gem. - Vue Weekly


OX American Lo Fi (Weewerk/Outside)
When Ox ascended to the top of Canada's campus chart in 2003, it was kind of like that girl from She's All That becoming prom queen. "She has glasses!" cried outraged naysayers. But we didn't listen and — like the dreamy Freddie Prinze Juniors we are — we embraced the group's unpolished alt.country. Three years later, Ox return with more infectiously untouched and unassuming odes to girls, El Caminos and other calendar-worthy beauties. Sounding like a cross between Neil Young, Jay Farrar and Damien Jurado, singer-songwriter Mark Browning pays homage to his forebears by covering Woody Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" and interpolating segments of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" on the charmingly unrefined "Martas Song." In the process, the frontman creates an enjoyably earnest and warm listen.
CCCC
James Simons

- Chart Magazine


"#1, Ox, 'Surrender' & 'Miss Idaho'. Unable to choose between these two songs from the Vancouver band's follow-up to the stunning Dust Bowl Revival, we finally gave up and picked both of them. The former is an unlikely, loping country remake of Cheap Trick's signature tune; the latter is a melancholy, Neil Young-ish original that's also reminiscent of the sound that Jay Farrar has refined both on his own and with Son Volt, Wilco, and Uncle Tupelo. "Miss Idaho" certainly holds its own with anything those two gentlemen have done in years."
John Sakamoto, Toronto Star
- Toronto Star


There's really no way I can talk about American Lo-Fi, the upcoming album from Ox, and not sound like I'm engaging in the kind of blogger hyperbole that makes so many people wary of what's said on music blogs. Comparing it to Heartbreaker or Being There, for example, may be a completely deserved comparison, but realistically, there's no way anyone will believe that. And the fact the album isn't out for more than a month certainly doesn't help matters much.

But this is one of those times where the hyperbole is worth believing. Frontman Mark Browning has a perfectly world-weary voice, and he's crafted an album-full of songs that show it off. It doesn't matter whether he's doing a standard, upbeat country song ("Sugar Cane", for example), or slowing things down to tell a story ("1913"), Browning has a voice that makes him sound like he's carrying the weight of the world on his back, and he's backed by music that creates and sustains a similar vibe. Even when he gives up lead vocals, and allows someone else a turn -- as he does on "Martas Song" (lack of apostrophe the band's) -- it still leads to an incredible outcome, with a song that would do Joanna Newsom or Laura Barrett proud. Really, there's not a track on American Lo-Fi that isn't absolutely spectacular, and there's little more to be said about it beyond: buy it. As soon as it comes out.

"Ox's Mark Browning has a perfectly world-weary voice, and he's crafted an album-full of songs that show it off. Even when he gives up lead vocals and allows someone else a turn -- as he does on 'Martas Song' (lack of apostrophe the band's) - it still leads to an incredible outcome, with a song that would do Joanna Newsom or Laura Barrett proud. Really, there's not a track on American Lo-Fi that isn't absolutely spectacular."
- www.iheartmusic.net/serendipity


A few years back, one of the most unforgettable collections of
alternative country music was released, yet it whisked past the
mainstream in forgettable fashion. Ox, or Vancouver’s Mark
Browning with a hall–of–fame cast of Canadian alternative country
musicians dropped Dust Bowl Revival, a haunting, graspingly
chilling set of songs as dry and dusty as a good shot of
Appalachian moonshine. While the album received critical acclaim,
sales and most importantly, popularity failed to materialize in a
deserved manner, leaving Browning and company as faceless
ghosts of the scene; as musically powerful as the heavyweights,
but only influential if allowed to spook. Now Browning has
returned with American Lo–Fi, a set that is even better than Dust
Bowl Revival. It is hopeful the acclaim will encourage mass
consumption. While the debut was for the most part a solo record
with studio help, this one is much more collaborative, as Ryan
Bishops (Kate Maki), Rose Murphy and Shawn Matteson, all
accomplished west coast musicians, have signed on full–time to
beef up Ox.
“We tried some different things this time certainly, and
consequently, I think this record came from much more of a band
headspace. Dust Bowl Revival was a solitary themed record and
more introspective, American Lo–fi is brash, because it comes
from a band that has been living out of a van for two years. Like
us in ways, American Lo–fi is a dirty album.” Employing a more
thematic, grounded approach than the debut, Browning
attempted to chronicle, or at least hash out, his own
interpretation of North American culture, coiled together from his
extensive, and I mean extremely extensive, touring schedule.
Apparently Browning and company have not had a home for more
than a month in five years, averaging well over 200 shows per
year. That is a hell of a lot of touring.
“I do not clearly understand our records until after they’re released. American Lo–fi is a record I really liked as we were
making it. It seemed to have a nice sneer once in a while that
would creep up and be creepy, and then go away again in a wash
of reverb. We smoked more dope making this album and
sonically, that effected how we did things,” explains Browning. “It
became a process of experimentation, and consequently, very
little of this album was done before 2am. That is why the album
thematically mirrors the dirty tendencies of North American
culture, like diner and street culture; not the one you see on
daytime talk television, more the one that exists in bus stations.”
The result is a drunken, impressively personal expose in
song, one that shakes the demons in all of us. An
experimentation in letting tact, and all that comes with it take a
holiday, American Lo–fi is the artless counterpart for the art
rocker, the soul that gives the styled haircut a good shaking every
time hedonism takes control of common sense. Brooding,
bacchanalian, repressively sweet, good natured and smart,
Browning has once again reached the acme in Canadiana, a set
that exposes everything we do not want, but desperately need to
let loose in order to be free.
“The serious atmosphere stuff is more direct writing,
straight from my head,” expands Browning. “I try to be as direct
as possible when I write that way. I am not into poetic lyrics
because I think they are contrived; people do not talk in clever
rhymes. I am not into impressing people with cleverness, I am just
trying to get things out of my head. Besides, rock and roll was
never meant to be clever, it is meant to be real. I am more
interested in doing that.”
Now back to their touring schedule. As noted, Ox tour
religiously, if you take that description literally. Home is where
you take your shoes off, according to Browning, and such
ideology has garnered a steadily burgeoning fan base, from Aberdeen to Victoria. “Rock and roll bands are defined on the
road. I think touring is an essential part of the process of making
music,” he affirms. “Ultimately I love the travel, and more
importantly, I love the adventure of it. I love not knowing what the
next day, or the next week will look like. It is more than tiring;
definitely exhausting. But I will rest after the tour is over; actually,
fuck it, I will rest when I am dead.” V
SHAIN SHAPIRO

- View Magazine


Mark Brownings’s vocals remind the listener of Beck, and the music blends elements of Springsteen, Velvet Underground and Americana roots.
Punk meets hillbilly. Farmer in the city. Neil Young jamming with Bob Dylan. Tape hiss, crackle and amp hum. The sound is raw, honest and glorious.

Browning contributes guitar, bass, piano and wurlitzer. He is joined by Ryan Bishops (piano, bass, guitar), Rose Murphy (drums) and Shawn Matheson (bass). Special guests include Be Good Tanyas, Kevin Kane (Grapes of Wrath) and Jesse Zubot.

Highlights include the tremolo-laced Miss Idaho, the dreamy Tom Petty-esque 747, the dustbowl Pete Seeger-style 1913, and the gritty Awkward Beauty. American Lo Fi is an instant classic. - Belleville Intelligencer


Canadian indie darlings Ox have finally returned with their second LP, set for release October 17, and the band does not disappoint. Gritty, authentic road tunes like the opening track, “Miss Idaho,” or “El Camino Pt. 2,” set this album apart and immediately grabs the listener. Soulful, passionate – at times a little lonely, too; these guys are multi-dimensional – the album takes the listener along on the journey Ox has been travelling since the release of their first disc in 2003. Country blends with a kind of Hayden-meets-Arlo Guthrie folk sound for a simultaneously powerful yet low-key album documenting the travails of everyday living. Other standout tracks include “1913.” - Spill Magazine


Discography

'Tuco' (to be released, October 2011)
'Silent Night & Other Cowboy Songs' (Cosmic Daves Record Factory 2010)
'Burn Out' (Weewerk 2009)
'American Lo Fi' (Weewerk 2006)
'Dust Bowl Revival' (Indie/Maximum 2003)

Photos

Bio

Ox began in the smokey confines of East-side Vancouver’s Profile Studios- as songwriter Mark Browning’s project to remake Woody Guthrie’s ‘Dust Bowl Ballads’. What started as a musical history excercise and sonic experiment quickly transformed into an intimate expression of rambling folk soundscape mixed with indie rock. Browning’s 2003 debut, ‘Dust Bowl Revival’ bridged the burgeoning roots alt-country scene into indie cult status coming out of nowhere to eventually reach #1 on Canada’s national college radio chart- the first time an independent record has achieved such an honour.

Following this, thousands of miles of touring across Canada, the USA, UK, Ireland, Germany, and the Netherlands crystalized Ox’s underground cult status. Avoiding the mainstream, and ignoring the industry, Ox lurks on the fringe with a fiercely independent DIY approach and through 3 subsequent albums- each generating critical acclaim- has gained a loyal following.

After 7 years and 4 albums, Browning moved the Ox homebase to his hometown of Sudbury, Ontario. There, with support from longtime Ox collaborator Ryan Bishops, and part-time sideman Brian Dunn, he founded Cosmic Dave’s Sound Emporium- an atmospheric analog equiped recording studio and vintage music store situated in an iconic old-time Sudbury diner. Here, Ox continues the tradition begun in Vancouver combining haunting dust bowl soundtracks with reverb-soaked garage folk- either providing late night playlists for all night prairie drives.