album review: Oceansize – "Frames"

Seeing Oceansize play Mercury Lounge in June 2004 is one of the highlights of my concert career. Having them play a room that size was akin to having Shaquille O’Neal sleep in a baby’s crib – you know things are going to get messed up by the end of the night. With such an enormous, thunderous sound, watching them gave me the feeling of teetering on the edge of complete destruction. It didn’t matter they were supporting Mclusky or that there were only about 25 people in the audience, as the cool kids stood at the bar down the hall or were still lined up outside. They crushed it that night. Standing next to one speaker, my stomach took such a beating from their songs that I had to step away for fear of losing my dinner. Leaving that night (before Mclusky), I knew Oceansize was a band I needed to see again…and again.

More than three years have passed and I haven’t seen them since and that’s because they haven’t been here. An EP, the incredible Music For Nurses, followed their debut, Effloresce – no US tour. Then came their second album, Everyone Into Position, a mammoth melding of sour and sweet, quiet and loud – again, no US tour. One of their songs was on The OC (don’t hold it against them) and they still didn’t hit the states.

Now comes Frames, the first offering from the German label Superball Music, and looking at their live dates, well, you know the rest. There isn’t a US release date for Frames, either. I’m still hopeful both will happen, tremendously hopeful, and right now would be perfect, because Frames contains some of their best work. Nine tracks, 77 minutes, including a ten-minute instrumental (“an old friend of the christy’s”) and a bonus track, “voorhees” (a tribute to Jason or a shout-out to New Jersey?).

Frames is a tempered, steady assault, alternating in both mood and speed. It’s an album to play straight through, and repeatedly, to appreciate how well Oceansize deliver a sound that dozens of bands have aspired to yet have failed to deliver. Want to leap tall buildings in a single bound, run a three minute mile or bend a bar of steel with your bare hands? Even if none of these goals are on today’s “to-do” list, Frames will make you feel like anything is possible. To say Oceansize will soon be in America to show everyone how it’s done? Hmmm, maybe not. Until they arrive (gotta stay positive, though), I’ll listen to Frames and think about how lucky the people are who get to see them play.

Seek out this record, invest some time and be amazed, for these boys wield a mighty big hammer and they ain’t afraid to use it. (JOHN BYRNE)
Oceansize – “Unfamiliar” mp3 buy

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