Best of What's Next: Oh No Oh My
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Members: Greg Barkley, Joel Calvin, Daniel Hoxmeier, Tim Regan
Album: People Problems
For Fans of: The Shins, The Little Ones, Throw Me The Statue
Austin, Texas calls itself the Live Music Capital of the World, so it’s no surprise Oh No Oh My hails from the city of City Limits. Co-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Hoxmeier wouldn’t have it any other way. “There’s not a whole lot of other places I’d like to live long-term,” he says, which is convenient for all the followers Oh No Oh My picked up around the area.
The band’s fans have embraced Oh No Oh My’s upbeat, jovial style, as evidenced in the ironic song “Jane Is Fat,”. As the band toured over the last few years, playing the same peppy songs ad infinitum, more and more fans became accustomed to their cheerful sound. Virtually every review of Oh No Oh My’s records contained a synonym of “upbeat” or “happy.”
But as the members of Oh No Oh My have matured, their newer experiences don’t fit with their early material. “We were a lot happier back then, and the music sounded happier,” says Hoxmeier. But their forthcoming album People Problems, set to release on Jan. 18, takes a different emotional route. “I just have no affinity anymore for the lighthearted stuff. I don’t relate to it,” he explains. “For me, my life has become a lot more complicated, and I think our music reflects that.”
It’s not just Daniel whose troubles in life spurred new songs. After Joel was in a major car accident, he woke up in a hospital with “So I Took You” in his head: a jaunty track that gradually builds as flighty violins and pianos make their entrances.The track takes listeners through what is ostensibly a pretty little love song about ushering a girl around town. The song is under two minutes and has an extremely abrupt conclusion—so abrupt that many friends texted Hoxxmeier, having thought the CD was broken. “But the guy slit the girl’s throat, and she can’t talk anymore,” Hoxmeier reveals, explaining the lack of a traditional outro.
While Hoxmeier prefers the new approach, his fans aren’t as easily satisfied. Hoxmeier knew as much, but that didn’t stop him from going a different way. “We definitely could’ve just sat down and written songs to make our fans happier, but I didn’t want to write a lie,” he says.
Even so, Hoxmeier is still “definitely worried about what people think about [Oh No Oh My]. … Hopefully they’ll like [the new direction].” Although when the album was leaked, he saw a few tweets that disparaged Oh No Oh My’s darker sound.
But fans needn’t be too worried; the astute, intelligent lyrics, bouncy rhythms and omnipresent hooks are still fastened tightly to every song. But there’s a dark undercurrent that reflects Hoxmeier’s, and the band’s, maturation as artists and people. People Problems isn’t the perfect summer record that conjures images of beaches and snowcones; it aims to reflect the many facets of life, whether those aspects contain anger, sorrow, happiness, or confusion.