Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
Austin, Texas, band Oh No Oh My titled its latest album, "People Problems," undoubtedly after listening back to the collection of songs it had decided to bundle under one single line. It could have been the first phrase to come out of any one of the four members' mouths. It could have just popped out, blurted as an observation, the unavoidable connectivity between all of the songs. There were people problems spread thick throughout the record, but in listening, it seems that the problems are more so the slight inconveniences, the hardships that come when two people spend time together. They are problems, sure, but they are the minor ones that come from miscommunication and strange disturbances to what we've created as our own personal tranquilities, even if they're no more tranquil than a war. The people problems aren't really problems with other people. Those being referred to here are those that are drummed up when we're forced into situations where we're at odds with our natural inclinations or we've found that we tend to respond to all of the flashing points that strike - with all of them being equal in weight. We're always lost in the shuffle, feeling like we don't belong or that we're heading out the door in the wrong direction, every waking day, and while it's no way to live, it's the way that's chosen us and it leads us to get a touch crazy. We see in others, gradients of the same impulses and when they're put together, things get volatile. It's a confluence of brains and hearts, stewed and strained into bits, like piles of noodles, still working, but with shorts flicking off and malfunctions driving a dizziness. We're often buzzed, often depressed and knowing it, feeling it - considerably or hardly. It creates a sensation of the smoky head and of an uncertainty that brands us.
Oh No Oh My's Daniel Hoxmeier, who shares lead vocal duties with Greg Barkley on the new record, punches this up appropriately on "So I Took You." He sings of the flimsiness of what one character knows and of the desire of her partner or friend in trying to bring her to a point where she doesn't feel so lost. It's a short song that is an effective journey to the different ports of the bifurcated mind and spirit - one that's knowing and one that's in limbo, never to meet until there's no intersection point left to meet at. Barkley sings, "So I took you to the house/Sat you down upon the couch/You said I don't know what to do/Darling, that's alright, we go to the roof/So I took you to the stars/Floating up above the yard/You said I don't know what to believe/Darling, that's alright, we go to the sea/So I took you to the beach/Buried sand up to your knees/You said I don't know where to start/Darling, that's alright we go to the car/So I took you in the town/Watch the people rush around/You said I don't know where to go/Darling, that's alright we go down below/So I took you to the chair/You bumped your head coming down the stairs/You said I don't know where I've been/Darling, that's alright this is the end." It seems like a struggle that could carry on right to the grave, without any sort of simplicity or understanding being reached. Those two could just keep on shuffling between sticky situations and the belief that they can only count on themselves.