May 17th, 2010 | by CASEY JARMAN Music | Posted In: Columns, Cut of the Day

LEAK WEEK: Dragging an Ox through Water, "Among the Rock," They're Gonna Send Me to the Dead Mumford Pencil Box Factory (Stankhouse Records)

Dragging an Ox Through WaterHey kids! It turns out that we've got a few tracks lying around our email inboxes that are brand-spankin'-new, so we're going to make a whole week out of leaking them for your benefit. Read on...

Brian Mumford's solo project, Dragging an Ox through Water, is always changing. He began, about a decade ago, by banging on a chunky old acoustic guitar. Soon there were suitcases of keyboards, effects pedals and mysterious devices making their way onto stage with him.

At last visit, Mumford was playing an electric guitar, and he had built a strange device to sit in as a ghostly second band member: A single candle that made everything in DAOTW's sonic assault warble (like "a really bad tape," Mumford says) as its flame flickered in the air. That he would give up this much control to a candle probably won't come as a surprise to longtime Dragging an Ox followers. Mumford has worked arrhythmic blips and bleeps into his music for years—the balance between chaos and melody is at the cornerstone of what he does, and a theme he visits both musically and lyrically.

[audio:amongtherock.mp3]

"Among the Rock," a leak from Mumford's forthcoming Stankhouse Records 7-inch (you can download the track for free right here) doesn't use the otherworldly candle device, as far as I can tell, but it does scream and skip with a handful of overdriven effects, sharing a nervous, nauseous twang with Alex Chilton's divisive Like Flies on Sherbert album. Mumford, not content to throw uncharacteristically straight (if colorful) rhymes over a Springsteen-on-acid groove for four minutes, fucks things up by switching to dance-pop for no particular reason right around the 1:45 mark.

As with many Dragging an Ox through Water tunes, it takes a few listens for your brain to pull the melodies (and there are many) out of the wreckage—it's not until the third or fourth time through that the listener starts grabbing at Mumford's off-kilter, descriptive lyricism or building any sort of coherent narrative out of the disjointed ideas here. Lines like "You ain't nothin' but a hounddog cryin' all the time/ I'm on the internet/ The jailhouse rocks because the people are in jail" only muddy those waters, but they're also hilarious and sorta stunning at the same time.

That's what's special about these songs: Whether it's a turn of phrase or a shard of sound, you hear something new every time you listen. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out this song.

The new DAOTW 7-inch (see the obscenely long title above) is due out on Stankhouse Records in late June, and you can download this track until 11:59 this Wednesday night. Why then, you ask? Why not.

Links:
Dragging an OxSpot
Dragging an OxSpace
Dragging an OxBler
 
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