These Arms Are Snakes – Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelopes Go Home

Is this a Beastie Boys CD? I thought, listening to the echoing drum effects after putting in These Arms Are Snakes latest release Oxeneers or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelopes Go Home. But, in fading, I heard the guitar and I knew that I did put in the right CD after all.

I immediately liked the guitar and bass riffs on “The Shit Sisters,” I was grooving behind the wheel while driving to work. “Ride, dark cowboy, ride / ride into the night,” and riding my in my good old ’95 Mercury Tracer, I looked in my rearview and saw the “100,000 dollar horses” that Steve Snere was commenting on—the shiny new hummer coming to plow me down like road kill. It is an intriguing social commentary on the progression of the human race. Snere says “I was born too deep,” into the mess things have become.

The second track reminds me of the late nights when that guy, who lives above me, is playing his Nintendo. “Angela’s Secret,” turns out not to be so cartoonish when the verses start. Usually while I am driving to work I don’t like songs that depress me, going to work is depressing enough, so I try to focus more on the music than Angela’s sad story. This song is musically simple but very nice to the ear, which is always a good strategy. The bass riff still won’t let me forget Super Mario Brothers and those dark levels with all the pipes; maybe that was the inspiration for the song.

“Big News” is my anthem. “I’ve got a life and desires / and it’s more than to retire / I trust there’s more in a life to lead.” While I was driving I felt the urge to be spontaneous and not even go to that prison. My job is not my life so I took the next exit and I was done with that racket. I ended up in very desolate area that I hadn’t ever seen before. There was a very energetic and carefree feeling to the music, but only until the next track emerged. I suddenly felt sad. I don’t even know if the track has a name but it made me regret my decision to skip out on work.

The short track turns out to be an opener for “Tracing Your Pearly Whites.” The lyrics are quite despondent but, at the same time, he is talking about going to the dentist. I think it is a big metaphor for the injustice of society because, hey, it fits with the rest of the CD. The actual beauty of this song is that anyone could interpret this metaphor however they want to fit their own situation, so I have done the same for my purposes.

After taking a strange exit and driving down a two-lane highway for what seemed like eternity, I began looking in my mirror about every 10 seconds. I kept expected to see that van from Stephen King’s The Night Flyer come rolling up behind me; now that was a creepy movie. “Gadget Arms” with all the effects and very few lyrics could be in the soundtrack to a horror movie; a mad sense of paranoia. 

The music of “The Great North Woods,” is back to the energetic mood the CD started on but after hearing the lyrics I became worried again. Snere is talking about a Canadian farmer who kills people and feeds them to pigs. The intense repetition of sounds in “La Stanza Bianca” is intense. I like it but the lyrics are about how the mentally ill are treated in our society. I love smelling “the mischief in the air.” It seems like I know the party he is describing in “Darlings of New Midnight.” The music is party material while the lyrics are obviously pointing out the inferiorities of the party mentality. The rhythmic melody and chanting lyrics could bring about some cult suicide to innocent partygoers. It is a song that is played at parties to make the people there think twice about what they are doing—it’s great.

Then of course “Idaho” would play for slow death procession in the suicide party TAAS has created. The organ fits perfect and Snere almost sounds like a belligerent high priest who is no doubt describing hell and a beings arrival home. But—who knows maybe he is just talking about Idaho. So my ride in the car and my experience with the latest from These Arms Are Snakes made it a weird night. Oxeneers has a range of moods and sounds that make it pleasing for an array of different people and, it makes a perfect soundtrack to a crazy night.

(Jade Tree Records)