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Oh800 Release Debut LP

London is calling – and this time Oh800 is the band to know. The Infinite Jest Records band’s newly released album, Character Building, throws out the indie music playbook and garners impressive accolades from this writer. Nine tracks don’t seem enough – the thirst to hear more and more kept me hitting replay, replay, replay! They don’t just cruise on talent alone, there’s an unspoken chemistry in this band that jumps through the speakers. Are they in a different dimension?

Oh800 throws out big hits with the title track, as well as “Should Known It,” “Mission To Mars,” “Palindrome” and the unforgettable, “I Want You Around.” While other bands complete albums with just a few meaningful tracks, Oh800 seems to collectively win in each of the nine instances. Comprised of Eoin Rooney on vocals and guitar, Gavin Ellis on bass and the synthesizer and Olly Betts on drums, Oh800 has hints of The Talking Heads, The Clash, David Bowie or LCD Soundsytem. They do never outright stamp these influences in their styling but as a listener, my mind drifted to these spaces of the head and the heart. I felt very at home in these outer-limits of rock with punk and synth musings.

So what are they singing about? You know life, really. The band’s artwork is a credit card and you get the sense while listening to the entire record that at some point the story turned from getting what you want in life, to dealing with the consequences. We’re all indebted to something, whether it’s financial or a personal relationship. Or ourselves. Oh800 doesn’t ever get too thick or depressing and they guitar riff their way into happier, possibly kookier vibes. The synthesizer work on “Melanin” is just so on point and trippy that I felt like dancing all night. Close your eyes while listening to this song and bop to the beat, grind to the riffs and shout with the tin guitar echoes. It’s an experience to say the least. And, yes, I do get this involved when I listen to music.

So, are they in a different dimension?

I think they are. Yes. They take little time revving up the listener to stellar sounds and are never so unique they feel trendy or insincere. Oh800 don’t come across as arrogant or hipsters. I think they connect on a level that music has been waiting for since the early 2000s. They really made me feel like I could navigate any sort of stress and power through life the same way floating in the ocean makes you feel like a feather. It’s a buoyance that little to no bands have. It didn’t take more than a few listens of Character Building to achieve this, and true, some other bands take some warming up and they do help you reach that nirvana, but Oh800’s personality and instant rapport is something to celebrate. Character Building is a solid outing and huge kudos to the trio, Oh800, on this achievement. Two thumps way the hell up!

Amy Thigpen



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