Boxing – Dig the Final Time

Dig the Final Time

A listener’s perspective, including their prejudices and tastes, are probably the single most important factor when an album gets sent in by an artist and gets torn apart by some schmuck (like me). Sometimes, we reviewers get caught up in our own sort of tunnel-vision, thinking that our own personal perspective is the only correct and logical one. This is the natural right of a reviewer, as we’re in command for the most part, and if my editor doesn’t like where I’m coming from, he can always fire me. But whenever possible, it is important to try to drop all of the baggage and take a truly objective listen. This sense of guilt doesn’t usually faze me, except on releases such as this one. I’ve listened to this record from Boxing about a dozen times, and I feel I owe them two different perspectives.
The first way I perceived this record: By way of disclaimer, I’m a big fan of Guided By Voices. But Boxing are REALLY big fans. Too big. I mean, many of these songs could have been pulled right from Robert Pollard’s “suitcase.” Let’s consider the evidence: A muffled low-fi production is utilized throughout. The songs are based around the cool, heroic melodies of the vocalist. There are several half-finished drunken acoustic song interludes. The themes of drinking, air travel, and other random topics are explored in a stream-of-consciousness manner. Starting to sound familiar? If you need further proof, the outro to “Green and Grey” is a direct steal from GBV’s “Big Boring Wedding,” right down to the guitar sound. Although the band possesses more of a southern twang than their idols, you may have trouble ignoring the similarities. Although some kind of parallel development scenario is possible, I have difficulty believing, in the Year of Our Lord 2001, with Guided By Voices being somewhat of a household name among musicians, that the band had absolutely no exposure to the GBV sound and came up with this record by luck in some isolated trailer park in the hills. It would be easy to simply dismiss these guys as rip-offs, except that….uh….I like it.
There is another way to look at this record, and I have to abandon my perspective (and my “reviewer’s pretensions”) in order to point this out. Let’s pretend I’m a person living in a place with no music scene, and for one reason or another have never been exposed to GBV’s early catalog. Would a listen to Boxing have made me just as big a fan as I am of GBV now? (Because let’s face it, you either like this lo-fi stuff or you don’t.)
While I’m not running to the store to return my copy of Propeller, there is something special going on here. I wouldn’t have listened to it so many times otherwise. There is no patent on this sound, so what’s wrong with trying to explore it? In the hands of the talented songwriters found in this band, Dig the Final Time is indeed an enjoyable listen. I hear a lot of people wishing aloud for GBV to explore their low-fi tendencies once again. I have news for you: That ain’t gonna happen. (Even if it did, things just wouldn’t be the same.) Boxing has the talent to pull it off, and they have a way with words to boot, so there are many keepers. If you’re one of those people who used to like GBV but can’t stand their “big-rock” era, you should check out Boxing, who have no problem with carrying the new torch. They’re good at it.