Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ex Hex's Debut Rips in Title and Sound

I haven’t reviewed an album in a while and that is mostly because I haven’t heard one in full which was worth talking about.  However, I recently went and saw Ex Hex at the Sinclair and boy was it a show to remember.  I originally went to see two local openers the first of which absolutely killed.  But Ex Hex was a band that had been on my radar for some time after lead singer/guitarist Mary Timony formed the band Wild Flag alongside Sleater Kinney's Carrie Brownstein.  After an incredible set I picked up their debut record and after several times through, it only keeps getting better.  Entitled “Rips” the album contains twelve nearly perfect tracks of 80’s infused, guitar driver pop rock.  Album opener “Don’t Wanna Lose” establishes the "love theme" which is present in most songs on the album and starts things off with a whiny guitar sound which is ever present throughout the record.  “New Kid” calls to mind early Joan Jett and maintains a steady baseline with layers of lead and rhythm guitar which play off each other superbly.  Betsy Wright’s bass and Timony’s guitar work bounce back and forth like a perfectly timed ping pong match. “How You Got That Girl” is one of the two tracks written by Wright and hearkens back to 80’s giants like Pat Benatar with a chunkier rhythm and the snappy guitar squeals which define Ex Hex’s sound.  Heavy track “Beast” is a slap in the face before the haunting, muted “Everywhere” takes things in a different direction.  Later on “You Fell Apart” is right on track with other 80’s revivalists of today sounding like a cross between the Dum Dum Girls and L.A. garage pop vixens Bleached.  The album closes just as strongly as it begins with the upbeat “Radio On” bringing more sing along choruses and bubbly new wave a la The Go Go’s.  Closing track “War Paint” has one of the best lines of the album as Timony sings “Put your war paint on and dance alone in the crowd”.  This sums up Ex Hex. They are who they are and they do what they do and you'll just have to deal with it.  A band which clearly comes out of the marginalized, loner portion of society and provides the world with the kind of catchy radio rock which is friendly enough for your grandma and rough enough for your cousin going through his punk phase.  Although still relatively fresh having just released their debut back in October of 2014, the band is incredibly tight live and is destined for a phenomenal follow up in my opinion.  Keep your eyes peeled and catch them if you can because I’m sure they won’t be playing such small venues for much longer.

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