Two 7”s from two ‘classic’ bands. One was shortlived, lasted a year; the other has been going for more than 30. Both could be considered pseudo-punk at times. And that’s all the coincidences I can think of. Besides having bald men in their lineups.
The Ex are one of the musical underground’s (if such a thing exists) finest assets. A complex discography of more than a dozen studio albums, including some produced by our God Almighty Steve Albini. Three decades on the road, only guitarist Terrie Hessels remains of the original lineup; founding member and vocalist G.W. Sok decided to call it quits last year. The band (complete with Katherine Bornefeld and Andy Moor, both Ex veterans who have been in the band for twenty years) decided to hire a new guy and keep rocking. In 2009, 30th anniversary celebrations were made; back in 1936, a thousand CNT members cheered “Ay Carmela!”. I saw them live last year (after having experienced them with Sok some time ago) with this fresh individual, a fellow named Arnold de Boer, and they cranked out a shitload of tunes which I barely recognized. It was tight since The Ex are the definition of tightness, but Sok’s voice and grave attitude was sorely missing. As if his very presence set a determined mood. It was weird and strangely erotic. This new single embodies the sweat of the new Ex. “Maybe I Was The Pilot” starts with a relatively benign guitar riff soon joined with pounding baritone guitar and cowbell-based percussion. The heavy, monotonous mess then welcomes Boer’s vocals which strangely resemble Sok’s affected, invoking utterances, yet are more “normal”, more melodic even. By the end the guitars get loose and the song adopts a stop/go (quiet/loud) dynamic. In typical Ex fashion, they add a car horn to the whole mix and the tribal frenzied becomes quite unique. “Our Leaky Homes”, side B, starts off with Boer mentioning some toothpaste before the Ex’s idyosincratic groovy rhythms shut him up. The riff melodies displayed here are very Terrie Hessels… on a sunny day. Though ramshackle and noisy, the song is poppish, hammering in a Fall-esque reiteration worthy of a bittersweet headache. Part of this impression might be due to Boer’s carefree vocals, yet the instrumentation doesn’t get too brutal. While not exactly ‘underwhelmed’ I still remain skeptical of this whole new Ex thing. The new compositions cannot be faulted but they strike me as decaffeinated outtakes from Turn. They’ve always been listener-friendly but the guitar freakouts seem more contained than ever. Apparently a new album is due in some months; colour me intrigued.
Download link in comments.