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Josh T. Landow

CD of The Week

Week of 3/25/19

    Ex Hex - It's Real (Merge)

    Five years ago, the city of Townsville was under attack by lame music and needed a new set of rock and roll superheroes, much like the Powerpuff Girls. With the help of some Chemical EX, three woman came together and roared onto the scene, blasting away bad vibes and sad boring music with unstoppable power chords and finely-honed laser beam riffs. Ex Hex's first volume of killer tracks shredded nearly everything in its path, landing their debut record Rips on almost every top ten list. All three heroes have been in outfits prior to Ex Hex, most notably Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag), so they soared in with knowledge of what they were up against. After battling to victory and saving Townsville from mediocre music, they went back into hibernation, and only now have reemerged with an arsenal of 10 new headbangers.

    But rather than thwarting physical monsters hellbent on destruction, the struggles here are internal, personal and relationship driven. Themes of rainbows and diamonds, sun & moon, creeps & boyfriends, cosmic space and alternate dimensions repeat throughout It's Real, and offer a contextual world to transcribe Ex Hex's inner feelings.  The confident, sludgy single "Rainbow Shiner" unwraps and analyzes emotional wounds left by an ex, while the upbeat, chugging "Good Times" and strutting, star-crossed "Another Dimension" fondly reflect on better times while still relationship-bound.  

    Ex Hex has also naturally evolved, adding depth and sprawling '70-'80's power rock techniques to their collective. They've studied the best elements of bands like the Ramones ("Cosmic Cave"), The Runaways ("Tough Enough"), Scandal ("Medley/Want It to Be True") and merged in power ballads and phasing voice filters ("No Reflection" and "Talk to Me"). Of course, many elements that won their previous clashes still prove too effective to abandon, like the bouncy rollicking ride of "Diamond Drive" and soaring guitars paired with an anthemic sing-along chorus on "Radiate."

    Big or small, mundane or evil, Ex Hex has returned to help you battle whatever adversary life puts in your way with their 39 minutes of too-cool-for-school, eagle-spray-painted-van-doing-donuts-in-a-Woolsworths-parking-lot rock. Seeing is believing so study up on the new album, then witness all the arching back-to-back guitar-bass solos and pounding drums when the Ex Hex beacon shines brightly over Union Transfer on Wednesday, April 3rd. (Enter to win a pair of tickets here.)

    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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