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Ex Hex Announce New Album

  • Published in News

At long last, Ex Hex have announced the follow up to 2014’s debut, Rips. Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris will release their second album together, It’s Real, on March 22 via Merge, followed by a UK tour in May. Now they give a first glimpse at the new material with ‘Cosmic Cave’, a bittersweet rave-up with shimmering phased guitars, a gooey-candied chorus and beamed-in “whoa-oh-ohs” that add a touch of melancholia to the frenzied speed-of-sound pace.

When Ex Hex exploded onto the scene with their unfettered brand of rock and riffage, the power trio for our generation had finally arrived. Made up of Mary Timony (guitar, vocals), Betsy Wright (bass, vocals), and Laura Harris (drums), the group’s 2014 debut Rips was a gleaming collection of tightly wound gems and near-constant touring throughout 2015 and 2016 established the band as a force to be reckoned with: an audacious three-piece distilling rock music to its essence with formidable skills and a reputation for frenzied and unabashedly fun live shows.

On It’s Real, the group’s forthcoming second album, Ex Hex’s commitment to larger-than-life riffs and unforgettable hooks remains intact, but the garage-y, post-punk approach that defined Rips has grown in scale and ambition. What started as a reaction to the blown-out aesthetic of Rips would test the sonic limits of the power trio and lead the band on a quest for a more immersive and three-dimensional sound. Vocal harmonies are layered ten tracks deep, solos shimmer and modulate atop heaving power chords, and the codas linger and stretch toward new frontiers of sound. On first listen, you might think you’ve unearthed a long-lost LP carved from the space where crunch-minded art rock and glitter-covered hard rock converge, an event horizon at the intersection of towering choruses and swaggering guitars.

Produced by Jonah Takagi (who also produced Rips), It’s Real was a more collaborative effort than its predecessor. Mary and Betsy could be found writing late into the night, leaning on Takagi to tighten up arrangements. Egos were surrendered in service to the music: Nothing was sacred or precious, and there was a relentless devotion to both songcraft and exploration. Dozens of guitar amps sat mic-ed in the next room, and the group experimented at a frenzied pace parsing countless combinations of instruments, pedals, and amps. They even dusted off Mary’s old Rockman, a small headphone amp designed by Boston guitarist Tom Scholz in 1982. Mary recounts, “It’s only about the size of a Walkman and takes eight AA batteries, but it sounds massive. We read that parts of [Def Leppard’s] Hysteria were tracked through it, and when we finally plugged it in, it blew our minds!”

Ex Hex UK live dates:

May 24 - Brudenell Social Club, LEEDS

May 25 - Deaf Institute, MANCHESTER

May 27 - The Exchange, BRISTOL

May 28 - Village Underground, LONDON

 

 

 

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Ex Hex, Stereo, Glasgow

  • Published in Live

 

Seldom do I really look forward to a gig with as much expectation as twenty years ago. Jaded by age and experience no doubt. With Ex Hex's Rips being a firm favourite amongst last year's album releases, however, the chance to see the band in performance was a prospect that got the juices flowing like old times.

Add to that the fact that I'd somehow previously managed to never see a show in Stereo and the checking out of a new venue added an extra element to the night ahead. Turns out it's quite a sweatbox, enjoys good sound, only has one slightly unfortunately placed pillar and they like to get gigs on and off pretty swiftly.

With that said then Ex Hex were on stage not much shy of 9pm, getting lavish praise from the hipster fanboys at stage left and heading into all the good works from Rips - 'How You Got That Girl', 'War Paint', 'Everywhere' etc. In keeping with their '70s glam sound a cover of The Sweet's 'Fox On The Run' duly made it into the set later on.

Extended solos from each instrument and guitar duels were all part of the energetic performance but overall my expectations weren't met. No doubt I was expecting the songs to be smashed out at a pace slightly greater than on record but that wasn't the case on the night, which left things a bit ploddy for me by the end of the show. A paradox maybe but not one the bulk of the audience seemed to suffer so probably all good in that respect.

Touring support came from the Jacuzzi Boys who I'd been equally keen to see despite also having the option in a couple of weeks time at Le Guess Who? in Utrecht. They charged through 'Smells Dead', 'Seventeen', 'Strange Exchange', 'Mt. Sinai' and a shed load more, accomplished one of the coolest in-set cable reconnections I've seen on a stage and generally deserved a far better (i.e. dancing) reaction than the enthusiastic but polite rounds of applause the audience doled out. On this evidence they're a must-see in Holland.

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