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Kenneth McMurtrie

Kenneth McMurtrie

Ex Hex - Rips

As album titles go Rips is about as representative of the contents of the album it adorns as you’re going to get. Twelve tracks that rip past you in next to no time, leaving you spinning around like some cartoon character who’s just had a close call with a juggernaut. Taking their name from singer Mary Timony’s 2005 solo album the trio offer up no apologies for their loud, fun and honest approach to bringing rock ‘n’ roll to the masses.

Opening with the glam-psych of ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’ they’re into the fast lane straight away with insistent riffs and searing solos, which sets the scene for the rest of the album’s duration. Largely effect-less under the watchful eye of veteran producer Mitch Easter there’s a comforting honesty about the music on offer here, nodding as it does quite frequently towards its obvious heritage amidst Seventies acts such as The Runaways & Suzi Quatro. It holds up very well in comparison to what would be considered classic output from that era and equally well with contemporary acts. Think back to when The Donnas were in their prime and you’re in the right ballpark.

‘How You Got That’ slows the pace slightly and allows for some good vocal harmonies to make their presence felt as a less than perfect ex is disparaged. And the solos keep on coming too, to an extent that I’m at a loss when it comes to thinking about any recent album where they stand out so prominently.

With Rips Ex Hex have fashioned one of the year’s stand out rock records of any flavour – one size fits all on Timony's first album since Wild Flag's debut. Whether it’s sing-a-long, fist-in-the-air-jumping-around, out for a drive or whatever you’re looking for wherever you’re playing it, it will provide. Again and again and again.  

Rips is available from amazon & iTunes.

The Coral - The Curse Of Love

Having been inactive as a group for the past two and a bit years The Coral have now finally got round to having The Curse Of Love mastered & made fit for release. Recorded back in 2006, upon Bill Ryder-Jones' initial exit from the line-up it was subsequently shelved when he returned to the fold for a bit. Sound-wise then it's obviously going to be more in the vein of The Invisible Invasion / Roots & Echoes than the lusher sound produced on 2010's Butterfly House.

The trademark melancholic-yet-whimsical sound of the band's initial years is therefore here in spades, possibly augmented by the loss at the time of Ryder-Jones. Leading off with the sparse 'The Curse Of Love (Part 1)' there's a conceptual feel to the whole enterprise with wintry and dark imagery being conjured up on song after song - hang men & gallows, weeping meadows, old women sat with their cats by the fire and that confounded curse of love.

Live these songs will be best served by an intimate venue although there's a burst of life mid-way through 'You Closed The Door' as the guitar cuts loose. There's never any feeling of bitterness in the work but that song title's yet another thing to get you thinking that at the time of recording things were a bit moody.

For 'View From The Mirror' to now be finally available for wide consumption, the album's existence is utterly justified. One of the most atmospheric songs the band have ever done there's a distinct feeling of hairs standing up on the back of your neck each time you play it. Close on its heels 'The Watcher In The Distance' ups the album's tempo with an almost swing jazz time signature married to some nicely psychedelic effects and guitar work, which could easily have lasted another minute or so.

Overall then this is a welcome release after its enforced hibernation (and one which also raises the possibility of the band's similarly on-hold recordings from 2012 finally seeing the light of day) and, whilst all members seem content working on other projects, a tour on the back of it would be equally welcome.

The Curse Of Love is released on October 20 and available from amazon & iTunes.

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