QUICK SPINS: Ex Hex, Tweedy
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 9, 2014 4:00PM
Ex Hex, photo by Jonah Takagi
Let's check out recent debut releases from a certain father / son team, and a hard rocking trio featuring Mary Timony (ex-Wild Flag and Helium).
When we saw Ex Hex—the trio built by Mary Timony, Laura Harris, and Betsy Wright—a few months ago our only regret was that the band only had an EP for us to go home to since every song in their set was stuck in our head. With the release of their debut full-length Rips, that void is now filled and we are reminded of just how great a songwriting unit Ex Hex can be. Hook after hook rips through this record and after a while you just need to sit back and gaze ahead in wonder as the songs just keep barreling along without growing tired or tedious.
There's a bit of an outlaw vibe going n here as well, and we kept feeling like the music was being pulled back to the vibe of '50s rock and/or roll, not so much overtly through their sound but more via the attitude that race through Rips. The great thing about Ex Hex is how they take the usual three chord formula for rock and so quickly make it something so completely their own. Take the mixture of NYC CBGB swagger mixed with girl group gang vocals of "How You Got that Girl" for the perfect example of how Ex Hex works in familiar territory fills it with exciting new life.
This is a band that feels wrapped in the attitude of leather and sweat wielding great big, fat, ripping guitar tones to make a noise that can't be denied. When we heard their first 7" "Hot And Cold," we thought the band could easily just release slow and steady stompers but Rips shows Ex Hex can slay the listener at every tempo.
Ex Hex plays with Speedy Ortiz at The Empty Bottle on Oct. 25.
Jeff Tweedy loves being in bands. We've long wondered why he hasn't released a proper solo album during one of his breaks from his "9-to-5" group, Wilco, instead spending his time collaborating and/or producing a number of other acts. Sukierae bears the stamp of a Jeff Tweedy solo show, most of which tend to run on the introspective and slower acoustic side, but instead of going it alone he teamed up with his son Spencer Tweedy, who takes his place behind the drum kit to add a little pep to the proceedings.
Split into two discs, Sukierae won't disappoint Wilco fans since it's a straightforward collection of medium-tempo tunes that play to Jeff Tweedy's strengths both vocally and as a guitarist. We won't call it "dad rock"but it is a mostly mellow and very safe affair. We admit we'd hoped that Tweedy the band might have indulged some of Jeff Tweedy's more expire mental sides, but without a strong songwriter to work against he sticks to the safe road. Luckily for him his son was able to inject a little extra life into the proceedings. That's because, for us, the most interesting portions of the album come from Spencer Tweedy's drumming, providing a subtle touch to the songs that belie his years and indicate a true rhythmic gift that feels natural and not labored. It's miles ahead of his already solid work in The Blisters, and perhaps as he hones his multi-instrumental skills his future team-ups with dad, should they come, might help push Tweedy into new and less safe directions.
Jeff and Spencer Tweedy have been added to the lists of musicians paying tribute to Mavis Staples' 75th birthday at the Auditorium Theatre Nov. 19.