We've talked about asthetics I'm not down with before -- the whole Hot Water Music thing being beyond my comprehension, for example -- and I'm trying to figure out what it is about Ex Friends' full-length, Rules For Making Up Words, that turns me off. Just a few months back, I was excited beyond all belief regarding their Twisted Around 7-inch. Now, listening to this record that they've released on Paper + Plastick, I'm just kind of watching it tick by in iTunes, waiting for the damned thing to be over. For lack of a better thing, I think it's kind of like my Dillinger Four preferences. I love D4 songs with Paddy on vocals, and get kind of ambivalent toward Erik songs, but I'm pretty all right with songs where they both sing. Same thing goes for Ex Friends -- I love Audrey Crash's vocals, but am kind of turned off by Joel Tannenbaum's delivery. So, it goes that tracks like "Fight Like A Girl" or "Archaeologists of the Future," where Tannenbaum's rather harsh, strained voice is balanced by Crash's more melodic tones, are more to my liking than those where Tannenbaum handles vocals solo. It's likely that the balance on the 7-inch was more easily maintained, there only being 5 songs to the LP's 14. That said, I still like the swagger the band has. "Western Civilization" has that revved-up rock 'n' roll aspect that the Clash used to develop so well. Actually, that's why I was intitially turned on by Ex Friends -- they understand that, originally, punk rock was basically Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley songs played double- or triple-time, and when they lock into that idea, Rules For Making Up Words is fun as hell.
Other things to recommend the album include the really fantastic cover, looking like a bunch of ads you'd find in the back of an ancient Marvel comic or something. The whole of Ex Friends' full-length ends up being okay (especially just kind of fading out at the end of "Let's Get Old"), but there are about half a dozen gems to really recommend tracking it down if you liked that last 7-inch.
Rules For Making Up Words is out now on CD from Creep Records (theroretically -- I can't find it in their store), and will see vinyl release via Paper + Plastick later this spring.
Milwaukee's Galactic Cannibal have been getting two things mentioned about them, near as I can tell: first, they're a side project from Direct Hit!'s guitarist and singer Nick Woods. Second, they sound a lot like Dillinger Four. The first point is relevant to the second, because Direct Hit! sounds nothing like D4, and I'm always a big fan of side projects when they don't sound like a slightly tweaked version of the main draw (see also: everything Ben Weasel has ever done). The title to Galactic Cannibal's LP, We're Fucked is pretty indicative of the band's bleak worldview. These are harsh songs, delivered less by singing than by declamatory bark. It's energetic, and moves forward briskly, but it is relentlessly unpleasant. Strange aside -- on my second or third listen through We're Fucked, I was wandering up and down the stairs in my house and could at one point only hear the high end of the vocals. It still sounded pissed, if indistinct. It's kind of a metaphor for the whole album, really: a sense of not being good enough, but never quite knowing why. The LP comes in an amazing sleeve, which is neon pink and black ink screened onto day-glo yellow card stock. It's certainly eye-catching. You can snag limited colored vinyl on either pink or lime green from their Bandcamp page, as well as from one of the labels putting it out -- Underground Communique Records, Lost Cat Records, Encapsulated Records, and Hewhocorrupts, Inc.