Monday, March 25, 2019

Album Review: Ex Hex - It's Real

Wait, what year is this? Ex Hex are three young women from Washington D.C. playing 80’s-style rock without even a hint of irony. In fact their approach is refreshingly earnest. There are no winks and nods, no fake hair and no affected poses: this isn’t a joke or a tribute band.

Ex Hex does get all of the cosmetics right: Big riffs! Palm-muted staccato guitar accompaniments!  Guitar solos with flanger! Gang vocals choruses! And it’s all in the service of great songs that would all have been hits in 1986.

Musical references abound: Def Leppard, Pat Benatar, Billy Idol, Bryan Adams… Huge, muscular rock with a knack for killer hooks and ear worm melodies. There is surprisingly little bombast, however: this is almost lo-fi Arena Rock, Pop Metal on an alt-rock budget, perhaps because of the sparse production. 

They could have gone all the way and added layers upon layers of vocals and synthesisers. Instead, this sounds like a band playing in their rehearsal space, which makes the performances that much more immediate and the songs that much more impactful.

The difference between Ex Hex and other current 80’s revivalists is that none of this feels affected, merely the result of undeniable influences and a real eagerness to rock out and kick ass. We’ve heard a lot of bands pay tribute to the 80’s rock scene: Weezer, the Darkness, Ghost, Steel Panther… However heartfelt those tributes were, they are all tongue in cheek. For Ex Hex however, as the album title indicates, It’s Real.

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