THE EXIT - HOME FOR AN ISLAND

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Album: Home For An Island
Artist: The Exit
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Home For An Island is New York based The Exit's sophomore release. I wasn't familiar with the band, or their first record, New Beat, but after listening to their second, I 'm pleased to have made their acquaintance. The Exit consists of Ben Brewer on guitar, Jeff DaRosa on bass, with each taking turns on vocal duties, and Gunnar on the drums as well as sounding Scandinavian and mysterious all at once.

In reading about The Exit online, I saw repeated references to The Clash and The Police. I think this is mostly based on the first album, but the Police-style, pop-reggae rhythms are definitely present here. Don't Push and So Leave Then sound a bit like they're channeling Sting and uh, the other two dudes. But The Exit have more than one sound, as they say in the website bio "We want to create an ultimate mix tape every time we make an album". Attempting something like this has the potential to be disastrous, but in this case I think it's mostly a positive. The aforementioned Don't Push kicks off the album with it's rock-reggae vibes, it's followed by the oddly named pop-punk Let's Go To Haiti, which is then followed by the more straight ahead rocker Back To The Rebels. The songs switch "style" almost from track to track, but the band does a decent job of keeping a consistent sound throughout the album.

A big component of that consistency is the fact that technically, this album is excellent. The Exit has been touring constantly since 2002, and it shows. The punk-tinged guitar plays perfectly off the rhythms laid down by the drums and bass, no one sound dominating any of the tracks. It certainly sounds like the band and producer Ron Saint-Germain (Sonic Youth, Bad Brains) found some chemistry while recording this record. I have no complaints on the vocal side of things either. I think I do prefer the songs with Jeff DaRosa on lead vocals (Don't Push, Back To The Rebels, So Leave Then), his voice has an appealing wrecklessness to it, but Ben Brewer is also a fine singer.

I guess the only complaint I'd have is in the songwriting department. Don't Push is an amazing song, but the first time I listened to it, the cringe-inducing line "kiss of death on your door, that's what you get for taking home a whore", stuck out like a sore thumb. Everyone hoping to be taken serious right now has to have an anti-war jam or two on their album, but not everyone can write an anti-war jam. The Exit takes a stab at anti-Iraq balladry with Solider, and while I'm digging the harmonica, the song falls flat for me. The advance copy of the album I received had a second anti war jam on it, Warm Summer Days, which was cheese-tacular (features the line "Yesterday near Fallujah, a suicide bomber nearly took me out", nuff said) but luckily it seems this jam isn't making the final cut of the album.

But I'm not complaining much, the album is such an engaging listen that weak songwriting in a few spots doesn't drag it down. Plus these guys are still pretty young, they'll figure the songwriting thing out as they mature. All in all I'd say The Exit have a solid album on their hands. I recommend checking it out.


TED LEO/PHARMACISTS - LIVE AT RICHARDS ON RICHARDS

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Album:Live @ Richards on Richards
Artist:Ted Leo/Pharmacists
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Ted Leo is one of those guys that seems to grow with you. I'm up over 30 now, been going to see Ted for over 5 years, and we seem to have a pretty solid relationship. I see him every 8 months or so, he doesn't call, but when he shows up, I have a good time. He and the Pharmacists are one of the few bands that I will still check out solo, and not once blink an eye.

This was my first visit to Richards on Richards, and the early show was a bit shocking. Doors @ 7 PM, show done by 10 PM. I quickly realized that it is a great idea. I HATE having to wait through shitty local bands, and see the acts I want to see at like 12:30. So I walked into the place at around 7:45, hoping to catch part but no all of the opening band's set. The best way to describe Richards on Richards is to take Donna, David, Steve-o and Brandon out of the Peach Pit after Dark, and add some alterna-hipsters. Good venue for a show though, nice stage, high enough that you can see the band.

Despite rolling in at 8, the opening act, the Parallels. I asume these guys were local, as a lot of the fans seemed to engage in banter with the band, and one of the band member's dad's was snapping photos and old-guy pogo-ing to their brand of surf punk/beach boys influenced music. I was into them for a few songs, but that was the reason I tried to slide in late. To me, any of these bands the draw on the Beach Boys are like the musical equivalent of the Rubix cube. Nerds LOVE them, and after engaging in it for fifteen minutes, my interest has peaked, one side is done, and I want to toss it away. I'll give these guys credit though, they have fun up there, and obviously enjoy playing live - the also obviously enjoy wearing thin suits - and as far as an opener playing before 8:30 PM on a Friday, we could have done a lot worse. Plus, the lead singer wore glasses, complete with the old hold-em on strap, so Naedoo would have loved him.

Ted and crew were up next. As the first few notes of Vein Illin escaped the speakers, the crowd knew it was going to be a good show. This is one of those songs written so long ago (The Tyranny of Distance: 2001) that is more appropriate now, after the bullshit wars the US has been fighting - "America bombs away". His political opinions add some depth to the high powered rockers he and the band play.

I realized Ted doesn't really have any songs I don't like. Obviously, I'd like to hear some more than others (Hearts of Oak, Ghost), but once he starts playing, he easily fills a set with rockers that I want to hear. Ted has been touring as a three piece (Dave on bass and Chris on drums) and the constant touring definetly added to the already great live show. The band plays well of each other, with Dave adding timely bass fills, and Chris attacking the skins like he was John Kanellakos at JJ's back in the day.

The set was high energy, low talking, and was filled with all the jams Ted Leo fans have come to expect (Where have all the rude boys gone?, 2nd Ave. 11AM, High party, Counting down the hours, Six months in a leaky boat, Little dawm me & mia, etc. etc. etc.), but I have to admit I still get the biggest charge out of Timorous Me. I've been listening to this song regularly for almost 5 years, adn every time I hear him play it, I still get hyped.

Seriously, any fan of the rocking - spend the 15 bucks. It will be the best 15 bucks you every spend (well, probably not, but you will get your duckets worth and more, and you will leave more than sufficiently rocked).



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