REQUIRED LISTENING: Ex Hex — Rips 8.5

EX-HEX

Ex Hex
Rips
Merge

Often credited as co-founder of the late-80s riot grrrl movement, Mary (riot mothrrr?) Timony debuted her inimitable cool and underground ethos as a teenager in Washington DC’s vaunted hardcore scene and eventually went on to front two critically-worshiped bands — Helium, in the 1990s, and more recently, Wild Flag, with fellow punk chicks and ex-Sleater-Kinneys Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. Her four solo albums have added to her reputation as one of indie rock’s most inventive and respected figures. Lately, she’s been rocking a brand new band, Ex Hex, and the shit is getting real again. Alongside bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris, the band’s debut Rips provides 35 feverish minutes of lo-fi, power-punk, crossing lines that Cheap Trick and the Runaways might have crossed a couple decades ago, and doing so with irrepressible confidence and lockstep chemistry.

These songs have hooks. The hooks have hooks. Timony throws her ‘65 Jazzmaster into grooves and solos that seem impossibly perfect. This is the truth: I’ve been hearing the chorus from “How You Got That Girl” everywhere I go. It haunts me. “New Kid” has this wiggly guitar lead that you fall in love with before you’re even finished hearing it for the first time. You then find yourself whistling it during staff meetings. Timony has not always been too terribly concerned with the public’s reaction to her music, yet with Rips, great care has obviously been taken to draw us all in.

“War Paint,” “Everywhere,” “Don’t Wanna Lose” — I have difficulty understanding how songs these brilliant didn’t make it onto that Wild Flag album, which was a good record, but not like this. This record is really good. Do yourselves a favor and find out why every single music person I know is losing their mind over it. —Andrew Watson

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