Ex Norwegian – Pure Gold

Pure-Gold-cover_RingMaster Review

There is always a sense of anticipation and indeed excitement when faced with a new release from US band Ex Norwegian, but in approaching their new album Pure Gold, there was a heavier sense of intrigue involved too. It was the first encounter since the serious illness which band founder Roger Houdaille suffered, the proceeds from the album going towards the emergency hospital bills incurred, and brings a collection of re-interpretations of tracks by other artists alongside original compositions from a new line-up to that which created the acclaimed and outstanding Wasted Lines album of 2014. So there was a wondering if the release was merely a filler in the future of the band but fair to say and straight away ears and imagination were alive whilst being immersed in the recognisable but ever unpredictable Ex Norwegian pop/indie rock sound, and the diversity of flavour that breeds to show it was anything but.

The creative union of Houdaille (vocals, guitars, keyboards, percussion), Giuseppe Rodriguez (vocals, bass, moog), Lucas Queiroz (vocals, guitars), Fernando Perdomo (drums, slide guitar), and Michelle Grand (vocals), with occasional guest organ prowess from Chris Price, tempt and grip ears straight away with album opener It’s A Game. A String Driven Thing song arguably made more famous by The Bay City Rollers, it quickly has feet in an eager shuffle and appetite licking lips with its catchy pop rock stroll. Ex Norwegian cast a vibrant energy to the song without losing its folkish charm whilst the great blend of vocals between Houdaille and Grand is almost flirtatious in its persuasion. There is also an Abba-esque hue to the great start to the release, though the fade-out is a touch annoying just to be picky.

Asking Too Much steps forward next and just as easily has attention enthralled with its melodic caresses and infectious persuasion as a healthy scent of Kirsty MacColl like folk pop flavours it. As the first, the song has a simplicity which is as inviting and enjoyable as the nuances and melodic enterprise the band inject into its design, the result another lively excuse to romp; a similar invitation given again by the feisty rock infused Beeside, a Tintern Abbey song. Sultry air and fuzzy breath soaks the song to great effect, whilst its psych rock character becomes increasingly compelling with each passing second and smouldering melody.

Already it is fair to say highlights are the order of the day so far, another provided straight away by the band’s impressive cover of the Melanie song Cyclone. Providing an inflamed melodic roar led by the superb tones of Grand, her harmonic expressive serenading ears as potently as the fiery side to her great voice, the track swiftly gets under the skin. It’s successor, the boisterous and show stealer On The Sidelines, is a match in such invasive potency, it playing like a feisty Martha and the Muffins but creating its own unique personality with every swinging rhythms, melodic temptation, and gripping hook. For us every Ex Norwegian album seems to have one song which especially hits the sweet spot, On The Sidelines that irresistible offering within Pure Gold.

A new wave essence fuels the following Other Half, a touch of Graham Parker to the song lighting up ears with a nostalgic bluesy air whilst the Paul McCartney track Keep Under Cover is given a virulent tonic of adventurous infectiousness and quite simply a tenacious fresh breath. Both tracks again leave body and emotions smiling and greedy for more, the album’s title track eager to satisfy with its mix of dark funky basslines, surf harmonies, and romancing melodic seduction. There is a less dramatic feel to the song compared to other tracks but with keys an emotive haze around the contagious lure of the bass and the lacing of spicy blues guitar, it is a robustly catchy proposal very easy to get fully involved with.

A fine take on the Jimmy Campbell song Close My Case And Move On comes next, Ex Norwegian accentuating its emotive heart and intimacy with a sturdier frame and tangy country rock colouring. A fascinating canter of a song with an element of pleasing discord to its nature too, it is maybe not as immediately impacting in comparison to the more boisterous approaches of other tracks within the album, but it matches all in persuasion before Shadow Ships and a version of Tell Me Your Plans by The Shirts brings things to an enjoyable close. The first of the pair merges Americana with sixties pop vibrancy, creating a richly satisfying if not fevered incitement; Tell Me Your Plans providing that with its again sixties hued interpretation of a great power pop offering.

From start to finish Pure Gold is a thoroughly engaging and highly enjoyable romp. It might not quite match the triumphant majesty of the band’s last album yet it is a different kind of proposition. For pleasure though, it is a rivalling success and reason enough to suggest Ex Norwegian is one of our brightest pop rock bands.

Pure Gold is released December 11th via Dippy Records @ http://shop.exnorwegian.com/album/pure-gold

http://www.exnorwegian.com     https://www.facebook.com/exnorwegian/     http://twitter.com/exnorwegian

Pete RingMaster 02/12/2015

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Ex Norwegian – Wasted Lines

Ex-Norwegian

It was with second album Sketch that US band Ex Norwegian reeled us in with their hook laden mix of power pop and indie rock. Subsequent releases and songs have only dug a little deeper into a keen appetite but with new adventure Wasted Lines, the Florida band has bound ears and passions like they were Houdini whilst ensuring there is no escape from their tempting bonds.

Every encounter from Ex Norwegian comes with a creative twist and pleasing unpredictability even within a distinct and wonderfully recognisable sound, and this time it is through the addition of vocalist Lucia Perez and her sixties pop touch seductive tones. Her voice adds a new warmth and cheeky lure to the intriguing drama of the songs, an additional colour igniting another real treat from the band. The album as a whole strangely shows a bigger gap between its delirious highs and lesser, a word used with tongue firmly in cheek, successes compared to previous triumphs, but emerges as the band’s most complete and riveting, not forgetting exhilarating release yet. Produced by band founder Roger Houdaille alongside Fernando Perdomo (Linda Perhacs), Wasted Lines is simply a radiant melodic rock captivation casting a perpetual spell over senses and imagination.

Formed in 2008 and grabbing their name from the one Monty Python sketch everyone knows, Ex Norwegian made their mark with debut album Standby of 2009 and the following Sketch that same year, though its initial release was followed by a break up in the band before being re-released in 2011 when the band was reformed by Houdaille. This was the trigger to stronger and broader attention with both House Music in 2012 and Crack a year later pushing the band into hungrier spotlights. As suggested though Wasted Lines is the new pinnacle of the band’s artistry and sound and as opening track CheepCheep alone toys with emotions, easy to expect the catalyst to major success.

The first song is swiftly stamping its rhythmic and riff wrapped feet with an almost glam rock swagger before being joined by great heavy basslines and the pop fuelled revelry of Perez’s voice. Ex-Norwegian coverThe song bounces around but with hints of an explosive nature which intermittently erupts with a raw and fuzzy blaze of guitar. Managing to be clean cut pop and dirty rock ‘n’ roll simultaneously, it is an infectious start to the album and a tasty appetiser for the following Be There and its sultry climate. Like a mix of Blood Red Shoes and Metric aligned to a great funk seeded, the track flickers and seduces like a fire. Its touch is hot and magnetic, especially with the alluring bedlamic mix of noises which frequent its body and the great contrasting moments seeing a union of vocals between Perez and Houdaille.

The lively croon of Much Rooms swings it’s tempting next; celestial vocals from Perez a siren-esque courting of the tangy hooks and dark throated basslines which fill the song. Its radiance makes way for the outstanding Unstoppable, a song which from a potent if understated start grows into a virulent addiction thanks to a chorus which flames like a pop version of Spinnerette. In many ways as punk as it is indie pop, the track glows in ears with a guitar solo bringing its own spicy coaxing to excite further a by now very greedy appetite.

The gentler, folk kissed caress of All The Time comes next, its rhythmic energy a sturdy spine through the melodic elegance around it whilst its successor First Time confidently strolls through a harsher but no less graceful landscape of melodic rock and ska glazed scenery. The latter is just a whisper but there in the swing of the increasingly enticing offering.

The smouldering croon and melodic balladry of You Could Be Someone brings strong satisfaction next as once more a sixties flavouring lies on the irresistible vocal tempting of Perez as well as the more incendiary surface of the guitars. Its heated embrace leads to the contagion of the glorious It’s Too Late, the best track upon Wasted Lines with a swing and character which excites like a pact between Late Cambrian and Kirsty MacColl. It’s enthralling feet and voice sparking romp is matched in favouring by Only The Clues, those comparisons and especially that of MacColl, an extra spice to the temptress like allure of another very fine persuasion.

The heavy and thick romance of Unfair to Compare starts the final breath of the album, it’s almost oppressive atmosphere a mystique loaded tantalising engulfing ears and immersing thoughts. It is an exotic and slightly imposing psychedelic adventure of idea and craft which seems to pass on its ethereal qualities to the harmony fuelled closing Love Is. Acoustically shaped and vocally coloured, the track is a beaming sunset to the album and one final enslaving incitement.

With every listen Wasted Lines as well as growing in sound and stature, reveals more underlying qualities and treasure within its depths. It is a blaze of imagination and uplifting sounds which all should contemplate blessing their days and nights with.

Wasted Lines is available now via Limited Fanfare Records as a CD Digipak limited to 200 @ http://limitedfanfare.bigcartel.com/product/ex-norwegian-wasted-lines and digitally and on standard Cd @ http://shop.exnorwegian.com/album/wasted-lines-deluxe-edition

http://www.exnorwegian.com/

RingMaster 09/01/2015

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

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