Ex Hex are back with a rockin' new album. It's Real drops on Merge Records on Friday and it's such a thorough riff-monster that I'm sorta expecting this one to go through the roof like Pyromania or something. While other bands might dabble in Eighties-style hooks ironically, Ex Hex -- Mary Timony, Betsy Wright, and Laura Harris -- grab this stuff and run with it wholeheartedly.
Lead single "Tough Enough" sounds like the sort of thing that might play under a training montage in a Karate Kid or Rocky sequel, while the brisk "Rainbow Shiner" stomps with a real Dio-worthy sense of how to structure a jam. It's a song that's nearly elegant in its melding of a few disparate styles...and it reminds me of "The Last in Line" just enough to make me entirely love it. Elsewhere, "Cosmic Cave" bops with a mix of abandon and New Wave intent, while the more supple "Radiate" serves up the kind of power-pop one once could easily find on the airwaves of college radio some decades ago. This is not to imply that Ex Hex are buried in Eighties references here but, rather to suggest that they are writing material that sits nicely next to classic compositions from artists as disparate as Tommy Keene and Joan Jett.
It's Real, engineered by J. Robbins (Jawbox), sees this trio really take command of whatever genre this is going to be called in the future by other music writers. It's punchy, and thoroughly catchy, blending, with a real ease, swatches of punk and hair metal. If Ex Hex are breaking any new ground here, it's ground of territory they've sort of discovered and claimed as their own.
It's Real is likely going to be the most listenable thing released in 2019, and I would not trust any music fan who didn't find something to love here. It's Real is out on Friday via Merge Records.
More details on Ex Hex via the band's official Facebook page.
[Photo: Ex Hex at Black Cat in 2018 by me]