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LIVE REPORT: Ex Hex
Julian Marszalek , February 13th, 2015 13:30

Julian Marzsalek heads down to Oslo in London where he is seduced by hooks, fun and distilled rock & roll

Photo by Wunmi Onibudo

With rock & roll now having reached a pensionable age, the real question is how the hell does a band does a band manage to avoid falling into cliché while busting so many moves that should it mark it down? After all, here is power pop trio Ex Hex, who deliver blistering buzzsaw solos as singer-guitarist Mary Timony falls to her knees, while elsewhere, bassist Betsy Wright frequently arches her back, wields her instrument at 45 degrees and rests her foot on the monitor with a lip curling sneer etched across her face.

The answer is quite simple – Ex Hex makes playing in a band look like the coolest thing you could ever do. Along with drummer Laura Harris, this Washington DC three-piece looks like the kind of people that you want to hang out with and make mischief. Crucially, given Timony's pedigree with the likes of Helium, Autoclave and as part of Wild Flag with Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, this isn't a case of a frontwoman with a chronic LSD problem – that's Lead Singer Disease and not Albert Hoffmann's scientific contribution – treating the rest of the group like a backing band, but a cohesive and dynamic unit that bounces and feeds off of each other. Timony, Wright and Harris frequently exchange looks of encouragement as they egg each other on and casually laugh off the occasional bum note like the inconsequence that is. But most importantly of all, Ex Hex are having so much fun on stage that only a churl would fail to be seduced.

Of course, all of this would count for naught were it not for the music that's a brilliant distillation of rock & roll's finest moments. Packed with more hooks than a butcher's shop and peppered with a high volume of "Yeah yeahs" and "Whoah whoahs" than is probably good for you and all wrapped up in sugar sweet melodies, Ex Hex are a joyous package. 'Don't Wanna Lose' kicks off the gig in fine style but it's when Timony turns up her up for added fuzz and crunch that the gears are shifted up. 'How You Got That Girl' is utterly glorious as those nagging dampened chords give way to uplifting arpeggios, a soaring chorus and searing blast of riff-laden soloing all underpinned by a water tight rhythm section. Similarly, 'Radio On' explodes in a miasma of all your favourite colours and their cover of Johnny Thunders' 'You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory' is a respectful nod to one of the many places where they're coming from.

Sun-kissed music played in a filthy winter, Ex Hex go a long way to show that girls – and indeed boys – just wanna have fun. And there ain't nothing wrong with that.

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