I have to say if there is one label in New Jersey that seems to be getting out there and making a difference, it’s Little Dickman. Little Dickman came upon the scene back in June of 2012, and they hit the ground running. Their bands and shows lit a fire under the music scene’s ass and they are now the cream of the crop, and so many great bands that have graced this page got their start and continued career with Little Dickman Records.
Having said that, Chris Yaniak, founder and head honcho for Little Dickman, has once again brought us his latest great score as only he and his team seem able to do. Hailing from New York City is Ex-Girlfriends.
As their bio states, “Ex-Girlfriends may only be a few months old, but don’t let that speak for their sound—precocious as hell and driven by raw desire, nothing (except maybe a hangover) is holding back these five badasses. Take the Spice Girls, add a little Brooklyn, some visceral vocals and glittery-gutsy lyrics, and you’ll begin to have an idea of what it’s like to see them play.”
Comprised of Tarra Thiessen (vocals and guitar), Heather Cousins (vocals and guitar), Christine Hill (bass), Crystal Nava (drums) and Monika Knapp (keys), Ex-Girlfriends have marked their new release with a tour that takes them from New York City all the way across the country, stopping in several states such as Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, and ending up in Washington state before starting their trek back across the country to wind up in Brooklyn’s own Barranquilla on March 31.
If I were to describe Ex-Girlfriends, it would probably be slightly different than what their bio describes. They have the fire of The Breeders and the moxie of Hole. They have the songwriting skills of Blondie and the visual blitzkrieg of The Runaways. Their songs are fast, under-three-minute nuggets of punkish glory. As musicians they hit the nail right on the head, providing creative bursts of energetic musical performance and lyrical rebellion.
Chris Yaniak over at Little Dickman recently sent me their new EP, You’re Next, and I wanted to go through it and give my humble opinion.
Up first is a song called “Why Aren’t You Stalking Me Anymore?” Combining all the bravado of Sleater-Kinney, Ex-Girlfriends blow into the speakers under the powerful vocal ministrations of Tarra Thiessen. Thiessen’s powerful pipes command attention and drive the band with style and a gutsy vocal tone that can’t be beaten. Christine Hill and Crystal Nava hold the tune firmly in their musical sensibilities, and it works wonderfully. Heather Cousins provides seamless vocal assists, and between her and Tarra the guitar work growls, wails and squirms straight into the listener’s brain.
“You’re Next” is up next. The EP’s namesake, “You’re Next” side winds into the speakers with tons of tremolo guitar and gritty rhythmic support. Not unlike a desert viper, the song makes its way across the aural soundscape with steady grinding progress. Trancelike and hypnotic as hell, this song shows the versatility of the group as songwriters as well. Constant riffage mixes with rock solid rhythm work as Thiessen moans, wails and screams her way into your heart. Lyrically speaking, Ex-Girlfriends come from an eerily strong direction of creative interpretation. At around 1:49 in the song all hell breaks loose as each band member races into a ferocious middle-eight of pent up cacophony and turmoil before returning to their theme at the song’s end. Great work and a terrific song.
“Stay” is a pop-based rocker in the vein of the Japanese band Stereopony. Melodic and quick, “Stay” gallops along at a good pace. Guitars, bass, drums and keys race alongside vocals and creates a great hook in the excellent chorus. Ex-Girlfriends aren’t reinventing the wheel here, and you can tell that their aim is good old fashioned fun and zero interest in artsy and avant garde bullshit. While “Stay” might not be a hit song, it is engaging and fun to bop along to, and that’s half the battle with any live audience in my book.
The last song on this woefully too compact disc is “Fa Fa Fa.” Probably my favorite song on the EP, “Fa Fa Fa” rocks in the artistic style of The Dead Boys and early Joan Jett. Choruses are once again pure and filled with simple lyrics. Guitar leads kick in and blaze through the bridge in the second chorus. I can tell that this stuff was recorded live and the musicianship of the band comes through in spades. Snarling, punk rock glory rears its beautiful head on this as well as the entire disc, and I can’t wait to hear this band in the area soon.
As mentioned earlier, this over-the-top band will be out on tour somewhere in the Midwest as of this writing. Ex-Girlfriends may be the new kids on the block, but I can guarantee you that they will soon be a bigger name than many around here and a phenomenal draw nationwide. If you get a chance, go pick up You’re Next online and see this band as soon as you can. I would bet you money that they will be worth the admission price.