Share COMING BEFORE THE NEXT ONE - The Ex-Boyfriends (Appropriate Records)
PAINLESS BLEEDING - The Ex-Boyfriends (Catch And Release Recording Collective)

Their most recent "To The Lowest Bidder" album is a killer and its 2007 precursor is in the same class. "Coming Before The Next One" has 11 tracks that ooze so much energy and so many sharply-honed riffs that you have to ask why The Ex-Boyfriends aren't household names.

Let's make a big sweeping statement and say this is The EBFs' Richard Hell album. Hell fans will pick up on the striking similarity in Djewel Davidson's vocals. All he lacks are the yelps.

If the quavering "Spanked By Lightning" and the ferocious "Chinese New Year In Vancouver" don't convince, the cover of "I Can Only Give You Everything" (also done by the Voidoids) will push doubters over the line. The EBFs' version is much more restrained and lilting, but Michael Paton's elevator solo puts it on level-pegging for intensity. It's not as fractured as Quine but The Great Man would undoubtedly approve.

This is Davidson and Patton's band so it's no surprise they dominate the songwriting. It leans to punky-pop with some clever arrangements and confident playing.

These boys know their ingredients. There's a dash of Cheetah Chrome in the trills of "Drowning In Shallow Days. "Use The City" stutters to a start in the best "New Rose"/Brian James-style. The mid-album slowie, "Special Occasions", sounds like Richard Hell fronting the Chilli Peppers.

Paton's biggest moment lies in 4min33s closer, "Becoming An Angel". His chording builds a ladder into the song which ends in glorious extended soloing that Richard Lloyd wouldn't feel unhappy to have laid down.

First one last and the 2003 EP "Painless Bleeding" shows The nascent EBFs with Davidson, Paton and first album bassist Glynnis Ewashed in place but drums shared by Chris Faulkner and Tom Atkinson (in the best Spinal Tap traditions.)

This is a band still finding its feet. Three of the songs are written with external collaborators. "Painless Bleeding" isn't as cocksure or the hooks as sharp as the recordings that have followed.

It's still noteworthy, especially for Paton's playing on "Longer Than Your Memory". "As Far As Yesterday" is my other favourite, with what sounds like a (probably) unconscious nod to Chris Bailey's "Monkey Puzzle"-era Saints. - The Barman

2/3
- Coming After The Next One



- Painless Bleeding

 

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TO THE LOWEST BIDDER - The Ex-Boyfriends (Cash-Fork Records)
A few tracks in with a rare but stinging hangover on a Sunday morning and the first erudite (or vaguely human) comment that fell out was: "Fucking hell, this is pretty good." Months later the hangover's long gone but the opinion is still around.

The only thing chunkier than the two slices of black vinyl that this double album comes on is the chord-work of guitarist Michael Paton. The Ex-Boyfriends play raucous and ragged guitar rock-pop with a serrated edge that'll convince you the still beating heart of rock and roll has been temporarily airlifted from Spain and dropped off in Calgary, Canada. It's ballsy, not twee indie pop stuff. In short, these Ex-Boyfriends rock and if you ever catch any of them gazing at their shoes it'll be momentary and down to the simple fact that their laces are undone.

Vocalist Djewel Davidson and Paton are at the core of the Ex-Boyfriends. Davidson was apparently the snotty singer for Canuck art-punks The Will, and hooked up with Paton when the latter moved on from a well-regarded crew called The Puritans. They're an inspired songwriting team who aren't afraid to throw handclaps and occasional horns or piano into arrangements.

Davidson's voice sounds like powerpop-era Stiv Bators crossed with Johnny Thunders, with a whiny and effectively nagging delivery that only occasionally misses the mark. If things get a little off key on the Fleshtones-like "In Revolution Clothes" or "What Good's a Broken Butterfly", it's somehow not a problem. The band itself sounds like a super-charged Flamin' Groovies. That's praise not lightly given.

To say Michael Paton is an inventive guitarist is like saying Steven Hawking is pretty brainy. Paton spends his time peeling off sharp lead-breaks and apparently effortless rhythm chords with equal ease. The guy has a liking for spiky slide guitar too.

Nothing wrong with this engine room either. Bassist Chris Milne has a melodious playing style that suits the songs And the drummer - a big bloke with a beard - is named Dean Martin. He's a teetotaller for all I know, but that still amuses my small mind. So mix me a drink, old boy!

There are a few moments that sum up this album for me (yours may differ) and one of them is the ball of rumbling feedback and dissonance in the epic "(Gotta) Justify You More (Than I Do Myself)" with Paton and Davidson going toe-to-toe. Similarly, "Disturbulence" rolls into earshot with a snarl and hammers home its point with a wall of potent Rock Action.

It's doubtful either party has heard of the other but "The Secret Immortality" with its finely string guitar and martial beat sounds like a song by Aussie underground faves Eddy Current Suppression Ring.

There are 16 songs here which begs the question, When Is Too Much Good Music Too Much of a Good Thing? You usually get a dozen on a CD. The almost forgotten experience of getting up after four songs and changing the LP side forces you to pay attention - not that you need much prompting with songs as good as "Tornado Overcoat".

I'm not going to pretend "To The Lowest Bidder" is perfect but it's too damn good to be relegated to the ranks of the also-rans. This is more mre than notch above 95 percent of today's guitar rock crew. The black vinyl stuff doesn't play well in the car but there's a download card in the LP that came in handy.

2/3

 

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