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November 30, 2014 / bloggenstatt

E is for The Exploding Hearts, Eels and Ex Hex. E is not for Eddy Grant,

There have not been a lot of great bands with names beginning with the letter E. I’m not a huge Eric Clapton fan, Emerson Lake and Paler bore me, I’m a much bigger fan of Jeff Lynne’s production than his work with Electric Light Orchestra, and I appreciate Eric B. & Rakim for what they did to advance Hip-Hop, but they aren’t in my regular rotation.

Still, I came up with an overlooked power pop band, some long-time indie weirdos and my favorite album of 2014 to represent the fifth letter of the alphabet.

The Exploding Hearts: The Exploding Hearts only released one album, Guitar Romantic, before an accident claimed the lives of three of the four bad members, but that lone album is incredible. The hype surround The Exploding Hearts was that this band could do for power pop what the White Stripes were able to do for garage rock–resuscitate a dying music genre while creating genre-defining pieces of music. Listening to Guitar Romantic, it’s pretty easy to hear why expectations were so high. The album sounds so much better than anything produce by a quartet of early 20-somethings should sound. Everything is polished and every song has at least two hooks that will bounce around the inside of your skull for weeks. If you appreciate a good melody, quality guitar work and just the right amount of sneer, this record is an under-appreciated classic.

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The Eels: The Eels have been making music since the mid ’90s. They’re essentially a cast of rotating members with Mark Oliver Everett, AKA E, as the only constant. Everett tends to lean toward making a sort of spacey, sad-bastard slacker rock. However, he’s a proficient sad bastard, and The Eels have put out 11 proper albums to join Everett’s solo efforts. At least half of them are worth hearing, and a few, especially 1998’s Electro-Shock Therapy, are great.

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Ex Hex: Ex Hex are fronted by Mary Timony and share a name with her third solo record. Ex Hex are responsible for my favorite album of 2014, Rips. It rocks in a way that is totally mindless, but deceptively cerebral and calculated. A lot of thought and work clearly went into making songs that sound as lean and move as fast as “New Kid” and “Don’t Wanna Lose”. The music is an amalgamation of ’70s radio rock, punk, garage rock and power pop, and it never sounds anything less than catchy or exciting.

Eddy Grant is another holdover from the ’80s one-hit wonder CD. “Electric Avenue” is a terrible song.

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