Local Wire

The Ex

After a quarter-century of showing so-called punks what it really means to be radical, Dutch cult favorites the Ex still have a lot to say. Combining full-throttle aggression with well-crafted arrangements and brazen experimentalism, the group's latest two-CD set is variously witty and didactic, earnest and ironic, poetic, political, and so original that no genre can name its vision. From "Getatchew," a brooding instrumental homage to little-known Ethiopian free-jazz pioneer Getatchew Mekurya, to "Huriyet," an authentic-feeling update on a gorgeous Eritrean freedom song, the Ex's range is global -- and deeply musical. The band's mix of noisy electric guitars, melodic acoustic bass, martial drumbeats, and bullhorn vocals is one-of-a-kind agitpop. Lyrically, the Ex is also in a class of its own. Among the many memorable rants on Turn, "Listen to the Painters" is the best, as singer G.W. Sok inveighs against "The shrub who took himself for a park/ The squeak who took himself for a bark." This is rebelpunk'sfinesthour.
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Sam Prestianni