Ex-Breathers – ExBx

Ex-Breathers -ExBx

Tallahassee hardcore punk trio Ex-Breathers wrote ExBx with the idea of fitting as many ideas as they could within a single 7″ record. The result is twelve songs of blistering hardcore punk in eleven minutes. Stereogum,1 Exploding In Sound,2 and Invisible Oranges3 featured the album; which was a big deal for a band whom, as guitarist David Settle described, previously “relied on word-of-mouth and touring a lot”4 while self-releasing their work.

They deserve it. “Blistering” is a word thrown around quite a bit in punk rock criticism, but it’s appropriate with respect to ExBx. No silly three/four-chord repeats here: in less than a minute per track, Ex-Breathers craft highly complex chord progressions. They are musicians, not twentysomethings banging things really hard.5

Of note is the presence of bass; a personal peeve toward punk rock is production favoring mid-upper range at the expense of any low-note clarity. But Jack Vermillion’s bass work is an integral part of every Ex-Breathers song6, as on “Invisible Man” and “Stuck” – not to mention the interlude “Hang.” Without him, Ex-Breathers wouldn’t be Ex-Breathers. He gives ExBx a crusty edge that stands out among the plethora of hardcore punk bands on the East Coast.

Vermillion and Settle have strong yells; no screams here, but yells. Ones you can understand! They also have real, actual lyrics as opposed to the YAHYAHYAH that’s the plague of hardcore and crust punk. Topics include extremism, control issues, and smartphones. It’s a directness and lack of obfuscation that brings to mind the best of ’80s DC hardcore.

Interviews with the band hint toward a different direction on future releases, and that’s for the best. ExBx‘s twelve face-punch tracks are all one needs in this particular style. It’d be easy for it to get stale. That’s no fault of the band: ExBx deserves recognition for being a record where one needs nothing more than what has been given. Each track is a solid bit of hardcore punk that shows increasing promise of punk stardom, insofar as such a thing exists.

1. Big Hand – (0:38) – ★★★★☆
2. Want – (0:57) – ★★★★★
3. Pockets – (0:44) – ★★★★☆
4. Invisible Man – (0:44) – ★★★★★
5. Stuck – (0:53) – ★★★★☆
6. Hang – (1:41) – ★★★★☆
7. Off/On – (0:35) – ★★★★★
8. Flowers – (0:49) – ★★★★★
9. Void – (0:55) – ★★★★★
10. JC – (0:54) – ★★★★☆
11. Auto-Correct – (1:36) – ★★★★☆
12. Drop – (0:59) – ★★★☆☆

Overall: ★★★½☆

[UPDATE 26 April 2016: Changed the overall rating from four stars to three-and-a-half stars.]

1“Stream Ex-Breathers ExBx (Stereogum Premiere) – Stereogum,” Stereogum, accessed 25 February 2015, http://www.stereogum.com/1708631/stream-ex-breathers-exbx/tour-dates/
2“Exploding In Sound (delivering good rock music since 2008): EIS Review: Ex-Breathers “ExBx”,” Exploding In Sound, accessed 25 February 2015, http://www.explodinginsound.com/2014/10/eis-review-ex-breathers-exbx.html
3“Interview: Ex-Breathers,” Invisible Oranges, accessed 25 February 2015, http://www.invisibleoranges.com/2014/08/interview-ex-breathers/
6Made all the more impressive by the band’s live shows.


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