Exbats - Now Where Were We LP - NEW GOLD VINYL REPRESS
REPRESS ON METALLIC GOLD VINYL!
New album from Daughter / Father pop band from Tucson, a huge hit at Gonerfest 18! Recorded by the desert genius Matt Rendon, this might be the best-sounding record of the year!
Timeless coming-of-age / smartass stories from drummer / songwriter Inez!
NEW! VIDEO FOR HEY NEW ZEALAND!
01 Coolsville USA (MP3)
02 Best Most Least Worst
03 Practice On Me
04 Best Kiss (MP3)
05 One Foot In The Light
06 Hey New Zealand
07 All The Lovers Do
08 Ghost In The Record Store
09 Drop The Rebound
10 Like A Son
11 I Don't Wanna Feel Dead
12 I Don't Trust Myself Around Jesus
“Every town’s got some old man in a mask…”
On Now Where Were We, the Exbats hit the ground running like a dystopian garage rock version of the Shangri-Las, or like a message to the future from the pre-Velvet Underground doo-wop wannabe Lou Reed. The album rings bright, like a beacon in the wilderness: eminently, effortlessly catchy, and loaded with buoyant choruses that rank alongside the best chart-toppers launched by the Brill Building or Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound.
But, like Charlie Manson lurking around a Beach Boys rehearsal, evil is at the door. This is 2021, after all, when headlines scream about pandemics, the perils of climate change, and a nation as politically divided as it was in 1865. The Exbats shy away from none of this. “Hey New Zealand,” a contemporary riff on the Mamas & the Papa’s “California Dreamin’” filtered through the Zombies’ “Time of the Season,” addresses looming ecological disaster. “I Don’t Wanna Feel Dead” and “One Foot in the Light” are steeped in the circumspect hope that, on our best days, epitomizes the vagaries of pandemic life. And the album’s opening track, “Coolsville USA,” is a jangly yet sinister guitar-pop ode to the friendship that exists between Scooby Doo and Shaggy Rogers.
“They are both scared, they are both being led around for who knows what reason, and [they’re] under constant attack,” guitarist and vocalist Kenny McClain says of the heroes of “Coolsville USA.” “They only understand each other. To the rest of their friends, one’s voice sounds indecipherable, but his friend understands it. Together, they kinda sorta unmask greed and villainous intent. It’s an important relationship in an unexpected place.”
Kenny and his daughter, vocalist and drummer Inez McClain, formed the nucleus of the Exbats over a decade ago, when Inez was just 10 years old; today, Bobby Carlson rounds out the group on bass. Despite their remote location in Bisbee, Arizona, just 11 miles north of the U.S.-Mexican border, the group quickly racked up accolades citing a wealth of influences that run from cartoon quintet the Archies to punk rock originators the Avengers, and from the so-sweet-it-hurts 1910 Fruitgum Company to Los Angeles antiheroes the Weirdos. Truthfully, the Exbats embrace a wider swath of musical styles, incorporating blue-eyed soul, tongue-in-cheek country, Brit pop, psych, and R&B into their sound.
Now Where Were We, the ExBats’ fourth album, to be released October 22 on the Memphis-based Goner Records, thematically describes the sensation of coming full circle having changed. “It’s oblique, but this is our pandemic record. It’s about taking a breath and figuring out where you are in your life; coming back to what feels important,” Kenny explains.
The McClains describe this album as “more ambitious” than its predecessors. While earlier records were recorded over a few days or weeks, Inez and Kenny wrote the 12 songs that comprise Now Where Were We over “like 40 Saturdays in a row.
The Exbats tooled 90 minutes northeast to Tucson to record, per usual, with Matt Rendon at Midtown Island Studios. “We record there because we like that he isn’t a real modern guy,” Kenny says. “The studio is reasonably close to home, and Matt has an encyclopedic knowledge of the type of music that influences our writing, namely mid-60s American pop, the type of stuff probably out of Western or Gold Star Studio—think Sonny and Cher, the Byrds, anything with the Wrecking Crew… There is no Logic or ProTools, no excessive use of technological tools, no pedals. We just rehearse and record to eight-track tape. We aren’t like Luddites, but the music and people we aspire to generally come from a different era in rock music. We would rather enjoy our imperfections than work on a screen to get things ‘perfect.’ We are not trying to be nostalgic or anti-now, we just think there’s room to still make records that end up sounding handmade, or that have a human factor. And we can explore this sort of analog daydream to our heart’s content with Matt as our engineer.”
Months later, the Exbats emerged with an album imbued with harmoniously cautious optimism—the musical equivalent but psychological antithesis to the Brian Wilson-Tony Asher masterpiece “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times.” While Wilson was looking for “a place to fit in,” the Exbats have found sanctuary via the brilliant “Ghost in the Record Store,” which is “for all of us who need the joy of a little bit of plastic making lots of noise.” The joyous self-actualization continues with the anthemic “Best Most Least Worst,” guaranteed to help the curmudgeon in all of us drag ourselves out of bed on the darkest of days, and “Practice on Me,” an inspiring memory of what it was like to crush hard on someone, pre-face mask era.
Like the best records to croon along with, Now Where Were We is captivatingly simple, yet hardly simplistic. The Exbats are singing from their hearts—and they aren’t afraid to bare their souls. “We’re an honest band, doing our best,” Kenny says. “Maybe listeners will feel like their ears are refreshed and ready for more noise from the world, or maybe they’ll feel like they found a new friend that isn’t remote or shrouded by commercial intentions. Maybe some of these songs will get stuck in their heads. We hope they smile and sing along.”