The Exies – Head For the Door
Virgin Records (2004)
By Graham Isaac
Prior to hearing their latest record, Head For the Door, I was only vaguely aware of The Exies‘ existence via a video that had a short run on MTV2 for the song “My Goddess.” If I remember right, the song was workably catchy, but all in all they came off like a skater version of Stone Temple Pilots and I soon forgot about them.
Now, however, I remember.
Trying to exactly pinpoint these guys’ sound is like searching for a needle in a stack of needles; it’s so overwhelmingly familiar and faceless that it’s almost comforting. The Exies are that band. You know the one. The one you hear coming from a passing truck and think “ah, he likes mainstream rock music,” the loud-but not-metal band playing in the preview for the action movie, even the power ballad you hear on the WB and think it might be 3 Doors Down, but know it’s not because your cousin forced you to listen to the whole CD last summer.
I was going to write that they sound like something out of Seattle circa 1992, but that’s both too specific and too complimentary, and not even really very accurate. Maybe more like something out of L.A., circa 1995, or Florida circa 1999. Think Puddle of Mudd without quite the same Kurt fetish, you’ve got an idea. Think Staind minus the diary-entry personal touches or occasional metal influence, you’ve got another idea. Think every major label band who profess to both classic rock and alt-rock influences but don’t really sound like either, despite peppering their choruses with “heeyyyy!” Getting an idea?
To be fair, there are moments here that hard rock fans could try to eke some guilty pleasure out of; the verses to album opener “Slow Drain” achieve a base level groove that, while highly derivative, belies the album’s dullness. Fortunately for truth in advertising, the chorus sounds like 90 percent of the rest of the album, with its Big Rock note-holding. Like, hey, guys – you obviously are about the Rock, why ya gotta puss out on every single chorus, hmmm? Oh, right. Major label. It’s the faux-epic choruses that kill even the most rote rock-out impulses and drain any life from these songs.
I could go on– there’s even a power ballad co-written by their producer Nick Raskulinecz (natch) that’ll doubtlessly be the single when whichever generic-doesn’t-rock track fails to catch on. Or maybe these guys are already big and I wasn’t aware. Maybe I just mistook them for another crappy band and forgot – it’s easy to do. – (1.5/10)
Note: The Exies play Seattle’s Showbox Theater April 5 with Theory of a Dead Man and Breaking Benjamin.