Ex Cops at 7th St. Entry, 2/28/13
Touring in support of their excellent 2013 release True Hallucinations, Brooklyn-based Ex Cops made their first appearance in Minneapolis last night, opening for Young Buffalo and Blessed Feathers, a pair of duos from Mississippi and Wisconsin respectively.
Ex Cops, once a duo itself, was formed in 2011 through the collaborative efforts of Brian Harding (vocals, guitar) and Amalie Bruun (vocals, keyboards). Over the past year, the band emerged from its bedroom-pop chrysalis, evolving into a vibrant five-piece rounded out by the addition of Kai Kennedy on lead guitar, Leif Young Huckman on bass, and Sam Bair on the drums.
True Hallucinations clocks in at just over 30 minutes. It's a refreshingly brisk album, and a notable first effort from a band with a bright future. With opening track "S&HSXX (intro)" and album low-point "Nico Beast" out of the mix, True Hallucinations hums, taking occasional breaks with a few beautifully hazy tracks that complement the record's more scorching moments.
Ex Cops raced through an eight-song, 25-minute set highlighting each of the pop genres that crowd their debut album. The set opened with the blistering rocker "Ken," an appropriate intro given the band's channeling of The Replacements video for "Bastards of Young" in their own video. The set closed with the equally raucous "James" and "Broken Chinese Chairz," songs that welcome countless comparisons of Ex Cops and their indie-rock predecessors.
Renditions of the atmospheric "Separator" and yearning "The Millionaire" stood out last night, defining what Harding describes as Ex Cops' "gothy pop" sound. These melancholic notes were offset by the comparatively lighter "You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb" and "Spring Break (Birthday Song)," the latter invoking The Beach Boys' "Merry Christmas, Baby." Maybe it's just me, but in my already time-honored tradition of comparing Ex Cops to other bands and referencing earlier songs, that's my volley. It's a silly one to be sure, but the similarities are there despite the seasonal incongruities. And hey, it's been a long winter... basking in Ex Cops' rosy glow on a cold February night was a welcome reminder that warmer days are ahead.
Personal Bias: The short set was perfect. I'm not sure that a trend is afoot, but more bands should consider editing their set lists.
The Crowd: Not a lot of people on hand to see this great opening act. Maybe 50 by a generous count. It's a safe bet that the crowd will be closer to 500 the next time Ex Cops roll through the Twin Cities.
Random Notebook Dump: A wish fulfilled -- the live "Broken Chinese Chairz" was an appreciated alternative to the album version which is compromised by the curious overlay of sirens and barking dogs on top of a rollicking drum breakdown. That trick worked to great effect on the Pet Shop Boys' "Suburbia" but it's a wasted effort on this occasion.
You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb
Spring Break (Birthday Song)
Broken Chinese Chairz