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Cd Review: The Ex – Singles. Period.

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If Washington made politics as interesting as The Ex, I’d be sitting in the White House waiting for my next assignment while listening to noisy and primal punk rock. Well, maybe.

Singles. Period. covers the first decade of the Dutch anarcho-socialist punk band, The Ex. Formed somewhere in Amsterdam sometime at the end of the seventies, their sound can be described as politically motivated noise with folk, jazz and ethnic music with flavors of industrial beats, rolling drums and screaming vocals provided by G.W. Sok. Previously unavailable in North America, all the songs on the compilation are 7″ singles from the band’s early years, 1980-1990.

The lyrics are blunt (“Guerilla-war is not for fun / The only way to get things done”- from ‘Weapons for El Salvador’), politically charged and will probably have the overly sensitive conservative right-wingers running for cover under their Bibles.

Presented to you in chronological order, it’s easy to hear the growth of the band with each single. “Human Car” starts off the comp with that amateurish sound that could be any teenage band except Sok sounds like he’s been doing it for years already.

“Stupid Americans” strikes the right (fuzzy) chord, in more ways than one, with their attack of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist views and searing lyrics – (“I hate them one for all / The only place like them is up against the wall”). Harsh.

As the songs go by, they seem to lose some of their primitive and raw sound and, some might say, become less interesting. But I think some of the best songs on the album are at the end, especially the fast-paced “Keep On Hoppin'”, the Brechtian-like “Lied Der Steinklopfer” and the hardcore/industrial beatings of “Stonestampers Song”, which isn’t something I normally enjoy, but I do this one.

Sometimes Sok’s vocals sound as if he’s shouting to be heard by people who might not be listening as well as they should be. We hear you, baby. We’re listening.

You can download “Weapons for El Salvador” here.

1. Human Car
2. Rock ‘n’ Roll-Stoel
3. Cells
4. Apathy Disease
5. Stupid Americans
6. Money
7. Curtains

8. Weapons for El Salvador
9. Dust
10. New Wars 2
11. Constitutional State
12. Gonna Rob the Sperm Bank
13. When Nothing Else Is Helpful Anymore
14. Memberships
15. Trash
16. Crap-Rap
17. Long Live The Aged
18. Enough Is Enough
19. Crap Rap
20. Contempt
21. Stonestampers Song
22. Lied der Steinklopfer
23. Keep On Hoppin’

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About Jennifer Best