Unreal – The Best of Ex Norwegian
released September 20th
Lead Track: Making
F.F.O: Weezer; They Might be Giants; Sparks
“A love letter to classic rock ‘n’ roll-based pop” – Greg Healey, Shindig!
“I love it!” – Ian McCann, Record Collector
“Ex Norwegian is easily one of the best pop bands of all time…” – babysue Magazine
“…that special ability to shift gears from lofi to power rock without missing a beat.” Kim Becker, Liquid [Hip]
“…a highly evolved version of Weezer.” – Now This ROCKS!
Somehow, through cosmic forces and mystical hiccups, it’s entirely possible you’ve been missing out on one of music’s great treasures. Following a musical lineage of power pop greats from the 60’s and 70’s, as well as the unhinged genius of the likes of They Might Be Giants and Squeeze, they have spent the last ten years cultivating a rabid fanbase and critical acclaim from publications worldwide. Over 25 tracks (15 on the vinyl edition), Something Unreal is a monolithic slab of glorious hooks and Michelle Grand’s Debbie Harry-esque vocals trading blows with Roger Houdaille’s rabble-rousing tones – if this is the first time you’ve encountered them, a technicolour world awaits you.
Based in Miami Beach, Florida, Ex Norwegian (named, obviously, after the Monty Python sketch), Ex Norwegian have had an evolving cast of band members, with the odd exploding drummer and bassists lost at sea but throughout it all, prolific songwriter, Roger Houdaille has remained. Something Unreal features fan favourites, Life and Making Deals, by turns swirling psych tempests and grandiose anthemic glam hurricanes.
The band’s output of chiming,
melodic pop and rock gems began in 2008 with their album, Standby, at
the CMJ Festival in New York, immediately causing a stir and understandably
having countless genres thrown at them in the hope that one would stick:
“…an incredibly eclectic mix of power pop,
shoegaze, indie rock, and even hints of stoner rock” Dan Goldin, Exploding in Sound
The original power trio of Roger Houdaille, Nina Souto and Arturo Garcia split after the second record Sketch, released in early 2011; but by year end, Roger reassembled the band with original vocalist Michelle Grand and Brazilian guitarist Lucas Queiroz. This led to a third album House Music (2012), which featured guest drummer Eric Hernandez. Giuseppe Rodriguez joins just in time for a brief US tour and the 2013 follow-up, Crack, begins their association with the South Florida record label Limited Fanfare but tensions within the group led to a radical shift as evident on 2014’s ambitious Wasted Lines. Recorded in L.A. with co-producer Fernando Perdomo, the album’s surprise collaboration between the two old friends and guest lead vocalist Lucia Perez may have been a radical departure for long time loyal fans, but nevertheless managed to attract new listeners.
Things reverted back in 2015 when the group convened with Pure Gold, an inspired collection of obscure covers and a few originals. A tour quickly followed and Daytrotter recording session which gave a glimpse into the sound and material for the next record. Released in late 2016, Glazer/Hazerr is described as a “love letter to classic rock ‘n’ roll based pop” by UK’s Shindig Magazine. A low-key release, Tekstet (Subtitled) along with a 40-track covers album, Original Copies, quickly followed in 2017 leading up to 2018’s No Sleep. The ninth album, No Sleep, arguably took the band back to the beginning, crafting straightforward pop/rock songs with effective arrangements and quirky lyrics with strong melodies, with the main trio of Roger, Michelle and Giuseppe working collectively on it.