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Ex Models/The Seconds - Ex Models/The Seconds

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Artist: Ex Models/The Seconds

Album: Ex Models/The Seconds

Label: My Pal God

Review date: Jun. 23, 2002

About a month ago, I saw the Ex Models and the Seconds play to about 25 people in a dive in Richmond, Virginia. Both bands (there's almost no need to consider the two groups separately, since they share members and seem to act more like a collective than as distinct entities) played short, fast, sarcastic songs that split the difference between Melt Banana's hyper, ultra-complex angularity and the nasty almost-catchiness of the Monorchid and Drive Like Jehu. In the Ex Models' first song, one of their guitarists jumped into the crowd, knocked a guy's brew out of his hand, and then hit my friend in the face with his instrument. The band members spent the rest of the set intentionally slipping and sliding around in the beer they'd spilled on the floor.

Normally, I would've found this sort of anti-social behavior (just try knocking over someone's beer if you're not in the band and see what happens) trite and annoying. But it made sense when the Ex Models did it because, in some highly subjective way, their music actually sounds anti-social – it spews ideas out quickly and loudly, jumbles them, then moves on to five others before you've even figured out what the first was about. If the Ex Models' and the Seconds' music were a person, his behavior would be unpredictable, and he'd be really hard to talk to. So if beer spills, it just feels like a natural extension of what's going on in the music, not a stylized rock move.

This five-minute split single leans strongly over the Melt Banana side of the two groups' fence rather than the Monorchid/Drive Like Jehu side, dispensing with the puzzling half-hooks that were part of what made both bands compelling live. There's still plenty of enjoyable, stuttering weirdness here, though. The Ex Models begin the EP with "U Got What I Need (Shake)," a thirty-second shocker propelled by a fast, fish-out-of-water blues riff and overdubbed yelping. "3 Weeks" follows with asymmetrical, ultra-short bass and drum hits and wall-of-noise slide guitar. The Seconds' "Mommy Mommy Mommy," featuring two consonant-challenged vocalists, jitters like a funkless Minutemen. Of the four brief songs here, only the Seconds' simple throwaway "Better Suit" falls flat.

I do wish the catchier side of the two bands were present-- I want to hear those three or four notes per song that fall into place perfectly. But for the most part, the Ex Models and the Seconds get by pretty well by letting their bouncing-off-the-walls hyperactivity and unpredictability – the same qualities that allow them to spill beer and hit people with guitars without seeming ridiculous – carry them.

By Charlie Wilmoth

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