An arcane indie rock band with dashes of alt-psych and powerpop from Miami Beach
are unlikely to be named after a Monty Python sketch, yet the musical collective Ex Norwegian indeed are. Their expansive ensemble’s effortlessly catchy songs span across a stream of DIY releases via various indie labels. Their large catalogue is due to the prolific songwriting of mainstay Roger Houdaille, who takes his influence from 60s & 70s music resulting in a wide range of styles – from retro slacker garage jams, to quirky, deconstructive pop songs – that liven up the punk clubs, university hangouts and coffee houses they play in while remaining somewhat elusive to the mainstream indie scene.
Launching at the 2008 CMJ Festival in NYC, the band was an instant buzz with their first single “Something Unreal” and debut album Standby, which was described as “…an incredibly eclectic mix of powerpop, shoegaze, indie rock, and even hints of stoner rock” by Dan Goldin of Exploding in Sound. The original power trio of Roger Houdaille, Nina Souto & 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 (of Wrong). Giuseppe Rodriguez joins just in time for a brief US tour. The 2013 follow up, Crack, begins their association with the South Florida record label Limited Fanfare (The Sh-Booms, Astronautalis & Rickolus), 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 (Linda Perhacs, Ken Sharp), the albums 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 takes the band back to the beginning, crafting straightforward pop/rock songs with effective arrangements and quirky lyrics with strong melodies. The main trio of Roger, Michelle & Giuseppe worked collectively on it.
Something Unreal: The Best of Ex Norwegian
Released on September 20th 2019 worldwide, this 25-track CD (15-track LP) collects some high points of Roger Houdaille’s 10 years making music with Ex Norwegian.