So a new year and a new Ex Norwegian album “Crack” or the difficult fourth album, came out of nowhere in a week of diligent work. It was picked up by Limited Fanfare Records who put it out April second digitally, and it features some leftover tracks and some new things which really were tweaked up demos.
Ex Norwegian was founded in 2008 in Miami Beach by Roger Houdaille, disbanded in March 2011, and restarted by Houdaille in late 2011. Founding members Roger Houdaille (guitar, vocals) and Michelle Grand (vocals) are joined by Giuseppe Rodriguez (bass) to make up the core of the group. Live, they are augmented with a little help from their friends.
“Your Own Swing” starts the proceedings with an upbeat and catchy guitar filled rocking pop song that has a bit of a nice edge to it and I loved the harmonious vocals. “Bibi Kan Werk It” has a lot of WEEZER overtones, especially in the vocals, and this mid-paced song also had a mid ‘90s sound, but it threw me for a loop when just over two minutes in, the song had a slowing down effect like when you stop a turntable that made me check my player. “Aventura” has soaring guitar playing with great leads, it’s kind of like a classic rock song with more pop and a hint of ‘70s keyboards that work together really well and is a highlight on the album. “I’m A Fighter, Not A Lover” has Grand taking over lead vocals and she has a fantastic voice, it has a sweetness that gives the song a new level of energy, the drumming and guitar playing really were outstanding on this song as well. “Page To” is a slower song that has some of the most inspired guitar playing on the album.
The band really shows that they are capable of taking these tweaked up demos and giving them a life that just breathes and grows and has the maturity of a band that knows how to treat them. The playing has been stellar and the production has been clear, but not antiseptic, it still has a bit of a roughness and it keeps the pop from being sugary. “Say What You Want” is a very peppy and rocking duet that deserves to be played to death. “Some Misery” brings the feel and sound of the classics ‘70s power pop bands to mind and the memorable hook will keep you coming back for more, it was my favorite on the album. “The Faces Demo Heads” has an incessant beat and is a song that will get stuck in your head.
Sometimes you get music sent to you that you hate, sometimes like, but I got lucky, I love this album. They really hit all of the buttons to make an outstanding album without caving in to anything trendy, but kept things at their own standards and made an album that needs to be in your collection.