Join The Mylene Mailing List
A monthly e-mail newsletter of all things Sheath.
"Brown Shark, Red Lion is the most interesting and challenging pop album I’ve heard so far this year..." — My Old Kentucky Blog
"Eksi Ekso soars, slashes, and burns and chimes again on its sophomore full-length, Brown Shark, Red Lion..." — Boston Globe
"a near-perfect synthesis of the band’s ambitious statement of intent and secret love of pop..." — Consequence of Sound
"when said power fully clicks together for the group, it's breathtaking..." — All Music Guide
"with an album this beautifully written, not to mention wonderfully packaged, pressing play again should be no problem at all..." — Treble Magazine
Sean Will: keys/brass/samples
Alex Mihm: drums
“Addition by subtraction” is a cliché often quoted by the unoriginal (as well as the mathematically-impaired) that nonetheless offers a fair assessment of Eksi Ekso— a band that has gone from six to three full-time members and still somehow expanded its sound by refining it.
When writing began for the follow-up to 2008’s I Am Your Bastard Wings, the three current members of Eksi Ekso: Tom Korkidis (vocals, guitar, bass, keys), Alex Mihm (drums, loops, percussion), and Sean Will (keys, synths, trumpet, samples), found themselves increasingly constrained by the inertia of a large band seemingly doomed to stay within its post-rock tendencies. As the three spent more time working together, it became clear they had a very real momentum with myriad ideas that would never survive the democratic process of a six-piece group. If it sounded good, it stayed, with any concerns of conforming to some pre-existing musical identity being summarily dismissed. Eventually, the split was obvious and the other members left amicably, with one (Beth Holub, viola) remaining in a collaborative role.
The band’s newest record, 2011’s Brown Shark, Red Lion, shows a band comfortable exploring areas of orchestral pop, synth-soaked dance, and hard-hitting rock in ways that can appeal to the crowd who just want a catchy vocal line as well as the kids who go to the front of the stage to see what’s in a band’s pedal boards. The vocals are memorable and well-arranged, the melodic instruments make hooks out of refreshingly atypical chords and melodies, the rhythm section pummels with a deft blend of creativity and back-beat. Strings and brass are not haphazard novelties that show up when the band runs out of ideas; they propel the song when need be or billow beneath the din when subtlety is best.
The record was tracked in various New England studios, mixed by the esteemed and darling Scott Solter (John Vanderslice, Spoon, Pattern is Movement), and mastered by Dave McNair of Sterling Sound in New York. The end result is a departure from contemporaries’ “I know a guy with Pro Tools” approach to recording.
So is this band just a bunch of aural high-horse pioneers and music-math wizards? Yes! Er, I mean… No. While the band is never content to rehash rock traditions and does not shy away from deviant instrumentation or the occasional odd time signature, none of the exploration is ever done for the sake of being different or self-aggrandizement. It is simply done for the sake of the song. The wide range of influences emerges maturely— no funk verse followed by a heavy metal chorus, or exercises in instructional video wanker-dom. This is rock written for discerning ears, played by gents who know their instruments but have no jaded illusions about what makes music fun: hooks and a good feel.