Exitmusic is a dream-pop quartet from Brooklyn who just released their debut album this spring. The band is built around the husband-and-wife pair of Devon Church, who is a native Winnipegger, and New York native Aleksa Palladino. Palladino’s mother was an opera singer and her grandparents were painters. It wasn’t, she says, a question of whether she would be in the arts. It was only a question of which art would be hers. To be safe, she took up acting and also started writing songs by the time she was in her teens. Although she didn’t become a huge star, she had a couple of “above the title” roles before she turned 18, including one where she starred opposite a pre-teen Scarlett Johansson.
Around this time, Palladino met Church while the two were riding a train across Canada. As if meeting one’s future spouse on a train voyage isn’t cinematic enough, the story goes that they met in the smoking car. And if that isn’t cinematic enough, the story goes on that they planned to meet in the train’s observation car to watch a meteor shower. And if THAT still isn’t cinematic enough, the story goes that they botched the meeting, missing the meteor shower. That was supposed to be the moment. Right? No. They parted ways, and exchanged a bunch of love letters. One day, Church just showed up in New York. They started the proper romance, which would eventually become a marriage. There’s your movie, starring Shannyn Sossamon and Elijah Wood.
A few years later, they moved to Los Angeles in the hopes that Palladino would get her big break in the movies. They got married in 2008, they self-released an EP, and she hadn’t gotten that “break” yet. A couple of minor roles in direct-to-video films. Two episodes of The Sopranos. Two episodes of Law & Order. A couple of other teevee one-offs. She had a major-minor role in Sydney Lumet’s final movie “Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead”, and that may have helped her get her “big break”. That break, ironically, brought her back to New York City. She got a regular role (Angela Darmody) on the smash HBO series “Boardwalk Empire”.
Back in New York, they turned the band from a duo to the four-piece that it is now, and they focused on making the band better. Finally, after getting a lot of favorable reviews for their EPs and their live shows, they released their debut — Passage— on May 22 of this year.
A few weeks ago, one of my Music Geek buddies sent an email to the group saying that Passage was already locked in as one of his top five records of 2012. He went on to explain, using words that appeal to me (Antlers, Sigur Rós, The XX) why the rest of us might also like it. For some reason, I ignored that. At some point over my “weekend” I was trying to figure out my plan of action for the Hopscotch Festival in September, and I saw their name again on Thursday’s schedule. After finally investigating, I feel like a fool for ignoring my friend’s “It’s only July, but I’m writing this in as one of my favorite records of the year. In ink” missive. Okay, that quote isn’t his. I made it up, but I wanted it to be more dramatic.
Anyway, I really like the album in a Zola Jesus, Tamaryn, Warpaint, School of Seven Bells kind of way. While all of that stuff goes back to Cocteau Twins, I think that it would be unfair to say that Exitmusic “sounds like Cocteau Twins”.
Without getting too far into a meta-thing, I’ll just present today’s song.
“White Noise” by Exitmusic
This is one of those songs that I just can’t listen to once. It’s the fourth song on the 11-song album, and I wonder if I’ve ever made it past track 8 before turning back to 4.
One of my favorite bits of the song … okay, probably my absolute favorite bit is at 1:13 when the drums really kick in. That bit, when everything swells and the drums go from being like a slow, lazy creek to a roaring rapid. Because of the big swell and the drums crashing in, it reminds me quite a bit of Explosions in The Sky. (I’m stunned to learn, by the way, that I haven’t written about EITS yet. I would have sworn that I had.) That’s certainly a bright, triumphant bit of the song, and it does it again for the second chorus at 2:46. However, it’s not a song about triumph. It’s a bout self-doubt. At least that’s how I read it.
I also love the last 30 seconds of the song, when there’s a lot of tape effects. It’s all warped and warbly. And awesome. That bit reminds me of the first side of Loveless. I’m no expert, but I think that the “warped and warbly” sound is what the song is supposed to “feel like”.
I don’t know. You tell me.
If you live in the area, be sure to catch Exitmusic at the Hopscotch Music Festival in Raleigh this September. Three nights, nearly 200 bands. They’ll be headlining King’s Barcade, playing at 12:30 on the night of Thursday September 6. For a day-by-day schedule, go here. UPDATE!! (August 30) Via the band’s twitter account, Exitmusic has canceled their show at Hopscotch, as well as two others. Boardwalk Empire is to blame.
Buy a physical copy of Passage from the Secretly Canadian web shop.