Eksi Ekso

Brown Shark Red Lion

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On Eksi Ekso's third album, the Boston-based group continues to explore what it is to be a rock band while trying to avoid a fair amount of what rock is supposed to be -- no bad thing, really, considering a lot of what does pass for experimentation under the name. "Carte de Visite" demonstrates early on how well the band explores the possibilities of mood, creating a kind of rumbling funk with stark edges, not indie as such though getting in a bit more in the way of feedback crunch toward the end of the song. The piano's prominence gives a sense of how this blends band-driven theatrics with something more, further elaborated by Tom Korkidis' deep-voiced approach. The title track also provides more in its slow, waltz-time swing at the start, with dramatic guitar parts that are somewhat more conventional in sound and impact, but only just, while "West of Rize" is one of the best examples throughout at how good the group is at creating introductions, in this case a big guitar twang and rhythmic punch. (The horns and strings starting "Black Sea Accomplice" would also count for their favor there.) Yet ultimately the album is not riff-centered at all, finding an unstable, often surprising energy in exchange for the "obvious" approach. The sometimes awkward power on "Rein, White Sun" is one of the best on the album -- when said power fully clicks together for the group, it's breathtaking -- while the stomp, slow descending piano, and steady harmonies of "Traitor Traitor" help show this often confounding band at its best.

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