If Ex-Cult's sophomore album, 2014's Midnight Passenger, sounded like a decisive step forward from their self-titled debut, this EP feels more like a stopgap; the six-song Cigarette Machine makes it clear that Ex-Cult have lost no ground, but it also doesn't push their garage-psych fury into any new or unexpected directions they haven't already explored. But if Cigarette Machine is just a short-form reminder of how good this band can be, on those terms it's a roaring success, with the band sounding just tight enough to hit at full impact while staying loose enough to make the most of J.B. Horrell and Alec McIntyre's howling tag-team guitars. New bassist Frankie Teardrop and drummer Michael Peery are a killer rhythm section -- precise, muscular, and tireless -- and the passionate, bad-attitude blast of Chris Shaw's vocals is just the right garnish for this noisy, roiling banquet. And while most of these tunes are short, sharp, and admirably focused, it speaks well of Ex-Cult's ability to jam that the two longest tracks (the 5:47 title tune and the 4:47 closer "Your Mask") are ultimately the most satisfying, as the musicians go on an epic journey to the center of their amps and bring back rare treasure. There are lots of bands generating satisfying noise on the Memphis garage punk scene, but with each new release Ex-Cult make it clear they're moving to the top of the heap with all deliberate speed, and if this isn't their most innovative release, it's a serious blast of raw rock & roll pleasure.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Mark Deming