Exene Cervenka / Original Sinners

Sev7en

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Exene Cervenka, bless her heart, still loves punk rock and is still wailing more than a quarter century after she helped found one of the finest American bands of the 1980s, X. While X has forsaken writing and recording new material these days, Cervenka continues to have plenty to say and true to form she isn't about to keep quiet; Sev7en is her second album with her band the Original Sinners, and it finds her in enjoyably rough and rowdy form. Not unlike X, the Original Sinners split the difference between punk and roots rock, though Jason Edge's and Dan Sabella's guitars lean more strongly toward the blues than the thrashabilly explosion that was/is Billy Zoom's style (the cover of the Gun Club's "Ghost on the Highway" marks a clear reference point), and there's a bit more open space and less violence in the group's attack (with acoustic guitars popping up on a few tracks). But the Sinners work up an impressive and sympathetic ruckus behind their frontwoman, and Cervenka's blend of street level poetry ("Last Dance," "Tavern") and surreal but pointed social commentary ("Lonesome War," "History Now") is as keen and compelling as ever. Exene is also singing great these days, revealing a technical skill that sometimes evaded her in X's early days but still shouting out with a feral passion. Sev7en isn't quite going to make you forget Wild Gift or Under the Big Black Sun, but the lyrical mind that helped make those landmark albums is as fierce and agile as ever, and you don't have to be a punk nostalgia junkie to dig this stuff.

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