After that, it was onward to Club Dada.
It had been a little over a year since the last time I saw Exit 380, due mainly to their lack of shows for most of this year and it seemed like when they did do them I was unable to go. But tonight they were finally releasing an album that had been in the works well over two years. In fact, I seem to remember shortly after they released their previous LP in August 2008 that they said they had already began writing songs for another album. So yeah, “Townies” has been in the works for quite some time, but now they finally had something tangible to give their fans.
A lot of songs from this record are more along the lines of folk music, a far cry from the alternative rock they were doing when I first discovered them in 2006, and making the changes noticeable during the live shows is that lead guitarist, Aaron Borden, sits and plucks the guitar strings like a pedal steel guitar as much as he stands and shreds these days. That was how he played the first few songs of the night, such as their opener, “Run For The Gold”. When it was over, vocalist, Dustin Blocker, thanked the audience for the applause and then highlighted Aaron’s efforts. “He really stepped up and delivered some great material…” he said. Some of the stuff he has written in the past is still some of my favorite E380 songs, and one of these that he has conjured up now is no exception. That is the single from this new album, “Soul Burning Train”. Blocker had already put his harmonica to use during that first song, and pulled it out here. “I start this.” he told Aaron. With that he played some notes and hung on them for a few seconds before fill in drummer, Jody McCauley, and the rest of the band made their entrance on “Little Trip”. This may be the first real folk album the band has done, but they’ve been tinkering with the sound for awhile. Five years or so actually, back when “Last Monday” was their current release, and they next did a personal favorite of mine from it, “2 Lie”. On the final line of the song, “…You been up all night, question me, question life. You don’t think just desire, but don’t you fuckin’ lie to meeeeee.”, Blocker held the “e” sound for an impressive amount of time. Thing is, I think he could’ve even kept going, but Aaron started winding the song down. He apologized afterwards, saying “…I didn’t know you had any air left in you.” They then joked that they had said they were only supposed to stop when Blocker’s face turned red, but that purple or blue was pushing it too far. Blocker professed the next song, “Missy Gardner”, was one of his favorites that he had written awhile back and was loving being able to play it live. Personally, I would agree with him, as it has become one of my favorites on “Townies”, and they kept the slower vibe going with “Where Do We Go From Here?” and one from the “The Life and Death of Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Stone” album, “Sweet Remorse”. Afterwards, Blocker acknowledged some other big time contributors to this music, “the Hutch brothers”, bassist, “The Hutch”, and rhythm guitarist, Jeremy Hutch, whom he said came up with great music beds. Apparently one of those songs is the more folk/rock tune, “Cajun Rock (A Violent Man)”. I had noticed from the start of the show that “The Hutch” was a little more chill on stage then he used to be, which makes perfect sense since you can’t really rock out to their current stuff. This song was one of the exceptions however, and he took advantage of it and really made his presence known. “Moonshiners Run”, another very folk tune, came next and then a more rockin’ song, “The Road (Thieves and Slaves)”. Next they did “Diego’s Son”, but before starting it Blocker set up the storyline. He mentioned the song “Harland’s Wife” from their “Cities/Townies” EP, which was released last year, and he described the saga they were telling through it and some of the other songs. “…This song is about the guy who killed the guy.” said Blocker in an explanation that had me hopelessly lost. The basic gist of it though is this, Diego is the guy that kills Harland, so listen to the songs and it’ll all make sense. They did one final more country based song, “Daddy Was a Freight Train”, then more of a rocker with “In the Park”, and with that they had played “Townies” in its entirety.
There were many songs I was hoping to hear this night, most of which I knew wouldn’t be played, but at this point I had gotten so caught up in the show I completely forgot what any of them where, at least until Blocker said they had one final song “This is called Quid Pro Quo.” he said and upon hearing that I became ecstatic. I consider it one of their best rock songs they’ve written, and I still remember seeing them at the Curtain Club in early 2007 where they either played it for one of the first times live or maybe even debuted it. Anyway, by the time they finished it they had been on stage for exactly 60 minutes.
The show they put on was incredible, and it saddened me that so few people were there to see it. I mean, there were several dozen, but for it to be the bands CD release I figured Dada would be packed. Oh well, if you didn’t make it to this, it was your loss. Also, in addition to the five members of Exit 380 they had enlisted help from Kelly Panter, who plays guitar in the band Inside Light. He played an array of instruments, including keys, shaking some item for an extra percussion sound, guitar, and even a mandolin (at least I think it was a mandolin). And while on the subject, Jeremy even played the mandolin for a song or two.
In short about the album, it may be totally different from anything they did five plus years ago, but in the past four years they’ve slowly been edging towards those particular genres of music, and frankly, this is overall the best E380 album ever. All of the songs have a top notch quality about them and none of them seem lacking like you typically find on records.
So, buy it HERE on their bandcamp or HERE on iTunes. They also have their array of past releases, all up on iTunes: “Cities/Townies”, “The Life and Death…”, “Last Monday”, “Old Songs, New Tape”, and “Short Story”.
The band will also be doing two shows next month. The first will be in Dallas at the Kessler Theater on Friday, January 13th, while the other will take place in Fort Worth on Friday, January 27th at the Wild Rooster Bar. On a related note, Dustin Blocker has a solo project known as W.A. Fite, and he will be doing a show under that moniker on Thursday, December 15th at Andy’s Bar in Denton.
I also want to give another HUGE thank you to all the guys of Exit 380 for not only making sure I got one of the limited edition posters they had to hand out, but also all autographing it as well as the album. Also, huge props to their label, Hand Drawn Records, who have re-posted a lot of my stuff over the past few months, which is GREATLY appreciated! Both treated me as if I were a celebrity, which Blocker told me I was, even it was just on the local level. I would politely disagree with that, but that isn’t to say I’m not honored that they respect me to that extent and it’s truly humbling.
NOTE: You can expect to hear music from this new Exit 380 album, as well as an album review in the future on the “The Music Enthusiast Podcast” starting up in just a few weeks as part of the WhiskeyBoy Radio Network.
A note to whom it may interest: I’m wanting to get advertisers on my blog. If you are a band, music venue, or have any type of product or business whatsoever you want to promote, e-mail me at: TheRealMusicEnthusiast@gmail.com for full info. I will tell you now though, I get good traffic on my site and my prices will be VERY, VERY affordable to even the most broke bands/people. So please, allow me to help promote YOUR product constantly, and not just when I do a show review. Venues, I can list all your upcoming shows as I do for the Granada Theater. Bands, I can put up an image of your album cover and link that to iTunes, etc. Let me know if you would be interested in getting in on this exciting opportunity!
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