Excepter seems to be a band that exists merely to confound us. They make a mighty interesting sound, but it’s impossible to categorize. On the one hand, they are very clearly a “noise” band, but they are not “noise rock,” as most of the sounds emanating from the speakers are those of electronic devices. They, however, are not entirely “noise,” either, as their sound, no matter how bizarre or discordant, is actually entirely listenable and somewhat accessible. Okay, so maybe that all depends on your weirdness tolerance level. For me it’s pretty high, but it may not be for others. And yet, I can’t help but hear rhythms, melodies, even choruses (I can’t really explain it) on their new EP, Sunbomber.
The EP, however, contains, within itself, some conflicting aspects. This release is packaged and marketed as an EP, but you’ll notice it has one more song than their previous “album,” and is only five minutes shorter. Doesn’t make much sense, now does it? Excepter cares not, because Excepter doesn’t have to make sense. They play a strange, tweaked electronic drum ‘n’ drone that finds pretty much no contemporaries in the pop music world. Listening to the opening of leadoff track “One More Try,” one might think it nothing more than beeps and warbles, but in due time a melody and a beat appear, tossing that theory out the window. It ain’t “Hey Ya,” but it’s certainly more accessible than, say, The Boredoms’ early stuff. It even has vocals, albeit distorted, atonal drunken slurs, but vocals nonetheless.
“Second Chances” is more hyperactive in the beat department, though music-wise, it’s a garbled mess of Casios and distortion. It’s a headfuck, to be sure, but it’s a pretty fun one, I must admit. “Bridge Traffic” is almost funky, slithering along with its slinky beat and wah-wah like synth filter sounds, soundtracking a slow, hot cruise over a city bridge. Vocals reappear in track four, “Dawn Patrol,” a flute-squeaking, beat hammering tune that goes from peppy and mischievous to downright chaotic.
This “EP” ends with the title track, a nine minute industrial dirge that veers further off the path of accessibility than the other songs, burying any melodic aspect under drones and crashes. However, a church organ peeks through after a few minutes, offering a slightly bright moment among the darkened path traveled here. Excepter’s Sunbomber is confusing. It’s strange. It’s even a little scary. But once you push all that aside, it’s actually one very exciting recording from a band that may not be for everyone, but certainly will mystify those willing to give it a chance.
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Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.