Pin It
The Ex-Monkeys' combination of electronic samplers and electric guitar in propulsive, rock-like themes is relatively isolated in the Triangle.

The Ex-Monkeys' Being Human 


click to enlarge Ex-Monkeys.gif

Though The Ex-Monkeys' combination of electronic samplers and electric guitar in propulsive, rock-like themes is relatively isolated in the Triangle, the music of Ian Shannon and Ed Winstead—who explored similar territory together in the '90s in trio form as Friend Side Monkey—aren't new in any sort of national or international context. With similarities to the work Brian Eno did with members of Cluster in the '70s, the anthemic cutting-and-building strategies of DJ Shadow into the '00s and, more recently and popularly, the shambolic but sometimes charming beats of New York's Ratatat, The Ex-Monkeys aren't breaking ground, even if they don't sound like your neighbor's rock 'n' roll band.

Of course, if your neighbor's garage band proves anything, it's that a band's music doesn't have to sound new to sound fresh: The five tracks of Being Human—and (spoiler alert) a playful cover of Devo's "Big Mess" tacked on as a hidden number—bound with esprit and enthusiasm. But, while Winstead and Shannon play with the energy of kids who've just discovered this sort of music, they arrange with the expertise of veterans. Notice the way "Bangers" stutters at the start, reaching for a groove just to have it slip past. They let it all evaporate into an atmospheric wash and capitalize on the bait-and-switch, coming back with twice the steam.

"Detour" opens with a serial whir of sound that suggests a mechanized sarod. A boom-bap beat and serrated guitar push it forward, emptying into a stretch that pits disparate ideas—a down-tempo skip and a funky bass bit—against a wash of turntablism and mercurial whirs. It builds back into that beginning sound, showcasing a sense of linear arrangement that The Ex-Monkeys exploit to cinematic, triumphant effect. Similiarly, "Twelve" oscillates between a trance-like haze and a driving anxiety. The band funnels it all into an outro of sampled voices battling against a wash of white noise above a rush of clicks and beats. It all burns away in a bejeweled din, exhausted and exhilarated.

The Ex-Monkeys play MarVell Event Center Thursday, Aug. 6, in Durham with Cheezface, Wretched Martyr and Shiragirl at 9 p.m. Tickets are $5.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Record Review

More by Grayson Haver Currin

Facebook Activity

Twitter Activity


I knew you were an extraordinary talent when watching you at a benefit at Blind Tiger a couple o' years …

by Paul Hunnemann on Filthybird's Songs for Other People (Record Review)

Good review. I may not like all of the same songs or artists that the reviewer likes and vice versa …

by E.j. Rupert on Various Artists - 9th Wonder presents: Jamla is the Squad (Record Review)

© 2014 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation