The Best Band You’ve Never Heard of @ Bonnaroo: Ex Cops

by on June 10, 2013

Posted in: Concert, Music, Pop, Rock

Disclaimer: The title “best band you’ve never heard of” assumes a lot. I fully acknowledge that many of our readers are considerably more musically current and knowledgeable than I, and very well may have heard of every act at any given festival.  If that’s the case, just bear with me, because really, why are you reading this article anyway?

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This Thursday, upwards of 80,000 music fanatics will swarm modest Manchester, Tennessee for the eleventh annual Bonnaroo Music Festival. Since its conception in 2002, the four-day festival has grown to be one of the most critically acclaimed and people-popular in modern music history. Typically regarded for big-name acts like this year’s veteran rock icon Paul McCartney and rap wunderkind Kendrick Lamar, Bonnaroo has recently gained a reputation for debuting the best in new music. Among 2013’s most exciting small acts is Brooklyn duo Ex Cops.

When Manhattan’s radical record store Other Music premiered their label under Fat Possum Records (home to station favorites Yuck, Wavves, and Spiritualized) in 2012, indie-pop aficionados Ex Cops were both their first signing and release. The group’s debut 7-inch, “You Are a Lion, I Am a Lamb” b/w “The Millionaire”, showcased their uncanny ability to sound at once like a whirlwind of influences and all their own. Pair Brian Harding (Hymns) and Amalie Bruun (Minks) deliver the energy of Factory-era British rock and sugary lo-fi hooks reminiscent of The Velvet Underground and Nico.

Ex Cop’s first full-length record develops the duo’s impressive catalog of inspirations into a fresh and balmy sound unique to Harding’s songcraft and Bruun’s effortless shimmering melodies. Released this past January, True Hallucinations takes Ex Cops to new heights, expanding the duo into a full five-piece band with the help of friends Kai Kennedy, Leif Huckman, and Sam Bair. On “James”, the group drenches irresistibly syrupy boy/girl harmonies in jangling guitar riffs, a sound that situates Ex Cops securely among dream-pop’s best. But the dark, heavy bass line on “Separator” and swooning, breezy beats on “Ken” prove Ex Cops’ versatility. The album is short and sweet, clocking in at just over thirty minutes, but True Hallucinations lingers and lures its listeners to return to it again and again.

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Enjoying the success of their first release, the group has recently played a slew of west-coast shows that were well received by critics and lay concertgoers alike. Live, early cuts stay true to their homespun nature, as Harding strums along sloppily to Bruun’s airy sighs. But newer tracks highlight the band’s power-pop precision, with riffs that resonate, robust and colorful. Armed with an album full of quintessential summer anthems, Ex Cops will certainly sound at home among acts like Beach House, Local Natives, and The XX, but are likely to draw a smaller crowd (they’re slotted against Wu-Tang Clan at 8PM on Friday), making for a delightfully intimate show.

For those readers attending Bonnaroo, be sure to at least swing by  the New Music on Tap Lounge to catch a song or two from this up-and-coming Brooklyn outfit (but be forewarned: you might not be able to tear yourself away); their glistening indie-pop jingles will blanket you in a thick psychedelic haze to match the Manchester heat. East-coasters can catch Ex Cops in Charleston and Richmond in another week, or at Hopscotch Festival (alongside avant-garde disco darlings Future Islands) in Raleigh in September. The rest of us should keep an eye out for upcoming shows and new material, from both Ex Cops and their label-mates (we like Nude Beach), at othermusicrecordingco.com.

Images from www.othermusicrecordingco.com.