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Catch My Shoe

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Album Review

A 30-year-old anarchist Dutch punk band with a new lead singer and only one original member might not sound like the formula for amazing music, but — on Catch My Shoe — the Ex make it work. In large part, this is due to their being the Ex, a free-thinking and ambitious unit that long ago evolved far beyond its punk roots, and most recently staged a series of extended tours and recordings with Ethiopian musicians including saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya. "Change your interior, research your furniture," new singer Arnold de Boer sings on "Double Order," sounding not unlike a more Continental, bright-eyed Johnny Rotten, more a righteous and thoughtful suggestion than a sneering command. De Boer is excellent throughout, especially on sweeping anti-anthems like "Cold Weather Is Back," "Keep on Walking," and "24 Problems," the former bolstered by blustering horns. The literally unsung star of the show (except on "Eoleyo," where she takes the mike) is drummer Katherina Bornefeld, whose propulsive and inventive drumming is the force that keeps the Ex sounding completely vital. Throughout the 11 songs, she never once settles for a default beat. On "Tree Float," she builds a part around a busy and forward-moving snare line that recalls more a single-note melodic thought than a mere member of the rhythm section, a strategy she repeats across the disc to great success. For all their experimentation and commitment, the Ex have done the impossible and found a way to make 21st century music that not only still sounds authentically rabble-rousing in the face of modern society but includes songs that remain catchy and triumphant — a reminder that all future anthems must necessarily begin as singalongs.


Formed: 1979 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Playing a hybrid of punk to advance their liberal socialist agenda (serving as the rough equivalent of a Dutch Crass), the Ex put out reams of records and propaganda during the '80s -- each released on a different Dutch label -- but in the '90s began to embrace industrial forms of percussion and improvisation more in line with Einstürzende Neubauten and Test Dept. Formed in the late '70s, the group debuted at the turn of the decade with Disturbing Domestic Peace. The year 1983 was particularly busy;...
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Catch My Shoe, The Ex
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