This week we summon Ex Hex, Indoor Pets, Liily, Low Hum, Volcano and Sunwatchers...
Fall under the spell of the next great American guitar band
Mary Timony should probably be knighted by now. The US guitarist has been a punk and indie mainstay since the 90s, pulling shifts of varying lengths in Helium, Wild Flag and numerous solo endeavours, yet Ex Hex, her band since 2013, might be the one to secure said sword-dubbing.
The trio’s debut Rips certainly did exactly that - garnering a heap of critical nods in the process - but second album It’s Real is something special, bringing Timony’s guitar to the fore in a layered love letter to the scuzzier end of 70s radio rock.
“My general rule is that I try to only play things on the guitar that I have heard in my head, rather than lines that look interesting on the fretboard, or things that are taken from somewhere else,” explains Timony of her playing philosophy. “It just ends up better that way.”
The likes of Rainbow Shiner, Another Dimension and Cosmic Cave spew out riffs and solos at a rate of knots, showcasing a style that is a digested amalgam of glam, punk, garage bands, hard rockers, indie jangle and driving AOR, yet somehow still louche enough to be unpredictable. It follows then that - despite having a wall of 12 greatest hits amps at their disposal - it was a Rockman headphone amp that landed a big role in creating her punchy retro tone.
“I’ve had it since the 80s,” says Timony. “It’s a tiny black box that looks like a Walkman, but when you plug it in you automatically sound like you are in Boston. It has that Tom Scholz tone, because he made it!”
Were there any other period-correct touches? “We wore a lot of lucky bandannas while we were recording,” concludes Mary. “It worked. Just so you know, that’s the way to make a record. All you need is a bunch of bandannas, and everything will be great!”
- For fans of: Wild Flag, The Cars
- Gear: Custom Koll Duo Glide, 1976 Gibson Les Paul special, 1966 Fender Bassman, Orange Rockerverb
Kent power-punks Indoor Pets summon up a sugar-rush of fizzing guitars, harmony-laden vocals and gargantuan major chords, powered by the dual-core of guitarists Jamie Glass and James Simpson.
“Jamie wants those roaring walls of Brit Pop guitars with the odd sprinkling of a monster drop D riff,” explains James. “My lead sounds tend to change every section, let alone every song... This pisses the others off no end as it takes me so long to find new sounds for each part.” Still, the work is worth it. Debut album Be Content oozes Weezer wizardry in its sunshine-y seriousness and bulges with a Hives-like intensity.
“I’m a huge fan of garage rock riffs where the chords are ripped through at 100mph,” adds Jamie. “I love the sound of a guitar that feels like it’s close to having every string snapped per stab.”
- For fans of: Spielbergs, Weezer
- Gear: Fender Mustang, Elite Telecaster
New sound of LA’s rock underground
Hailing from LA’s San Fernando Valley, Liily are representative of a recent evolution of the city’s darker heavy rock roots, blitzing post-punk moodiness and math-y flourishes with full-on, grimy rock anthems - think Foals gone Foo Fighters or Jane’s Addiction chugging METZ beats.
“My absolute favourite music right now comes from bands that can write two melodies that coexist and support each other,” says guitarist Sam De La Torre. “When people see our show, my goal is to have them dance to the bass and drums, and remember the guitars and lyrics.”
It’s rock then, but with something up top. “It’s about time for something new made with the simplest, most straightforward mediums like real guitars and real drums. When you have real instruments doing things people haven’t heard before, it brings making music back to its core.”
- For fans of: Jane’s Addiction, METZ
- Gear: Fender Telecasters, Super Reverb
- Who: Multi-instrumentalist Collin Desha
- Sounds like: An LSD-powered, sun-burned surf through neo-psych seas
- Gear: Fender Jazzmaster, Vaderin Germanium Fuzz, ’79 Marshal JMP and a Fender Deluxe Reverb Audio Echo Dream 2
- For fans of: FIDLAR, Tame Impala
- Hear: Strange Love
- Who: San Diegan six-stringer Zach Oakley
- Sounds like: Stoner-rock-y-horror show soundtrack to a funk-fuelled cannibalistic island party
- Gear: Fresher (70s Japanese LP-style), Fender Strat, Fender Twin and Super Reverb Echoplex
- For fans of: Allman Brothers, Can
- Hear: Naked Prey
- Who: NYC guitarist Jim McHugh
- Sounds like: Everything, but also nothing else. A soaring, unrepentently joyful jazz-punk romp
- Gear: ’62 Jazzmaster, ’76 Telecaster, Burns Double-6, Electric Phin, Jason Roach-modded pedals
- For fans of: Guerilla Toss, Tonstartssbandht
- Hear: Beautiful Crystals