Bands from Nowhere in Texas: The Ex-Optimists

The term ‘dad-rock’ is used as a thinly veiled insult to music two to three generations before the current one; it is used to deride ACDC and Boston worshippers who criticize without context most music that came afterward. However, in a literal sense, dad-rock is nothing more than music played by dads. This would leave one to ask,”will dad-rock take on a new shape?” as the next generation of parents continues to develop. If this does happen, I can report proudly, that this silly descriptor has a bright future, at least if bands like The Ex-Optimists represent it.

The Ex-Optimists fall somewhere on the shoegaze/dream pop/90’s college rock sphere. This is greatly textured rock shot out from pedal setups that are closer to sentient AI supercomputers than a simple chain of stompboxes; moreover, it is played live at a volume loud enough to destroy anything fragile within a hundred foot radius. While this itself does not create great music, the real strength of The Ex-Ops lay in their songwriting; all four members show a strong grasp of this skill, knowing never to overcomplicate when a simple lead or rhythm will do. Most tunes take on a simple verse chorus pop structure melded into beautiful walls of fuzz, droning bass, and drums. Guitarists Kelly Minnis and Michael Scarborough provide hook-laden melodies for bassist Katie Killer and drummer Colin Witucki to drive forward. These are tightly written noise rock songs that would have the most boring concert goer nodding their head along.

More impressively, The Ex-Optimists do not stop at the performance of music in the Bryan-College Station area. They have cultivated a place for bands to play without the bullshit of booking gigs. They book Revolution in Bryan, which, for the uneducated, is one of the sickest punk spots in Texas; here bands in the area can schedule shows while avoiding trappings like pay to play and “genre shows.” If that isn’t enough, they also run a record label, Sinkhole Texas Inc., with which they help others in the area affordably press and make physical media for their music. Finally, they hold a yearly showcase called LOUDFEST! which hosts bands from all over the country (and sometimes the world) for the barebones price of $5.

Key Note: LOUDFEST! is happening right now and dammit, you should be out there checking it out. It is $5 for these (two remaining) days: May 19, 20, 21. Check out the Ex Ops here.

–Zach Lannes

[Featured image source]

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