Last month, I read how music writers were already compiling their Album Of The Year lists. It was only September…crazy right? I guess that’s how it works if you are a serious music writer. The advantage of having your own outlet is that you don’t have to worry about deadlines and you can postpone working on year-end lists just a little longer. But my general inclination towards procrastination is not the main reason for waiting out on the AOTY list. It’s simply because there will always be late contenders entering the competition.
Now Where Were We by The Exbats is a primary example. The Exbats are daughter-father duo Inez & Kenny McLain on drums/vocals and guitar/vocals, and Bobby Carlson Jr. on bass. Now Where Were is the The Exbats third album. It is built on the same effective template as their previous albums: Scrappy and honest ’60s pop rounded out by influences from ’70s powerpop and punk, garage and bubblegum pop and blue-eyed soul. Kinda like The Mamas & The Papas x The Shangri-Las x The Archies x The Ramones. Though subtle, the music of The Exbats has steadily been evolving, and I don’t think the band has never sounded better. The songs on Now Where Were We have more depth, diversity and better harmonies than on their previous outings; The result of a more deliberate and more extensive period of songwriting. What hasn’t changed: The Exbats still sound insanely catchy, with memorable choruses you will sing along to in no time.
I have seldom exclaimed listening to my new favorite song by a band on their third album. I think it happened at least 3 or 4 times with Now Where Were We: Coolsville USA, Practice On Me, Best Kiss, and Hey New Zealand are all instant classics. Let me tell you, when one of the funnest bands of this era release their best work yet, you’d better create some room to update your AOTY lists.