XERXES - Collision Blonde (Cover Artwork)


Collision Blonde (2014)

No Sleep

The first track to Louisville, KY's XERXES sophomore album Collision Blonde starts where the A side to their Would you understand? 7-inch from last year ends. Literally. If you sequence them together it creates one song that fades out, then fades back in. It's a good thing too, because without that nod to their last release, you would have no idea this is the same band. I've described this record to people as Comadre meets The Cure, a vast change from their old sound of a band in the Modern Life Is War/Touch Amore camp.

Gone are any sort of breakdowns. Gone is any lyrical content a typical "hardcore" band would use. Vocalist Calvin Philley, in the vein of Nick Cave, or Brendan Kelly's solo album, paints a picture of a drug-addled, bad decision making fuck-up who probably drinks too much. A character you don't want to relate to, but can't help but find yourself finding similarities with. In "(but here we are)", a great spoken-word song in the vein of Slint, he delivers a crushing line while talking about playing a show drunk and embarrassing yourself: "Dad called and said to stop drinking. He wasn't even there." There's a great back-and-forth the whole record between screaming and talking, each one making the other that much more powerful. Because of that I'm sure a lot of mewithoutyou and La Dispute comparisons will be made, but to me the vast dynamics of the vocals remind me of Thursday or Circle Take the Square more than anything.

The guitar tones on this record are ridiculous. It's reminiscent of The Cure, super pretty, clean, and with tons of chorus. It's something I never knew I wanted in a punk/hardcore band, but now I can't help but try to think of ways to incorporate a tone like this in my own music. I've been lucky enough to sit on this record for a few months now and I can say with complete confidence this is one of my favorite guitar sounds on any record ever.

XERXES added a new rhythm section not too long ago, and bassist Joseph Goode and drummer Ben Sears have added a whole new groove to this band. This whole record has a driving beat to it, there's a strong early 80's punk/post-punk feel to it. The bass parts to me have a Joy Division/Wire feel to them, I would say most of the record the bass is playing the main melody to the songs, almost playing a rhythm guitar role to Will Allard's lead.

The drums remind me of Coliseum(rightly so, as Ben is in Black God and Whips/Chains with Coliseum frontman Ryan Patterson). Super driving, and super creative beats that sound simple and obvious, but aren't at all(see "Nosedive" and "Knife").

Collision Blonde is one of the most creative records I've heard in a long, long while, and taking the risk to change style like this paid off well for XERXES. 10 months into 2014 this is my favorite record I've heard this year and regardless of whether or not you agree with that, you won't hear another record that sounds like this.