Ex~Po "Central Meaner Street"
Some of you are lucky enough to remember the time when the album came in a twelve and a quarter inch sleeve, and the music was delivered to you on a two–sided vinyl disc that needed to be flipped halfway through. This was before the CD, and by its very nature made the process of listening to an album much more of an involved, experience. Audiophiles like to preach about the superior sonic quality of vinyl, but the truth of the matter is, who cares? Listening to records — especially now that you get the digital download with them — is just a better experience. And it’s fun.
And the good news is, records are making a resurgence. Some artists are even opting to make limited and very special releases only available on vinyl.
“Central Meaner Street” by Ex~Po, released in September 2008 is one such example. Only available on record and thereafter online, it has bypassed the CD–as–the–vehicle. Ex~Po is the brainchild of Dean Marino, a record producer and co-owner of Chemical Sound, who took four years of life experiences and stepped out from behind the board, and into the studio to create “Central Meaner Street“. And surprisingly, this recording skirts a wonderful line between the boundaries of lo-fi and hi-fi just nicely thank you very much.
From drop of the needle, to return of the arm at the end of the second side, you’re on a ride that seems so appropriately at home amidst the crackles and static, characteristic of records. And the music is deeply steeped in influences of 90’s Canadian Indie. It would be very easy to confuse this release as being more than 10 years old at the height of Sonic Unyon, Murder Records, and of course Sub Pop. An example of why the music today is just so damned great.
Standouts are the leadoff track “Tasty Bites” which casts just the right tone to start the musical journey. But “Burn Burn Burn” and “Morning Wake” send you to the end of side one with some tempo and then some tender. “Constant Commuter” begins the journey that is the second side, and sounds both familiar and comfortable. In fact that is the pearl of this album — from start to finish, it feels like a journey you’ve been on before, but forgotten just how much you loved.
Comparisons that have been tossed around are George Harrison, The Shins and Elvis Costello which are both flattering and applicable. But the one that I haven’t heard and think is equally valid is Elliot Smith. But what or who Dean Marino or Ex~Po sound like, the point is, it is well worth checking out!
And good news, Ex~Po are playing a couple shows for those of you in the vicinity of Toronto. Get out and see them, and pick up the record — you won’t regret it!
- June 24, 2009 @ The Boat (Kensington Market), Toronto ON
- August 6, 2009 @ Holy Joe’s, Toronto ON