Los Angeles-based band Ex-poets have released their new single Still Waiting, which is lifted from their new album ‘Too Much Future’ (pre-order) out September 28 via San Francisco’s label Text Me Records. Take a listen to Still Waiting via Soundcloud below.
Still Waiting follows up the single Colorguard which premiered at Noisey. About Colorguard, Noisey says, “Here’s the bare bones of it: This song is magic—dusky, measured, sexy; familiar yet fresh, languorous, and possessing an intimacy and poise that bodes well for duo who have come clean out of nowhere. Kinda. Ex-poets are made up of vocalist Colin Killalea and Jordan Brooks. Both are ridiculously dextrous multi-instrumentalists (Brooks calls Killalea something of a “studio freak”), but in recent years, you may have caught them as the guitarist and bassist (respectively) providing the sauce for Albert Hammond Jr.’s band.”
Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Jordan Brooks and Colin Killalea (who takes the lead on vocals), Ex-poets create introspective music for twilight times, headphone music for strolling city streets, or just leaning back and taking one last drag. Sonically they slide neatly between Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Nick Hakim, and like all the greatest music, Ex-poets’ songs allow for interpretation. For Jordan Still Waiting —with its thrumming bass line, sinuous synths, and a graceful topline that bears the fingerprints of Jeff Buckley at his most spare—the song explores present-day paralysis. For Colin it’s “a tribute to love and wanting to be alone with that person and the elements.”
Jordan and Colin met over a decade ago, two music nerds (from Illinois and Virginia, respectively) drawn to New York City to study music at The New School. They wound up in a jazz session together, Jordan on upright bass and Colin on sax, and quickly bonded. Their tastes are similarly eclectic and voracious: Wayne Shorter and Sun Ra and João Gilberto; the Books, Can, John Lennon and J Dilla (whose influence can be heard on album opener Our Homes where piano chords kick off an off-kilter dance with dusty beats until the grooves coalesce to a create a soothing swoon of a song).
Together they formed Pocketknife, gigging locally before disbanding and working as players and in production for various projects (Jordan—Lee Fields, Sondre Lerche, John Congleton; and Colin—Natalie Prass, Klauss, Juliana Daugherty). Most notably the pair teamed up again to record and tour for several years with The Strokes’ Albert Hammond Jr. as part of his solo project.
In some ways Colorguard was the song where Ex-poets truly began to take shape. “The last time I was at Glasslands in Brooklyn was New Year’s Eve, and all these hip indie bands were playing, but they were playing King Tubby and stuff between the sets,” recalls Jordan. “In a somewhat heightened state of awareness an idea flashed to me to try something on this beautiful song of Colin’s.”
By the time work started in earnest Jordan had decamped to LA and Colin returned to Virginia, honing his engineering skills on a goat farm that doubles as a recording studio. Jordan would email over snippets of songs—a looped groove, beats mapped out on a E-mu SP-1200 drum machine/sampler. Colin would record his toplines and fire them back.
“So much of what comes through is really Jordan’s voice even though I’m singing,” explains Colin of their collaboration. Both occupy distinct, essential roles: Colin with his string arrangements and melodies, Jordan helming the rhythm section—obsessively tweaking and finalizing, either on his own or in the dank Brooklyn basement where they eventually lay down the lion’s share of the record with luminaries including Jon Natchez (who’s played in War on Drugs) on bass clarinet and Frank LoCrasto (Cass McCombs) and the Grammy-winning producer Elliot Scheiner.
The result is a richly textured, remarkably diverse album from the finger-clicks and elegiac strings of Grace, to the surprising R&B-inflected falsetto lilts on Sight Unseen, to the sing-speak, psych-noodling of Animales (there’s some hints of Phoenix in this one). Another album stand out is the blissed out Tracks—a lyrical coda to a tumultuous relationship.
“We knew it was falling apart and we just let it go—there was no conversation, it was a conversation of action,” explains Colin. “I was imagining her like the character Fleur Pillager from the Louise Erdrich book Tracks. She’s a wild woman who can’t be tamed and she wanders off into the wilderness. That’s how I saw my ex: as this person who needs to go off into the woods and cast spells and here I am left guessing at what it all means.” It’s a song that’s swiftly followed by Wildfire which opens with the recording of a drunk dad at a bar, slurring his poetry, unsolicited, while his kids urge him to hush up.
Ultimately ‘Too Much Future’ isn’t so much rooted in the specificity of moments as an ongoing journey, the broad strokes of letting curiosity propel you, a note to self to be stubborn in our awe of experience, and know that the search is in fact where the beauty lies. ‘Too Much Future’, is also a record to sink into right now. The rest will fall into place.
‘Too Much Future’ track list
- Our Homes
- Still Waiting
- Sight Unseen
- Too Much Future
- Bands of Colors