Reviews Ex Friends Rules for Making Up Words

Ex Friends

Rules for Making Up Words

Ex Friends are a group of Philly area punks, recognized from their work in other bands. The band features Joel Tannenbaum (Plow United), JP Flexner (flyer artist), Audrey Crash, and Jayme Guokas. On their debut full-length, Rules for Making Up Words, they don’t let those previous associations get in the way, though; they embrace them. The project sounds like the sum of its parts, with Tannenbaum’s vocals and familiar lyricism leading the charge.

Tannenbaum carries the largest stamp on Ex Friends, with the direct lyricism and his familiar voice and delivery. It’s very similar to Plow United except, you got it, for the music, which is more varied than his pop punk band’s structures tend to be. There’s a lot of stylistic variation on Making Up Words, all with a steady backdrop of Plow United-style 4/4 pop punk but with different chord variations and influence that carries the general sway of the songs. In “The Middle of Nowhere” they push the bass up front and in “Rainy Season” they slow it down (a touch) to where the melodies remind of Nato Coles midtempo melodicism focus. Overall, though, it’s caffeinated and opinionated. The vocal tradeoffs work really well.

The lyrics steal the show with this record, taking a repetitive chorus structure and direct lyrics about issues like sexism, police brutality, consumerism, and a whole lot more. It’s preach to the choir punk that gets jingoistic, for example in one of the catchiest songs on the record, “Sympathy for the Sociopath,” which bears the blunt refrain of “cops crack skulls/ cops crack skulls.” It’s the kind of punk record that uses words like “capitalism” and “bourgeoisie” mid-song without caring how heavy-handed it may come across. It’s really solid singalong punk, but it’s also overly preachy and loses some of the fun that the bouncy rhythms establish. While I like a healthy dose of politics in my music (more than the average listener I’m pretty sure), I also prefer a little less finger wagging.

Anyway, Ex Friends has released a fun record here. It just gets a wears a little bit over the course of 14 songs.

7.1 / 10Loren
KFAI - Roar of the Underground
Leave a comment

7.1 / 10

7.1 / 10

Share this content
Related features

One Question Interviews Plow United

Posted Jan. 24, 2015, 12:58 a.m.

Joel Tannenbaum (Plow United, The Rentiers, Ex Friends) SPB: As a musician, do you find terminology such as “side project” to be relevant to you ...

KFAI - Root Of All Evil
Recent reviews

Crypt Sermon

The Ruins of Fading Light

8.5 / 10 Crypt Sermon - The Ruins of Fading Light album cover

The evolution of a band is something that most of us can comprehend through their musical output and live appearances and where most bands evolve quite publicly, there are some ...

CJ Ramone

The Holy Spell

8.2 / 10 CJ Ramone - The Holy Spell album cover
200 Words Or Less

As of August 6th, it’s been 23 long, languid year’s since The Ramones played their final show. Since then, all the original members - Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy ...

New Dialogue

Teach Me How to Feel EP

5.0 / 10 New Dialogue - Teach Me How to Feel EP album cover

New Dialogue's Facebook bio states that the Los Angeles-based quintet "speaks for the moment", and with their band name they "assume an important responsibility" -- bold claims from a band ...

Related news

Bands 1QI: Ampere, Plow United, Recreant, United Teachers of Music

Posted Jan. 24, 2015, 9:39 a.m.

Welcome to our almost daily quickie Q&A feature: One Question Interviews. Follow us at facebook or twitter and we'll post one interview every Monday-Thursday. Okay, sometimes we miss ...

Music News Joel Tannenbaum writes piece on music copyrights

Posted June 29, 2014, 9:49 a.m.

Joel Tannenbaum of Plow United and Ex Friends has published a lengthy and detailed piece explaining copyright law and how it benefits musicians here. The article examines and explains various ...

Labels New Beach Slang this fall on Tiny Engines

Posted June 25, 2014, 8:37 p.m.

Philadelphia's Beach Slang haev announced a new record this fall on new label Tiny Engines.  The band, including members James Snyder (Weston), JP Flexner (Ex-Friends), and Ed McNulty (Crybaby ...



Looking for the SPB logo? You can download it in a range of styles and colours here:

Click anywhere outside this dialog to close it, or press escape.