With the release of Memphis, TN-based Ex-Cult’s raw, desperately urgent and bruising album Midnight Passenger, last year the city primarily known as the home of classic soul suddenly emerged as the home of an impressive and downright forceful hardcore punk scene. And with a sound that meshed elements of psychedelia, punk rock and trash the quartet caught attention for material that was anxious, furious howl that was deeply inspired by the touring life. Songs like “Shattered Circle,” “Midnight Passenger” and “Lights Out Club” capture a life of being on the road squeezing your gear and your bandmates in a van or a small car, sleeping on floors and couches, playing small, dank, sweaty clubs and repeating for months on end. It evokes repetitious and endless boredom and bursts of volatile unpredictability.
“Clinical Study” the latest single off the band’s recently released Cigarette Machine EP follows in the footsteps of the EP’s first single “Cigarette Machine” in the sense that it’s bleak, desperate, angry, scuzzy and abrasively forceful – and that shouldn’t be surprising as the EP draws from sordid and deeply personal experience. Whereas Passenger was inspired by the band’s exploits on tour, the material on Cigarette Machine draws heavily from vocalist Chris Shaw’s time as an American schoolboy in rural Germany.
The official video for the song was shot by a dear friend and fan of the band, Michael Valdes who shot live footage of the band while on they were on a short tour in Florida and it captures the raw, brutal intensity of their live shows. Just watching the video reminds me of a catching them at The Acheron and seeing them turn a room of jaded and phony hipsters into one of the most furious mosh pits I’ve seen in the better part of at least a year. I can still picture this one very petite and ballsy woman who was in the pit and got pushed so hard that she literally went airborne at a 45 degree angle and crashed into the wall in such a way that the top half of her hit the ball and the bottom half hit a step attached to the stage. It looked as though she were badly hurt – that is until she got up and went back into the pit as though nothing happened. Long live punk rock, indeed!