The Ex-Optimists, “Nitemare City”/“February”

The Ex-Optimists, Nitemare City/February

I’m honestly kicking myself now for not listening to this sooner. College Station band The Ex-Optimists have been on repeat in my headphones for a while now, drowning me in a turbulent squall of Sonic Youth guitars, driving ’90s indie-drone-rock melodies, and hazy, softspoken vocals, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it.

On “Nitemare City,” the guitars are watery and sharp-edged in equal measure, drifting around you like psychically-controlled knives that periodically dart in to gouge out a chunk of your flesh. In the meantime, frontman Kelly Minnis serenely murmurs and croons like he’s already lost in the swirling murk; that is, until the whole damn thing explodes in a ball of fury partway through before coalescing back into its more stable previous state. The closest thing I can come up with is Houston’s own Muhammad Ali, except that this quartet sounds like they’re fueled less by beer and more by green, leafy substances.

Then there’s B-side “February,” which dives sideways into nearly Dinosaur Jr., quick-stepping along through an insanely-catchy melody while the overfuzzed guitars set fire to the scenery. Occasionally feels like I’m listening to a rougher-edged Silversun Pickups — there’s definitely a hazy, shoegaze quality to it, beneath the out-and-out noise.

There’re two extra B-sides if you get the 7″, but sadly, I haven’t heard ’em, so you’re on your own there. Even still, though, it’s more than worth it to fall headfirst into a deep, muddy, warm pool of nostalgia-inducing, awesomely messy indie-rock like you (well, I) used to listen to when you were a kid.

[The Ex-Optimists are playing 7/20/12 at Mango’s, along with The Busy Kids, The Wrong Ones, & Mike the Engineer.]
(Sinkhole Texas Inc. --; The Ex-Optimists --; The Ex-Optimists (Myspace) --
BUY ME: Other

Review by . Review posted Friday, July 20th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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5 Responses to “The Ex-Optimists, “Nitemare City”/“February””

  1. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 1: Toadies + Helmet + Ume + The Ex-Optimists + Rock Baby Rock It + Art Institute + More on July 20th, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    […] of their kinda-sorta-recent 7″, “Nitemare City”/”February,” over here, or go snag their newer live album, See the Dirt Gang, for free over […]

  2. Jason Smith on July 22nd, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t know if the offer still stands(you should ask!), but a few months ago when I bought the 7″ vinyl from them, they included a download of their last album. So I got about 20 songs for $5. I think they’re even better live than on record, but listening to the record has also made me enjoy them more live… Also, note to Houston bands: if you want to play Bryan/College Station, this is one of the best bands to do shows with.

  3. SPACE CITY ROCK » !Yes Indeed! Music Fest, Coming This Month on September 6th, 2012 at 11:14 am

    […] have Bryan band The Ex-Optimists on the bill, which is very cool by me — I reviewed their “Nitemare City”/”February” 7-inch a few months ago and was bowled over by the band’s mid-’90s-ish, heavily drone-y […]

  4. SPACE CITY ROCK » !Yes Indeed! Fest Tiger Beat Rundown: The Ex-Optimists on September 28th, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    […] Today we’re picking the brain of Kelly Minnis, singer/guitarist for excellent, excellent, College Station-dwelling, Sonic Youth-y drone-rockers The Ex-Optimists. We reviewed their “Nitemare City” 7″ back in July, and yeah, it was/is pretty damn awesome; check the review out over here. […]

  5. SPACE CITY ROCK » Yr. Weekend, Pt. 2: The Suffers + The Ex-Optimists + Action Frank + Pre-Holiday Slaughter + The Blistering Speeds + More on December 22nd, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    […] they put out earlier this year, and I like it a hell of a lot — check out the review over here, then make plans to head over to the Ponde Rosa (assuming you know where it is) after whatever […]

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