Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Exploding Hearts Live!

When they draw up a list of the saddest accidents in rock n' roll history, after that plane that went down with Richie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper but before the crash that took much of Lynyrd Skynrd away (still leaving us with the Rossington-Collins band and .38 Special) we need to add the van crash on July 20th 2003 that stopped the Exploding Hearts. After the Exploding Hearts' (vocalist/guitarist Adam Cox, bassist Matt Fitzgerald, guitarist Terry Six and drummer Jeremy Gage) touring van rolled over on Interstate Five just North of Eugen, Oregon only Terry Six and band manager, Rachelle Ramos, walked away. In their brief career the band had only released one stunning album, Guitar Romantic, and a batch of excellent singles (compiled as the album Shattered) before being cut-short.

But what a legacy! An alchemical distillation of power-pop's and punk rock's best tricks. While in their flamboyant image they did flirt with the studiedness of some 21st century retro-punk (the Briefs, Tranzmittors), musically they were never simply derivative. Instead they added a bratty insouciance to a bevvy of old styles and not just glam, punk and power-pop but also early sixties Motown (it's shocking how much "I'm a Pretender" sounds like an undiscovered Holland-Dozier-Holland song). It's a sad but exhilarating discography.

For those of you who have the albums (and you do don't you?) here's a balls-out live performance from KBOO done in 2003, which includes an otherwise unreleased cover of the Small Faces, "My Mind's Eye". So, while Terry Six survived to lead the more classicist power-pop band the Nice Boys and the band's Secret Weapon King Louie plays on and even Pitchfuck put the band in their near-incomprehensible list of 500 best songs of the aughts, there's no getting used to the fact that they're gone so fuckin' prematurely.

Download The Exploding Hearts Live


  1. Great piece about an amazing band. Crazy to think they died on the same night that they signed with Lookout Records. They might have been the band that saved Lookout...

    -Chase Valentine

  2. Roy

    Yeah Lookout needed some more good bands. Looking at their web-site I'm not sure on exactly what level the label still exists

  3. The Exploding Hearts were a total revelation to me when I first heard them. How could anyone be making pogo power pop this good in the 21st century? What a loss, what a loss...

  4. Thanks for this, from Portland who misses 'em.

  5. CPB
    I had the same feeling, glad I was able to pass it on.

    You're welcome Portland, we all miss your hometown boys.

  6. By the way KBOO (from whence this live set was taken) remains a great community radio station in Portland -- one of the oldest community stations in the country, and that means commerical free -- that can be streamed online at kboo.fm

    Fans of this blog should check out the show Drinking from Puddles on Wed. nights, among others (schedule at website, adjust to your time zone).

    -Jeff from Portland (no longer anonymous!) : )

  7. Jeff (fine name that!)
    Thanks for the added info (the best type of comment,really) - I added a hyper link.

  8. Their body of work is flawless, if tragically small. And definitely a band best heard on vinyl.

    Sonically, I think The Biters (Atlanta) are picking up right where the Hearts left off, and I haven't been as excited about a band's debut since I first picked up Guitar Romantic.

    Thank you for posting these live tracks. Hearing new recordings from a band that was gone way too soon is truly a treasure.

  9. mw
    Weird you should mention the Biters as the EH's heir apparent, as that is exactly what I designated them here:



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