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