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Review: Gold Stars to EX ØMERTA as they release debut self-titled album

Band Members:
Scott Beattie – drums/vocals/keys
Dale McIntyre – guitar/vocals
Spencer Bauer – bass

Location: Winnipeg, MB

EX ØMERTA released their self-titled debut on July 5th, 2019. I attended their release show at the Good Will Social Club in Winnipeg. The line up for the release party included NORTHERN ROYALS, THE BOY & THE SEA, and LOA.

EX ØMERTA’s alternative/hard rock has been around since 2017 and they have released a few singles. The band is known best for having a lead singing drummer. This 11 track debut album is long awaited by fans and many wonder what took so long. I don’t think anyone will argue it was worth the wait.

I tend to look for something to criticize. I’m like the teacher that doesn’t want to give 100% because she wants to encourage improvement. Not only does EX ØMERTA get 100% on their debut album, their CD release gig, and their business sense, they get several gold stars.

Gold Star #5 Social Media / Online Presence

I’ve been following EX ØMERTA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube for a while now. They are great at updating and sharing information. They respond right away to PM’s. You can find information about upcoming gigs and past gigs. They have a website, which looks like it will be active now that the album is released. The album is available to buy or stream on Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music and Deezer. As well, you can google them and find many interviews, despite this being their first album. It may seem like a small thing in the digital age we live in, but many bands fail at social media and an online presence. Don’t underestimate this band. They know how to communicate.

Gold Star #4 Branding

Beattie has said his suspenders are influenced by the simple image he saw created with Jack White’s White Stripes. I think Beattie looks like someone straight out of the 80‘s with his slim physique and the suspenders matching his pants and contrasting with his shirt. Whatever look he is going for, it’s easily recognizable and the fact that he has consciously created this look speaks to how much he understands branding.

Another win in the band’s branding is their name. Fans know you don’t spell it Ex Omerta, or Ex-Omerta or Exomerta. The O is crossed out. It is always Ex Ømerta. If you don’t know that, you’re new. The band name looks amazing on merch and on their self-titled album cover. They also have a story to go with the choosing of the band name. The story backs up the band’s image of themselves as anarchists. Brand name marketing 101.

Gold Star #3 Work Ethic

Saturday’s show was highlighted with a light show created for the multiple videographers there from Bandits Media who were filming the CD Release show for upcoming music videos. It gave the show the drama it needed and made it look more like a concert. In contrast to other artists who treat their CD Release like a family celebration with their followers and family members, EX ØMERTA gave the audience a concert. It was bigger than anyone expected at a little venue like the Good Will Social Club.

The fact that the band would tie-in a video shoot at their CD release shows foresight. The opportunity was not lost. This is an expensive thing to do.

I’d also like to give props to the band for inviting 3 other bands to the show. It shows community and support. It shows a lack of ego. It also shows good business sense. The other bands will bring their audience and together with the EX ØMERTA audience, everyone benefits.

The band played through their set seamlessly and professionally. The show was well thought out and beautifully orchestrated. It’s obvious a lot of hours of rehearsal has gone into their live performance. They played like a band that just toured their debut album rather than a band that just released the album. They work hard.

Gold Star #2 Having Their Own Voice

They call it controlled chaos. It’s not chaotic at all and instead is full of stops, starts, accents, builds and dynamics that allow your ears to hear every single element despite the music being loud and energetic. The rhythm is precise. The pitch is perfectly in tune. The melodic phrases are tight. It’s intense, but at the right volume.

Their music gets compared to Jack White. It’s not fair to compare them to Jack White. Sure Beattie’s voice sounds like White’s and the stops and starts in their music are reminiscent of White’s style. Beattie has said White is an influence, but EX ØMERTA has their own unique style. I think very much like White, they are influenced by the town they come from. Winnipeg has a vibrant and talented music community filled with every genre. Elements of blues, rock, pop, electronica, folk and country are sewn into their music like beads on a moccassin. It makes the music hard to define other than rock because it’s so intense and heavy. It’s not just rock. It’s unique. It’s a voice.

What they say about their sound: “This is a band that combines the locked-in rock of Royal Blood with the seductive groove of Arctic Monkeys and pure punk rock piss and vinegar in a combustible concoction that defies both definition and decorum.”

Their own description of themselves makes them sound like they may be garagy…but they are far from it. The band is tight, organized and understand how to be loud without being too loud; how to be intense, but still relatable and approachable. The lyrics are clear and every instrument is heard. Their mix is perfect and that is as much in the writing of the songs as it is in the recording or soundboard.

Personally, I think they are better than both Royal Blood and Arctic Monkeys. They’ve also been compared to Queens of the Stone Age. That also doesn’t do them justice. Also, the comparison to Jack White doesn’t translate to their stage show. I saw Jack White recently in Winnipeg and he looked shy on stage. He turned his back often to the crowd and I wasn’t able to feel connected to him, despite being a huge fan of his music. I’ve seen the band live a few times and EX ØMERTA gives an entertaining and theatrical performance and is not removed from the people they are performing for. All eyes are on the audience. All members of the band connect. Of course, we haven’t seen them perform at MTS Centre. Hopefully, they’ll never be shy.

Gold Star #1 Album Production

The songwriting prowess of EX ØMERTA is beautifully displayed in this debut album. I asked McIntyre who they worked with.

“We recorded this album with our producer and fourth member, Mike Nash, last February. Nash has always been a mentor and an older brother, and we take any chance to get him to Winnipeg from his home in Montreal. We went out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere with the intentions of recording 3 demos, including “Sink In”. Instead, we spent 3 days writing the entire record, and a couple of weeks later we regrouped to begin recording. 5 days blurred past while we worked around the clock to make everything sound the way we all heard it in our heads. Some magical microphones and extremely out-of-place acoustic guitars made for some of the grittiest guitar tones, that you would swear are overdriven electrics. Some group vocals were laid down late into the night as friends came by the cabin, giving us the perfect anthem-like vibe for choruses like “Romantic Horror.” Most of the lyrics on this record were written during this cabin session in a stream-of-consciousness, laid down right away without losing the vibe, and that is ultimately what we wanted to achieve across this collection; a statement, made with conviction and captured the moment it came to fruition. That’s where the rawness of this album comes from. We wanted to make a record that makes you feel invincible. It’s our first big statement; we are here, and we won’t come quietly.”

To be clear, Mike Nash (Blue Rodeo, Mise En Scene, The Dears) is not in the band. They’re just close.

Although I agree that the album has a quality of rawness, Nash and the band achieved a very professional quality album. The song order is thought out. The production is good. It’s not over-produced, though, and the band is able to replicate it exactly on stage.

Stay tuned to EX ØMERTA on social media for information about their Fall tour. This hard working, 5 star band is coming your way.

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/6GuCKvkljkPoQbGZljnfoy

Apple music: https://music.apple.com/ca/album/ex-%C3%B8merta/1470176962

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ExOmerta/

Website: http://www.exomerta.com/

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