Catch My Shoe (Ex Records)
The long-running Dutch punk band the Ex's reputation rests largely on its consistency, especially over the last 20 years. That's fair—since rising above its straight-ahead punk roots with 1989's Joggers and Smoggers, the band has reliably turned out an album of chugging, pulsing art-rock every five years or so, and each has been worth the wait. But the very idea of consistency is at odds with the band's restless experimentation and its collaborative spirit, particularly on recordings with the late cellist Tom Cora and the Ethiopian saxophonist Getatchew Mekurya.
So Catch My Shoe is another Ex album. And while it shares common ground—austere baritone guitar riffs that build to knotty, anxious grooves—with 2004's Turn, 2001's Dizzy Spells, and 1998's Starters Alternators, Catch My Shoe is the start of a whole new chapter for the band. The disc marks the first appearance on record by new vocalist Arnold de Boer, who replaced longtime frontman G.W. Sok in 2009; now guitarist Terrie Hessels is the only remaining original member of the band. But Catch My Shoe demonstrates the power of the Ex as a corporate enterprise bigger than its individual members. De Boer's cool, declamatory vocals and additional guitar don't break the band's existing template but do add fresh enthusiasm and youthful presence. With lineup changes like this, the Ex shouldn't have any trouble surviving another 30 years.