Comprised of multi-instrumentalists Jordan Brooks and Colin Killalea (who takes the lead on vocals), Ex-poets’ create introspective music for twilight times, headphone music for strolling city streets, or just leaning back and taking one last drag. Sonically they slide neatly between Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Nick Hakim, and like all the greatest music, Ex-poets’ songs allow for interpretation. For Jordan “Still Waiting”—with its thrumming bass line, sinuous synths, and a graceful topline that bears the fingerprints of Jeff Buckley at his most spare—the song explores present-day paralysis. For Colin it’s “a tribute to love and wanting to be alone with that person and the elements.” Jordan and Colin met over a
decade ago, two music nerds (from Illinois and Virginia, respectively) drawn to New York City to study music at The New School. They wound up in a jazz session together, Jordan on upright bass and Colin on sax, and quickly bonded. Their tastes are similarly eclectic and voracious: Wayne Shorter and Sun Ra and João Gilberto; the Books, Can, John Lennon and J Dilla (whose influence can be heard on album opener “Our Homes” where piano chords kick off an off-kilter dance with dusty beats until the grooves coalesce to a create a soothing swoon of a song).
Here's the bare bones of it: This song is magic—dusky, measured, sexy; familiar yet fresh, languorous, and possessing an intimacy and poise that bodes well for duo who have come clean out of nowhere. Kinda. Ex-poets are made up of vocalist Colin Killalea and Jordan Brooks. Both are ridiculously dextrous multi-instrumentalists (Brooks calls Killalea something of a "studio freak"), but in recent years, you may have caught them as the guitarist and bassist (respectively) providing the sauce for Albert Hammond Jr.'s band.
An odyssey into the sublime, Los Angeles-based duo Ex-Poets’ upcoming album Too Much Future finds serenity in the warm-dreaminess of its soundscapes. In the ensuing twilight that Jordan Brooks and Colin Killalea (both members of Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes solo project) have so quietly manifested a severe introspection runs deep throughout, one that seems to question more than it answers. But it’s in their unhinging pursuit of the abstract that Ex-Poets excels, conjuring up the purest moments of loneliness, regret, and unmitigated love.
Ex-poets’ “Tracks” is one of those songs that could soundtrack a daydream. It’s effervescent, dreamy and floating, featuring pleasant waves of synths and soft vocals over a simple but present drum beat, reminiscent of early Washed Out.
Jordan Brooks and Colin Killalea are the EX-POETS, and with songs like ‘Still Waiting’, they drench you with the molasses like sugar, crystalized in powered hesitations in love and affection – keeping you alive, sane.
Taking the slow ride through the jungles of love, isn’t easy. He was at the front of the small dingy, and the fog was too thick, sometimes, to navigate. It was a dangerous situation where the crew could have flipped overboard, and just die.
"Still Waiting" is a song that keeps things relatively simple. Anchored by the steady thrum of a cruising bassline that strides through the song like the coolest cat swaggering through the neighbourhood. It's the kind of animated opening that perfectly suits steady rolling down long avenues whether by car or on foot. Coupled with lithe synths that snake their way around Colin Killalea's purposely elliptical lyrics, the pair establish a smooth, summery groove albeit one with an underlying sense of longing. It's a song that succeeds in leaving a lasting emotional impression, something that the pair were keen to establish.
'Too Much Future' might come across as an easy-listening album, what with its laid-back tempo and moody, contemplative melodies, but half-way through the off-kilter jazz influenced opening track 'Our Homes', it's instantly clear that there's something much deeper at play here.
The track was "written after a fever dream while things were coming into clarity about a past relationship," according to Killalea, and intentionally shares a name with Louise Erdrich's novel Tracks. He called it an "elemental song" that is "mourning a loss, and set in nature." Influenced by Sade's album Lover's Rock, the resulting song is rich in texture and saturated with the sounds of heartbreak. The sonic intensity grows with each second, culminating in a climactic realization followed by a sudden yet necessary release.
“‘Tracks’ is a love song sharing a namesake with Lousie Erdrich’s Tracks, written after a fever dream while things were coming into clarity about a past relationship. “I’d fall into the ice only to break your heart.” Could never do enough, at least the way I saw it… It’s an elemental song, mourning a loss, and set in nature.