Listen Up: Wednesday, March 22, 2006
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Exene Cervenka and the Original Sinners

Sev7en (Nitro Records)

By Tom Urquhart

In an age of old-school comebacks, some bands seem to be coasting on past glory, just cashing in, while others actually have something to say. Naturally, most of the better outfits have been saying it but have had to wait ’til today for retro fever to catch up with them. Case in point: OPC (Original Punk Chick) Exene Cervenka.

Probably best known as co-founder of and episodic frontwoman for watershed punk band X, Cervenka has managed to not just survive but flourish. Since her band helped launch the L.A. punk scene, she could have easily lived comfortably off her reputation. Instead, she’s helmed several bands, produced visual art exhibits across the country, and has been integral in the development of the spoken-word poetry phenomenon.

Although she still gigs with X and the country music quintet she co-created, the Knitters, Cervenka’s apparent restlessness and multidisciplinary talents are manifest in another fine ensemble, the Original Sinners. They’re celebrating their second incarnation with a new disc, the Sinners’ second overall.

On the Sinners’ new one, Sev7en, you won’t find anything really earth-shattering, but the band is tight and fluid, and Exene — with her icy whine — always satisfies a jones for melodrama.

What’s really cool is that she doesn’t phone it in, which you gotta admire in light of the fact that she’s been doing the punk thing for three decades-plus. Even better is that with a newfound emphasis on the countrified elements of her music, her voice sounds focused and more sure than ever.

Somehow, Cervenka et al. whips up an X-ish cocktail of noir country, folk, and punk (and not necessarily in that order) and makes it infectious and catchy without sinking into cheesiness. The sound is punk but not in the Green Day way. Think: harder and less-bouncy rockabilly.

Unlike the Sinners’ first release, Sev7en seems much more relaxed and carefree. On tracks like “Sky Blue Pink” and “History Now,” you can practically hear Cervenka smile as she lofts her patented wails to the stratosphere.

Fans of Cervenka’s darker, angrier material are advised to dig into the X back catalogue. Sev7en may not be especially progressive, but it’s still fun and intelligent listening.



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