what I'm listening to: memento mori by exit clov

I'm a big fan of Exit Clov. Fronted by twin sisters Emily and Susan Hsu, the D.C.-based indie rock band has got a really great sometimes folky, sometimes pop-punk sound. It's been out since the beginning of the year, but I've listening a lot to their most recent record, Memento Mori.

I really dug their their previous EP Respond Respond, but think this album has a more cohesive sound, largely thanks to an emphasis on the Hsu sisters' kickass vocals. Eleven songs, crafted in the band's self-described "pop noir" style. Here's the Washington Post review from January:
A "memento mori" is an object that reminds us of our demise, like an hourglass or a skull. Although Exit Clov's new CD, "Memento Mori," doesn't exactly fulfill that purpose, it is haunted by mortality.

Previously, this local quintet pitted Emily and Susan Hsu's folkie melodies against pop-punk jauntiness and jam-band proclivities. This album has a more unified style, emphasizing the sisters' voices as they ponder love and death (and God and political repression). Guitarist Aaron Leeder, bassist Brett Niederman and drummer John Thayer still have plenty to do, but highlights such as "Death Is a Song" primarily showcase keyboard-violinist Emily and guitarist-violinist Susan.

These 11 songs include several with up-tempo refrains, notably the piano-driven "The Hate" and the bouncy "Kindest Creatures." But the group now uses raucous tones and lively beats mostly as counterpoints to gentle ballads. The result is a CD that could use a little more rhythmic variety and whose musings may not translate fully when performed live. Tunes such as "District Menagerie," a trip-hop meditation on life's disappointments "down on R Street," aren't designed for arenas. Still, "Memento Mori" is the band's most assured work, rapturous in a hushed way.
I love this band. I should also note that I went to college with Emily and Susan, so that's makes them extra kickass. To learn more about Exit Clov and their music, visit the band's website here, and their MySpace page here. And get your hands on Memento Mori at the usual spots like Amazon and iTunesicon.

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