Ex-Girls index: CDs; Other Projects; Live
Kirilola--bass, vocal, casiotone & synthesizer
Keikos--guitar & vocal (Filled in after Chihiro left. Formerly with SUPER JUNKY MONKEY. Helped to record the Endangered Species CD and then left the band. Returned again when Zorek departed.)
Yoko--drums & vocal (Filled in after Chapple left the band.)
Chapple--drums (filled in after Fuzukis departure)
Zorek--guitar (replaced Keikos)
Fuzuki--drums, vocal, casiotone, percussion, recorder & kengari [left in late 2002(?) when marriage called]
Chihiro--guitar, vocal, recorder, chroma harp & toys (left during the 2001 U.S. tour)
Hoppy Kamiyama--produces, performs (mini-moog, SH-101, piano, emu-II, percussion, sax...) & co-writes many of their songs
Heppoco Pou -- (43:32) -- (1998) -- Paranoiz -- PAR-50016
|More than unique, EX-GIRL are strangely unpredictable from one song to the next, and even within a song. They go from rock, to noise, to pop, to spooky, and keep you off-balance with pounding drums, odd instrumentation and odder arrangements. The vocals add the strangest spice. They can adopt a pop feel, even doing harmony, but often theyre each doing something diferent. The odd approach isnt always easily digestible, but its a full meal. This is a sound you havent heard before, and you wont recognize James Browns Sex Machine.|
Kero! Kero! Kero! (Ribbet! Ribbet! Ribbet!) -- (44:35) -- (1999)
-- Paranoiz -- PAR-50020
|The first four songs on this CD seem more refined. Everything about them is slicker, more polished and poppier. There is still an outrageousness, but its aim seems to be fun rather than outrage. In the second half we get into some of the artier, more difficult to digest, material. Its mostly quite worthwhile, though the thirteen-minute Space Mushroom seems a pointless indulgence. There is a charming, other-worldliness to EX-GIRL that is refreshing. Even without Hoppy, this would be an interesting group. In his hands their range is startling.|
Big When Far, Small When Close -- (25:35) -- (2000) -- KiKi Poo
|This is a change of pace. Except for the makeshift brass band in Brecht & Weills Alabama Song; and the tribal drums of the ceremonial Zozoi; BWF, SWC features the glorious vocals of EX-GIRL, mostly a cappella. Some impressive vocal dexterity is on display here, and the arrangements are multi-dimensional and often surreal. Conceptually, Im a bit lost. This is a bigger world than Im accustomed to, but use the enclosed booklets drawings, lyrics, and translations, as a guidebook. In time, this new world may even become delightful.|
|The Legend Of The Waterbreakers -- (51:44) -- (2001) -- Kiki Poo -- KPCD-005|
|Legend Of The Waterbreakers is a film by Naoko Nozawa (of THE ASS BABOONS OF VENUS). Its about a popular all-gal rock band (EX-GIRL), who simultaneously all get pregnant, but their fans wont allow them to break up the band, until in the dramatic final scene they all give birth on stage. Most of this is Hoppy doing inventive, but very low-budget soundtrack music, however, the first five are EX-GIRL tunes, and may well be worth the price of admission. Theyll have you redefining what EX-GIRL is, again, and, Ill bet, dying to see how the movie compares to A Hard Days Night and Head! Hey, I am!|
Back To The Mono Kero! -- (55:13) -- (2001) -- Ipecac Recordings -- IPC-15 (U.S. release)
|Theres lots of wild, experimental fun, but this is easily the best EX-GIRL CD yet, and its a U.S. release! Yes, its still their sound. At a beat from Fuzukis drumstick songs change identity. Cucumber Surrender features operatic vocals. Even the slower-paced Crime Of The Century (9:46) is an enjoyable excursion, and almost a relief from the often frantic pace. A message from eX-Girl? Take us to the millennium coaster/Some danger and hopes are waiting/Get through the surprising darkness. OK, well sing their version of Pop Muzik on our way!|
Pop Muzik -- (17:01) -- (2001) -- Prime Direction, Inc. -- PQCD-10010
|Yep, its got the lyrics, so you can sing along with Robin Scott (thanks to the glory of sampling), as he joins EX-GIRL on the extended (7:33) dance remix of his song, Pop Muzik. Its a great song, and EX-GIRL were the perfect band to redo it. For those who own Back To The Mono Kero!, Swanky*Spunky*Slinky is the other incentive to purchase this. Its an upbeat and intriguing tune about various planets having strange problems and requesting our help. For those who dont own Back To The Mono Kero!, buy it already! Its a U.S. release, and with no postage, will be cheaper than this EP.|
Luna Rosé -- (22:48) -- (2002) -- Avex Inc. -- RRCD-85325
|The coolest thing about this release is that the band is in transition. Keiko has joined and brought her sometimes subtle. sometimes enormous guitar sound, but Fuzukis trogglodyte drums are still pounding away. Hoppy Kamiyamas rich production makes the karaoke versions worthwhile, and shows off the growth in EX-GIRLs sound. Hoppys keyboards flirt with a disco/dance sound in both songs, but EX-GIRLs vocals, though slightly more traditional in approach, go their own way, as always, and Keikos guitar seems more than capable of leading it all back toward the rock.|
Endangered Species -- (49:41) -- (2004) -- Alternative Tentacles Records -- VIRUS-313CD
|Its the new, full-length, EX-GIRL CD weve been waiting for, and, as usual, its too much to comprehend. Hoppy and Kirilola are a true team. Hoppy writes most of the music. Kirilola writes most of the lyrics. Hoppy has produced a very futuristic, but beautiful, rock sound; and Kirilola and her cohorts have curbed the vocal shenanigans, yet, regularly surprise and delight. Ex-EX-GIRL, Fuzuki, appears on three songs, and Keikos leaves us a measure of her mighty guitar. Its a more traditional release for EX-GIRL, but with its power, beauty, richness, and density, I very much doubt the fans will complain.|
eX-Girl/Deni Bonet--Arlene Grocery--3/23/99
I was there to see EX-GIRL. I totally lucked out. I just happened to drop into Sounds on the way home, and noticed a poster saying that theyd be playing at Arlene Grocery tonight. I had previously heard that they were from Japan, so I made a point of being there. They were incredibly unique in sound and performance, was what I wrote down on their questionnaire, which they called their mailing list. I was not lying. Their sound was very primitive and repetitive, but then each of the trio would do technically impressive things. They could definitely play, but they kept returning to the simplistic repetition. The drummer, Fuzuki, stood the entire time and pounded out the rhythm, but then in one song she did long drum rolls. Most songs had rebellious noise breaks, and various vocal shenanigans. They are all good singers, but for the most part seem inspired by Yoko Ono and the B-52S to assault the listener aurally. This often continued in their between song patter, which seemed rehearsed down to the screech. There was a lot of futuristic/robot feel to their sound and stage performance, so there may be a DEVO influence as well, but these girls are not joking, or at least not letting us in on it. Their first song featured each of them in 3ft. foam things that fit over their heads in grotesque 50s flip hair-dos. Tofu No Uta was an a cappela song. The simplistic repetitive beat was the only thing you could really count on. In a couple of songs, sections would suddenly switch into straight pop, with sweet vocals, and then back again to their unique attack on music. Part of it was satire, but without a smile. Most of the songs were in English, though difficult to understand. I was surprised and delighted and I wish them well.
I picked up both their CDs and talked with Fuzuki, the drummer, for a few minutes. She was quite sweet, and her English was good, though she did seem to get a bit confused when another fan began speaking to her in normal-speed English. She told me about their producer Hoppy Kamiyama, who was with them, and that previously drums had been a hobby of hers, but she had never imagined performing with them. Previously she had been a singer, and it seemed that they all had. They are from Tokyo and are thinking Americans may understand them better than Japanese. They are only one and a half years old as a band, and are doing this American tour with the hope of landing a big label. All three members of the band seemed quite pleasant and open offstage.
eX-Girl/The Hissyfits--Coney Island High--3/25/99
I arrived late, and believe I missed nearly half of EX-GIRLs set. As far as I could tell they were playing exactly the same set, and very much in the same way. It was pretty impressive how very similar the two sets Ive seen were. The bassist goes for an aggressively sexy persona; the drummer plays the robot, with no inspired moves; the guitarist is not so definable. They did lose some authority with the smaller stage of Coney Island Highs upstairs. The biggest difference was their costumes. On Tuesday at Arlene Grocery, they wore shiny, white, plastic outfits, with matching mini-skirts. Each had a different colored stripe across the chest. Tonight they were each wearing different-colored, short nightgowns, quite similar to those on the cover of their new CD, Kero! Kero! Kero! After the show, they were just as friendly and sweet as they had been at Arlene Grocery, talking with anyone who wanted to say, Hi! and I even saw them posing for a picture with a fan.
THE HISSYFITS started up in a timely fashion and were OK, but compared to the originality and startlingly unique approach of EX-GIRL, they had nothing. After four songs I went and talked some with Kirilo, EX-GIRLs bassist. She informed me that they had played L.A., San Francisco, Seattle, Austin and were headed back to Japan on Sunday.
The same band three times in one week? Hey, it was free, and theyre so unique that Im not gonna see anything like them until they come back again. I was able to watch from behind the set-up this time, and so get a different view, and a better idea of the drummers performance. Previously shes always had a microphone in front of her face or (at Coney Island High) been hidden in shadows. There were no changes of expression to watch, though. She pounds on the drums and sings. The audience was not theirs. It was mostly just people who happened to drop into Kims. It seemed that the great majority of those who happened to walk in on it did get their curiosity piqued, but didnt much like it. EX-GIRL did fine though, doing their act the way they do it, and even adding a couple of songs I didnt remember hearing before. Afterward they seemed a bit unsure of how to deal with a crowd who werent interested, but I got the idea they were comfortable doing their job. They were probably happy to have the tour over with, too. Theyre an impressive band.
eX-Girl/John Zorns Cobra--Tonic--5/19/00
EX-GIRL came out, set up their equipment, did a quick sound-check and left the stage. Five minutes later they slowly made their way through the crowd in large pink wigs with long tendrils which they used to teasingly whip their fans and each other. The wigs, with a space in them for small pets, lasted only one song. The band wore dresses with the colors rearranged so that each was individual. They started off with a new rockin song, which I liked. Most of the rest of the material was from their first two releases. I only recognized one song from Big When Far, Small When Close. The a cappela work they did do, Tofu Song and some song interludes, was impressive, so Im surprised they didnt do more. They are a very unique band. Kirilo had foot-pedals that would send out strange wavering notes. Chihiros guitar answered them with shuddering chords that quivered and dissipated. Neither of them matched the vocal interjections. Songs would stop, change gears several times and eventually return to their origins. The reasonably sized crowd obviously enjoyed the humorous presentation of this very original music, and rewarded EX-GIRL with much cheering and applause. The encore, played in their white plastic raincoats, was one of the best songs of the set and ended things on a wonderful note. I was able to talk with them after the show, and again found them friendly, open, and doing a brisk business with an impressive range of merchandise.
EX-GIRL were set up when I entered. Before they began, I was able to check out their array on the floor, and though there werent a surprising amount of pedals and boxes for a band these days, it surprised me anyway. I had heard their array of sounds, and there on the floor were some of the means. The Casio-style keyboard at Kirilos feet did seem a bit out of place, but if it works, one cant complain. I knew Alabama Song was the cue for their entrance, so when it came on, I was ready for the three huge pink wigs slowly making their way toward the stage. It was another wonderful show and they made me happy to have come. They played several new songs, and from what Ive heard on this tour, the new songs are more creative, livelier, and often more rockin than the wonderful material weve heard so far. The new metallic colored costumes were a nice surprise, too. Their arsenal of sounds is expanding quickly, and it was good to see them in Mercury Lounge, probably my favorite small club here in NYC. Fuzuki pounds her way through the new sounds and the old ones. She may have even added a cymbal or two. It was wonderful to see them again and hear the new songs and the growth of EX-GIRLs sound. Still, no matter how fast they continue to grow, we can pretty much count on their vocals remaining the dominant force. They played a new a cappela song tonight, and that will obviously continue. Before the show, a woman had asked me who I was there to see. After their performance, she said she could see why, admitting that, They were really good! Theres no band like them.
eX-Girl--Knitting Factory--May 15, 2004
SKELETON KEYs set ended, and a screen came down. Fittingly enough, they began showing an anime, which later was showing on the monitors in the bar. I was informed by my friend, Mr. Oni, and a friend of his that it was Castle of Cagliostro! from the Lupin series, and that this particular one was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. When the screen finally arose, well before the movie ended, there were EX-GIRL, front and center, the three of them in a row, with red headdresses that gave them the look of animated flowers. At times just Kirilola was visible, at others they leaned this way and that so that it looked like they were all part of one big flower. They soon removed the headdresses, showing that each had a peculiar hairstlye all their own. Kirilola, on bass, is the only original member. Chapple is the new drummer, and plays a full-set. Her tom-tom runs were always a nice addition to the sound. Zorek, the new guitarist, had a very unique style. Her repetitive runs were often odd, and surprisingly intricate, sometimes sounding more like keyboard finger exercises than guitar lines, and yet, they were played so skillfully, they had a mesmerizing affect. Kirilola has added three keyboards to her on-stage arsenal. The keyboards were used for effects and accents, but largely she relied on her bass. Most of the material was from their new Endangered Species CD, which they played well, though the fullness of that CD would probably take a larger band to truly recreate. The new band and new material is a move toward a more traditional rock sound for EX-GIRL, but a good dose of their original and varied approach remains, and their idiosyncratic live performance, though not as outrageously surprising as the previous shows IÕve seen, was joyful, humorous, and good rockin fun. The three-pronged vocal attack remains strong, though I do miss Fuzukis operatic strain. One of my favorite touches was the giant frog doll/backdrop, which rose up behind them, and whose arms reached around them on either side. The audience was warm and enthusiastic, but failed to bring them out for an encore.
|PUNK LADY (eX-Girl in disguise)|
|Chihiro--vocal & guitar
Kirilo--vocal & bass
Fuzuki--vocal & drums
Nagisa No Sinbad (Sinbad Of The Shore) -- (13:01) -- (1999) --
Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc. -- SRCL 4493
|This is EX-GIRL doing some of PINK LADYs biggest hits under the name PUNK LADY. Its a great concept! Some may disagree, but these songs, as sung by PINK LADY, were great, stupid, pop songs. Considering EX-GIRLs vocal prowess, and Hoppys production skills, I expected an inspirational tribute. It sounds like everyone took the punk approach to heart, though, and knocked this out pretty quickly. Its good fun, and the covers great, but the music, unfortunately, only occasionally matches the inspirational heights of the concept.|
Akasau -- (40:53) -- (2004) -- Domo Records, Inc. -- 73031-2
|Besides Kirilolas spiritual vocals, and shaken bells, Akikazu Nakamura is featured in four songs on Shakuhachi (a large Japanese wooden flute), and five songs feature percussion by Whacho. When she handed it to me, Kirilola called it, New Age music. With the shakuhachi, bells, and percussion, it has a traditional Japanese music feel. My knowledge of both these musics is negligible. However, the music here does seem to awaken my senses, and give me a feeling of spiritual peace, and balance. So, perhaps the healing qualities claimed in the liner notes are not so farfetched.|