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The Exit Strategy: City of Microphones

The Exit Strategy

City of Microphones

(Headless Actor)

In the world of rock music, the rejoinder “But you should/should’ve seen ’em live…” is used far too frequently. The implication is that while a band may sound good on record, the stage is where they really come/came to life. In some cases it’s true, but it’s rarely a helpful statement for those who “missed it.”

So, for the uninitiated, I’ll do a little summary on the Exit Strategy’s live shows.

Put simply, the band’s performances are totally, uncompromisingly loud, fierce and frenetic. Exit Strategy shows are sweat-drenched affairs and, to misuse a phrase, you’re either on the bus with the band or you ain’t, and if you ain’t you’d better leave the room ’cause there’s no chance to ignore this group when they hit their stride. Focused on the onstage histrionics of vocalist Mark Constantino, the Exit Strategy doesn’t leave much to the imagination; rather, the band puts everything it has forward for all to see. That’s pretty refreshing in a time when overt influences and unfulfilling mystique are the order of the day.

Amazingly, the Exit Strategy have managed to capture the ferocity, power and, inexplicably, the commitment contained in the group’s live shows. Constantino clearly holds nothing back in the studio; the singer’s vocal lines are spit out at a ferocious rate, yet delivered with enough conviction to waver or go straight into the red as needed. Guitarist Steven Kazba hones (seemingly) free-form lead lines, quite notably on the songs “Addition by Subtraction” and “All Circuits Are Dead,” into cohesive riffs that stay on the rails even when threatening to spill off the tracks. Likewise, the rhythm section of bass player Tony Flaminio and drummer Tim Turcott does far more than hold down the beat. Flaminio’s bass is featured prominently in the mix and slaps each song into a structure whether it wants one or not. Similarly, Turcott is no mere skins-basher but a thoughtful and razor sharp rhythm keeper who knows how to maintain an inventive and intense pulse for every song.

Produced and engineered by J. Robbins (of Jawbox/Burning Airlines fame), City of Microphones contains both intense hardcore freakouts and bonafide hit singles (when will I hear “The First, The Finest, The Future” or “X-Rays” on the radio, please?). In the hands of a lesser band, a title like City of Microphones could sound entirely boastful, if not a little ominous. Yet given the full-throttle delivery contained on each of the tracks on the Exit Strategy’s new CD, the title is entirely appropriate—maybe even a little modest.

mark norris

Tracy Morrow and the Magi Chippie and the Exit Strategy perform a joint CD release party on Saturday, November 24 at 10pm, at the Mohawk Place, 47 East Mohawk Street (855-3931, $5.