To fully grasp Exit Clov's mash-up of musical genres, take a listen to Respond Respond's kick-off track "DIY." A violin plays the opening riff, synchronized vocals anchor the chorus, and ‘80s-sounding keyboards harmonize atop the violin during a Nintendo-sounding solo break.
Just when you think the song is over, the band launches into a percussion interlude. Whistles blow, cymbals crash, and cowbells boink in polyrhythmic precision. Then Exit Clov flies into the solo section again, with Aaron Leeder's electric guitar joining the keyboard/violin mix. The chorus resurfaces, jabbing its hook-laden melodies into the listener's eardrums, and then it's over. Bam. Just like that. Four minutes of foot-thumping, genre-jumping music. And if you think it sounds great on record, you should hear it live.
Exit Clov formed in 2003, taking their name from a stage direction in Samuel Beckett's Endgame. Fronted by twin sisters Emily and Susan Hsu, the D.C.-based quintet mixes politically-aware lyrics with indie-rock guitars, new wave keyboards, and bleeding vocal harmonies. Violin and the occasional discobeat Rod Stewart cover are also thrown into the mix.
Exit Clov made a grand entrance into the D.C. scene, releasing four EPs within their first three years (two of which – Starfish and Saskwatch - were self-produced). "Their harmonies will suck you in," wrote one local newspaper, "even if the lyrics sometimes make you wish you had spent a little more time in your college library." Another publication, DC North, agreed: "The twins have amazingly harmonized voices that are so perfectly entwined, they sound as if they started rehearsing in the womb."
In 2006, Exit Clov released Respond Respond on Livewire Recordings. The EP features such songs as "Communist BBQ," a satirical take on the leftist, anti-American movements in Latin America. The band hit the road to promote the record, playing such events as the All Good Music Festival and CMJ Music Marathon. They've also shared the stage with bands like Spoon, Guided by Voices, and – bizarrely enough – Kayne West.
- Andrew Leahey