By: Eliza Coolidge
There are not many men who dare to bare their nipples through the trials of a New York winter. One, who you can always count on, is Rex. The barefooted, overalls-only frontman of The Rex Complex is a might unreckoned. Though crunk, experimental and roots music are noted as the band's aesthetic posts, The Rex Complex charmingly darts and diverts through a tremendous variety of sounds, forming a new generation's book of Americana.
Their 11 track album, A Delicious Victory, does not presuppose the virtue of its title but charismatically charges its self-given prophecy. The album begins, no short of an extraordinary entrance, with "Debutante Brawl." Theatrical and warped, a short-legged polka hobbles center. Beckoning us in, two wailing voices lament "oh no, debutante brawl," inciting curiosity in the listener. Soon following, a woman begins to tell her story of the famed debutante bitch-bash. As her stately narration unravels into a ruction of screeches and accusations, we sense that The Rex Complex is slowly peeling back the curtain, unearthing a Bushwick Fantasy Freakshow, luring us and our unabashed hankering for the outre and entropic. Whispering in the eager ear, step right on up, step right on up…
Continuing to conduct their circus of debaucheries and delights, "Mafia Landlord" erupts with a Pulp Fiction-like guitar intro. The vocals retain the raw, uninhibitedness of a live performance. Growling, howling and screaming, Rex entices the listener to find a pit to mosh. Though, even Rex's animation finds itself jockeyed by the guitar solo—a feral scramble of a beast unfed, all the shred and distortion you would ever want (or need) trailing behind an unidentifiable carcass of wreckage. Brilliant.
Though counting their proclivities for bedlam, The Rex Complex also endears with more narrational songs. "Refuge on a Front Porch" reveals a more pastel side of the group. The guitar, drums and percussion tightly blend in a polyrhythmic fuse, sourcing an alloy of back porch banjo and West African traditional guitar. Rex's lyrics deepen the lightness of the groove with terrific storytelling. At times when the clarity of Rex's lyrics are sacrificed in place of his sensational mania, it is refreshing to be able to understand what he's actually talking about.
As virtuous to their live performance as A Delicious Victory may be, this band deserves to be heard while on the stage. All said, you would be hard-pressed to find a more exhilarating live performance in New York. One cautionary note, be sure to tie your boots tight. You will dance. You will rage.