The songs of Exitmusic are some of the most haunting and memorable of the year. Aleksa Palladino and Devon Church make some seriously gorgeous music. Take “Passage”, for instance – it’s the title track of their excellent 2012 release on Secretly Canadian. Starting with quiet pianos and deliberate melodies, the song builds to a earsplitting climax of pain, tumult, and conviction that few songs this year have surpassed. But Passage is no one hit album. After this glorious opening, the album touches on bits of Beach House-esque shoegaze, but elsewhere, drives the volume up the arena-rocking levels with epic tunes like “White Noise”. With one of the best records of the year, Exitmusic is a tremulant and challenging band that will take you to your heart’s edge, and seeing them live this week at Iceland Airwaves, none of the above has changed.
In the closing set for Day 2 of KEXP’s live broadcast at KEX Hostel in Reykjavik, Exitmusic opened with “The Night,” a shoegazey track with vocals that hover somewhere between Nico and Victoria Legrand, but Palladino’s voice goes a step beyond, bursting out with incredible force. Their songs varied between quiet and synth-focused and super heavy shoegazey post-rock, all of which compliment Palladino’s powerful, almost glutteral voice. Their final song “sparks of light,” was sublimely haunting, with bursts of hard-hitting shoegazey goodness.