I had the good fortune to be invited to review Atlanta band Ex Wives’ show at the Earl on December 8th, in which they played a setlist based on their eponymous debut album characterized by rousing songs of anger, pain, resolve, and strength from a native Georgian’s perspective. Truly inspired by her surroundings, Mekenzie Jackson, lead singer of the four-piece ensemble, divulges her ambivalent and intensely personal experiences with her home state and struggles within her former marriage.
In her haunting and powerful voice, Jackson sings of the good in the “salty air” and “charming small towns,” the bad “racist jokes,” and the drive to escape to Nashville in the hopes of making it big only to realize that the Peach State, the place that raised her, will constantly call her back in “Oh Georgia.” The angry, twangy “No Name Town” (the only song not on the album) continues the theme of desire to leave a hometown that “doesn’t even have an original name,” plagued by “too many fast food chains.”
See the video for “Oh Georgia” produced by Atlanta’s own music video producers Video Rahim and Ashley Simpson below, as well as the footage I shot of “No Name Town” at the concert:
“No Name Town”
The Civil War, which left an indelible mark upon Atlanta’s history, is also hinted at in songs such as “Little Battles,” in which Jackson explicitly states “we’re headed for a civil war.” While not overtly about any specific war, “Burn,” one of the most haunting songs on the album, paints associated images in the line “the field has been burned and the bodies are being buried now.” The first song of the night, “Burn” not only calls to mind images of a city famously burned in battle, but it also conjures scenes of dazed, lifeless people reminiscent of the zombies on Atlanta-based television series The Walking Dead and Bible Belt apocalyptic imagery of a vast moonlit landscape where “the devil comes around.”
If the themes of many of Ex Wive’s songs are particular to Georgia, elements of traditionally Southern music help tie the band’s sound to their region, as well. Take “Angry Letters,” for example, which sounds like it could be the missing track of a Patsy Cline album:
Described as “Outlaw Shoegaze Southern Goth Party,” with Jackson on lead vocals, guitar, and piano, Alex Thrift on lead guitar, Nick Black on bass, and Gabriel Pline on drums, Ex Wives reflects a mixture of influences. I hear the echoes of Neko Case, Mazzy Star, Patsy Cline, and Fleetwood Mac. The latter influence should come as no surprise, as Jackson also performs as “Kenzie Nicks” in Rumours, Atlanta’s Fleetwood Mac tribute band.
The Fleetwood Mac (Stevie Nicks) sound can especially be heard in “Further to Fall”:
If you like your country mixed with a hint of atmospheric shoegaze, a pinch of revenge, and region-based autobiographical honesty, check out Ex Wives!
Thank you for reading, and I hope this has inspired you to support local bands!