Indie-rock buzz band EX NORWEGIAN formed in 2008 and found themselves performing at the CMJ Music Marathon by October only months after their first gig and the release of their first single "Something Unreal." Their debut full-length entitled Standby released March 17, 2009 on Dying Van Gogh Records is twelve tracks of true D.I.Y. indie rock and power-pop. Originally from the thriving melting pot scene brewing in Miami, it is nearly impossible to place the sound of the quartet geographically. On Standby the group's love of classic power-pop mixed with British-invasion sensibility creates an irresistibly catchy and unique style.
The band's chief singer/songwriter Roger Houdaille adds insight to the group's quick start. "It happened very organically and slightly unplanned…next thing we knew we were getting radio play and actually felt a bit of a demand for an album. So off we went!" If it weren't for the immediacy of interest in the band, the singer feels they wouldn't have rushed to record an album right away, but would have waited a bit longer. But that's now all in the past. Houdaille, who also plays guitar in the band, is joined by high school friend Carolina Souto on bass, Arturo Garcia on drums, and Venezuelan Billie G on guitar. Together they have successfully created their own special brand of catchy, sometimes-straight and sometimes-esoteric music that is quickly catching the interest of new fans all over the globe.
While many are quick to point out influences such as the Kinks, Lou Reed and Talking Heads, the group does a fine job at coming across as a bit of fresh air. Much of the lyrics on Standby possess a subtle, edgy cynicism, with irresistible grooves and melodies that are plentiful too, as is the use of the all-powerful, scarily omnivorous mellotron. EX NORWEGIAN'S choice of band name usually demands some explanation -- its curious origin is from a Monty Python episode; as does their album title -- Standby started off as an inside joke but soon found a deeper meaning in today's political climate. A handful of songs on the disc are political in nature, despite Houdaille's allegations: "I tried to avoid writing blatantly political songs, but ultimately there are few on the album, including "My Name Is Paul" which is dedicated to former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz."
In anticipation of their debut album, two singles were released in 2008, the irresistible Shins-styled folk-pop "Something Unreal" and the 7" vinyl release "Dance Trance Pants" which falls neatly somewhere in between The Killers and seventies glam epitomized by bands like T. Rex. The success of these singles was accompanied by numerous live performances throughout the US including an appearance on European TV network Sky News where the band performed before millions of viewers excited by the group's youthful energy and fresh sound.