The transporting music of Exitmusic is so grandiose, so romantically rich, it could easily envelop a concert hall or cavernous church. It's a beautifully buzzing mix of distorted guitars, synth pads and sparse electronic beats, all of which intermingle around Aleksa Palladino's alluring, heartsick voice like a swarm of bees in your chest.
Still, it was somewhat of a mystery how the band might sound in the confines of the NPR Music offices. Would its members play how they normally might in small clubs built to handle cascading waterfalls of gorgeous noise — and run the risk of sounding too overblown for an office space? Or would they go all-acoustic and defang the music's aching power? Thankfully, the answer was neither.
Palladino and Devon Church, the married couple behind Exitmusic, began playing music together several years ago in their New York home, layering textures and shimmering voices, each awash in echoes and cinematic anguish. To work within the challenges of our space, the two — along with new band members Dru Prentiss and Nicholas Shelestak — returned to their living room to practice a set in a pared-down configuration which still captured its essence.
The resulting performance showcases Exitmusic's melodic nuance and weighty meditations on crumbling relationships, regret and dreams becoming nightmares. In "White Noise" and "The Modern Age," Palladino shows off her stunning vocal command, as she moves from airy and delicately quivering to a full-throated roar, almost within the same magnificent breath. Hearing Exitmusic on its record, Passage, these moments are exceptional. But up close, either live in concert or amid the intimate surroundings of the Tiny Desk, Palladino and Church's songs are as absorbing as any you'll hear this year. They may just fill those concert halls sooner than you think.
- "White Noise"
- "The Modern Age"
- "The Cold"
Producer: Robin Hilton; Editor: Michael Katzif; Videographers: Michael Katzif and Nick Michael; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; photo by Emily Bogle/NPR