The whole band jumped in for an in-depth Selection series.
Whitney Houston, “How Will I Know?”
This song is my jam. It’s not enough to say it lifts the spirits because it actually seems to inject power into my body. I don't know how it does that, but I do know it’s not just through my thin nostalgia for a roller rink in Texas—where, granted, it played in heavy circulation during my trips there as a kid. And it's not just the camp factor, though that’s also involved: the back up singers crooning “don't trust your feelings,” the black clad modern dancers in the puke-colored video, the bass gliss leading into the chorus, the sax solo schmaltzing over the transition to the final chorus. The overwhelming garishness of Whitney's voice, riding that glittery synth line, is for me, like a violently seductive childhood lived in rewind and fast-forward all at once. I can't get enough. –Clara Latham
The Ex + Tom Cora, “Scrabbling at the Lock”
The first time I heard this record was kinda like the first time I heard “Venus in Furs.” As an early teenager still small enough to be renting a full-size violin strung as a viola from a crappy rental house in Pittsburgh, I remember hearing Cale’s open fifth drones, ornamented with subtly violent glisses, and thinking… what is that sound? When the tape case (!) helpfully informed me it was a viola, something happened… something like realizing that my instrument offered a world of possibilities that I had never imagined until then.
On “Scrabbling at the Lock” (1991), a much wilder collaboration than its more polished follow-up, “And the Weathermen Shrug Their Shoulders” (1993), Tom Cora does a similar number on the cello’s reputation for mellow tone and soaring lyricism. Soloing almost constantly throughout the album’s fifty-plus minutes, Cora develops a chameleonic relationship not only with the entire string family, but with The Ex’s formidable instrumental forces, as well. At times, he’ll blend effortlessly with G.W. Sok’s canine vocal ballistics, at others screaming interminably at the top of his register with a harsh violinistic thinness, only to return to cavernous bass-y pizzicati and luminous, idiomatic double-stops.