Review – French Exit/Hillary Chillton “Split”

I drank a couple cans of wine while writing this so excuse any typos.  Before I write this review, I need to say thank you to French Exit.  When I first moved to Los Angeles from San Francisco, they were one of the first bands I ever got to see at the V.L.H.S.    I bought their split with Signals Midwest that night and was quickly hooked.  They have been one of the local bands I jam the most at home. Guts and Black Stuff was in my top ten records for that year.  I still am upset that I was away on a business trip for their final show.  I did get to see them play live about a dozen times, which will never be enough.  They will be sorely missed from the socal punk scene.  There were something special.

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For what I believe is their swan song, French Exit came out with a split release with Hillary Chillton.  No, not Chillary Clinton.  I really like splits.  I think every punk band at some point should do at least one split.  The nice thing about this split is that French Exit and Hillary Chillton are pretty different sounding bands.  French Exit with their big sing-along songs and Hillary Chillton with their lofi emo/punk.  The biggest similarity is that they share singing duties. I will start with French Exit’s side.

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The thing I always loved about French Exit most is their guitar tone.  It is really big and heavy.   It reminds me of Dan Yemin’s tone. I read in Razorcake a while back the they originally wanted sound more like Kid Dynamite, but ended up more so in the Dead to Me area.  I would be really interested in seeing some of the guys actually make some Kid Dynamite style music in the future.  There is a video of them playing The Ronald Miller Story at their final show.  Anyways back to the split.

Antlers Party – This is just a classic sounding French Exit song. This song has a bit of a somber feeling to it, which is fitting for their breakup.  I really dig the main riff throughout the song.  During the bridge when it comes back, damn that shit hits hard.

Valerie – With another somber song, French Exit leaves us with a grand finale.  I never wanted this song to end.  I never wanted this band to end.  The thing is is that these final 2 songs don’t sound like they we are quitting.  It just sounds like classic French Exit.  These songs could have been easily on the next LP.  I just want more.

Hillary Chillton comes out with a unique and lovely 2nd half of the record.  This frantic lofi emo/punk really stands out in the Socal scene.  Their half of the split could be the best stuff that I have heard them put out.  I am ready for a LP.

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Sad Dad/Rad Dad – Is a really personal and sad song sung by Tanner.  Jesus Christ it is really emotional.  This may be my favorite song of theirs  The frustration in Hillary Chillton builds from these slow intimate moments to the really energetic bursts.  The solo section I really feel the band is just getting lost in their own heads and jamming out all their feelings.  There really is nothing left to be said.  At the end though we return to a final plea by Tanner and holy fuck is it pretty emotionally draining.  What a great song

Prozac – This songs is really fun and frantic song about being on prozac. Nina let’s us into a personal world of prozac.  I love that she unapologetic about it.  She just tells it like it is.  I love the screaming of “Just take a deep breath, It’s just another panic attack.”  It feels more of the physical manifestation of an internal scream.  It feels like a really cathartic song.  I have seen this song played live and it is really good.  Musically the riff they keep returning too is really nice and I keep banging my head to it when it comes back.

I only have one complaint on their side of the record.  I wish that they switched Sad Dad/Rad Dad and Prozac.  I think that Sad Dad/Rad Dad would be a better finishing track.  It is so emotionally draining that I am done with the record and it has some finality to it, but that is really just me pulling teeth.  Both of these songs are great.

This record came out on On the Real Records. Both colors of the 7″ are still available from French Exit and Hillary Chillton.  They won’t be forever so get on that.

The digital version is here if you want to listen to it yourself.

RIP IN PIECES FRENCH EXIT

YOU WILL BE MISSED

8.5/10

-Mahaffie

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I (Michael Mahaffie) am a documentary film editor by day and obsessive record collector by night. I also program documentaries for the Slamdance Film Festival. I have 2 dogs and a cat. I live in Echo Park. I like eating new foods and riding my bike. I also just learned how to juggle.

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