album art for Plastic Island

Local Review: Ex.Five.Two – Plastic Island

Local Music Reviews

Plastic Island
Street: 03.29
Ex.Five.Two= Red Hot Chili Peppers + Mother Love Bone + Led Zeppelin  

In Salt Lake City’s growing music scene, Ex.Five.Two is a self-proclaimed psychedelic garage rock trio with their first album, Plastic Island. Since 2019, the local group has released a track and played in venues like The Monarch in Ogden, Utah, but this album really showcases who Ex.Five.Two are as musicians. In eight tracks, the band creates commentary on their view of the world as well as aspects of life that promote this “Plastic Island.” The soulful lyrics along with strong rhythms and beats come alive, the music that you can feel right inside your chest. 

Fuzzy reverb, noisy electric guitar and heavy drums combine to create the perfect blend of ‘70s and ‘90s sounds with grunge influences, reminiscent of bands like The Doors, Sound Garden and Pink Floyd. Ex.Five.Two’s trio includes composer, lyricist and bassist, Christopher Sorensen, guitarist and lyricist Richard Chapman and drummer Andrew (couldn’t find last name). With the eclectic tracks that transition from edgy, strong guitar pieces to more pop-rock influences similar to The Byrds, the music creates the illusion of a bigger rock band. 

On the first track, “Seasons,” you can almost feel the vibrations of the electric guitar as the raw heavy sounds echo alongside the contrast of light cymbals. Akin to Pink Floyd’s song, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond (Pts.1-5),” Ex.Five.Two’s lengthy instrumental is broken up with some echoed layered vocals that put you in a trance. The last few minutes of heavy guitar in the track itched the right spot in my brain, where the repetition of the notes with the delay in vocals and reverb of the music creates the perfect segue into the rest of the album.

The next couple songs, “III Suspicion” and “Set Me Free” continue the warm and upbeat tones of electric guitar that you can’t help but bop your head to. The album starts to present the range of style influences, as the modern grunge rock sound switches to soulful pop-rock with tracks “No Blues” and “Jimi’s Flower Shop.” The deep wavy bass accompanied by the melodic strums of the electric guitar were peaceful, transporting me out of Utah and into one of New York’s fanciest jazz bars. 

The soulful vocals on the album reminded me of Chris Cornell and his deep expressive sound, which complements the rock instrumentation well. This is present in the seventh track, “Work Together,” where the layered vocals from Chapman and Sorensen allows you to hear both the individual artists and their voices in unison. The lyrics present a personal interpretation of the ups and downs that are a part of the “plastic” world we live in. In the first track, “Seasons,” the lyrics, “Seasons change / Year by year / Change is hard / Change is fear,” reads like inner dialogue, a mantra to accept how life is ever moving and evolving. In the third track, “Set Me Free,” the traditional rock guitar with proto-grunge influence in rhythm and sound comes together, making me feel alive, and the lyrics, “Left alone and feeling so unsure / Confidence at zero / Feeling so obscure,” made me ponder my feelings connected to my life and experiences. 

The title of the album is referenced in the track, “California Wildfire,” where the lyrics are more literal and discuss a universal issue—climate change. This track strays away from the others, as it promotes a more social message about the environmental problems that are affecting the earth. The lyrics, “Well they’re changing all our laws / Tryin’ to take away all our straws / There’s a plastic island out at sea / The winter air is filled with smog / The government blames it on us,” showcases the personal emotion that the artists feel about this issue and the need for change. Plastic Island inspires me to feel my feelings and to motivate myself to take on this complicated world on day at a time. —India Bown

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