Live Music: Ex Hex; Josh Roberts and Friends; The Brothel Spouts; Ill Doots

Great live music to check out this week

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ROCK | Ex Hex
w/ Birds of Avalon
Sun. Jan. 4
8 p.m.
$10
Tin Roof

“Fun is underrated, and guilty pleasures are bullshit,” laughs Ex Hex bassist Betsy Wright. “It’s like, just come out with it,” she says. “I just bought a Rick Springfield T-shirt from the ’80s, and I love it! And I love Joan Jett. I love everything Joan Jett ever did, even if some people think it’s cheesy or whatever. Who cares? It’s what I like.” Wright and her Ex Hex bandmates, guitarist Mary Timony and drummer Laura Harris, are serious D.C. rock vets from way back. Harris drummed in slanted, Dischord-signed keyboard-punk duo The Aquarium; Wright played guitar for and led swirly, dreamy indie-rock band The Fire Tapes; and Timony most famously fronted seminal indie-rock band Helium and played in the all-girl post-punk supergroup, White Flag. But the trio came together after stepping away from an assortment of broken-up bands and failed relationships, bonding over some of their earliest musical loves — mid-dial FM rock like Jett and Springfield but also old-school power-pop and punk like Cheap Trick and The Voidoids. “We were just like, ‘Let’s make music that’s fun and that we want to put on the jukebox and dance around [to],’” Wright says. “And it just came out like that.” Rips, Ex Hex’s October full-length debut for Merge, delivers on the promise of its title. Ex Hex’s four-on-the-floor, denim-jacket-and-ripped-T-shirt rock is by turns sweet and slicing and at all times infectiously fun. “That’s really the vision for this band,” Wright says. “Mary was just saying to somebody the other day that this is the most fun band she’s ever been in. It’s just fun.” —Patrick Wall SUNDAY

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BOWIE COVERS | Josh Roberts and Friends
Wed. Dec. 31
9 p.m.
$15/adv., $20/door
Home Team BBQ (Sullivan’s Island)

Josh Roberts is usually fronting the Americana rock group Josh Roberts and the Hinges, but this New Year’s Eve he’ll be taking on the ST*RMAN songs that have heavily inspired him. “David Bowie has been a huge influence on me. His songwriting is sometimes simple and direct, sometimes complex and deep,” says Roberts. “It’s really something to aspire to.” Roberts will be joined by his wife Leslie, plus Dennis Ware from The Hinges and Jeff Kozelski and Alan Brisendine from The Outervention. Despite Bowie’s massive repertoire, Roberts plans to only bring the Thin White Duke’s hits to the New Year’s bash. “The setlist will range from the late ’60s to the mid ’80s — from ‘Life on Mars’ to ‘Let’s Dance,’ from ‘Rebel Rebel’ to ‘Ashes to Ashes,’” says Roberts. Josh Roberts and the Hinges have just finished recording in Nashville with Ryan Monroe of Band of Horses, and the record is tentatively set for a spring release. “We’re very excited about this record,” Roberts says. “Ryan has pushed and challenged us. We feel strongly that it represents a new phase for The Hinges.” —J. Chapa WEDNESDAY

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PUNK ROCK | The Brothel Sprouts
w/ Scott Dence
Sun. Jan. 4
10 p.m.
Free
The Mill

The Brothel Sprouts mix everything from psychedelia and country to ’70s punk and glitter rock to achieve a sound they like to call “post-nap sarcasm” or “cosmic-comfort rock.” Whatever it is, we like the Sprouts’ tendency to draw from The Kinks one moment and Modest Mouse the next, like on “Her Jester’s Majesty” off October’s Good Enough EP. And “Go Score from God,” a fun, energetic track, sounds like what might happen if The Beatles hooked up with Ween. “For us, we want our music to be accessible and catchy, but still substantive by not compromising originality for the sole sake of ‘catchiness,’” says guitarist, vocalist, and drummer Robert “The Manchild” Ragsdale. “We try to have a balance. We want to write lines and make music that is simple but suggestive of more complex ideas and themes.” Based in Fayetteville, Ark., the band — Ragsdale, Kris “Sweet Tits” Mastin (lead vocals, guitar, drums, piano), Willie Benson (guitar, piano), and Alex Ivey (vocals, bass) — have been together for four years, though they took a two-year hiatus that ended last winter. After making Good Enough, the guys began work on a full-length follow-up that’s slated for a spring release. So, what the hell are brothel sprouts anyway? “We used the name because it sounds like British slang in its word-play,” Ragsdale explains, “like some witty insult you’d hear on the streets of London in Elizabethan England.” —Kelly Rae Smith SUNDAY

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HIP-HOP | Ill Doots
w/ DJ Black Olive
Wed. Dec. 31
8 p.m.
Free
Tattooed Moose

Ill Doots create jazzy hip-hop with a meaningful message. With anywhere from six to 12 performers in action at all times — a drummer, bassist, two guitarists, a percussionist, two emcees, and sometimes horns, other emcees, and vocalists — the music created always comes from a genuine place. “We just try to make the music as honest as possible without being trapped by other people’s conventions,” says bassist Scott “Sly” Ziegler. “We all went to an arts college for music mostly, our emcees for theater — and we try to treat our music like high-art for the everyman.” Based in Philadelphia, most of the Doots reside in a place called Tasker House, which doubles as their studio and performance space. “None of us are from Philly, and none of us plan on staying forever,” Ziegler says. “But we definitely have love for the city that brought us all together.” The last song the band made at Tasker is “Black Matter,” which they released on Nov. 27 after hearing some troubling news from Ferguson, Mo. “This song was written pretty shortly after Michael Brown was murdered,” Ziegler says. “We were planning to release it on Black Friday, however, when we heard that Darren Wilson would not be indicted, we felt it was important to release the song as soon as possible.” With lyrics like “Don’t fear the worst of us, ’cause you don’t know the best of us,” the track was made to create art from nonsense but also raise awareness. “Police are just the tip of a much larger beast,” Ziegler says. “There will only be more police like those who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner unless we fight back. People know that but feel powerless.” —Kelly Rae Smith WEDNESDAY


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