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The Exploding Hearts: Live on KBOO, 2001

I would imagine that at this late date a great deal has already been written about the Exploding Hearts. There’s probably not too much new territory to cover – nor a reason to revisit the legacy that the band was able to amass over a pretty brief career. And really, the only reason that this has all come rushing back to me is as a result of tooling around Chicago on a bike while listening to Guitar Romantic and singing along – well, that and the fact that I just found a live set from the band recorded and broadcast on Portland radio, KBOO, 90.7.

Surprisingly well recorded, the northwest quartet doesn’t turn in rote renditions of their studio recorded works. And while there’s nothing too shocking here, the date does add a sort of book end to the group’s career that Shattered was supposed to take care of. Included herein are a few tracks that weren’t a part of that first long player – even if they cropped up on the singles collection. “Busy Signals,” the second track here, was initially the b-side to "Modern Kicks," released on Pelado Records in 2003, just predating the Exploding Heart’s full length. Also included here is a version of “Walking Out on Love,” replete with a New York Dolls’ reference to introduce the entire deal.

The one confusing aspect to all of this is the inclusion of a keyboard on a few tracks. Who in god’s name is playing it? There’s no mention of that over at Music Ruined My Life. The answer doesn’t matter too much, and the instrument does add a bit of a new twist to these familiar tracks. Whoever’s playing it, while not too adept at the instrument, does a befitting job.

But with all of these tracks ostensibly available elsewhere, this live set might not be of interest to anyone apart from some obsessives out there. But again, if you’re a fan of the Exploding Hearts there really is no such thing as overkill. And considering that the Dolls just got referenced, think about how many times both of their full lengths have been played over the years – and there’re only twenty some odd tracks to work with. So while this might be the beginning of the parade to wheel out new Exploding Hearts stuff, it should be welcomed. Seriously.

Out of all the northwest bands that cropped up in or around the ‘00s, the Spits might be one of the only groups left out there. Regardless of who’s still working, though, the Exploding Hearts were and remain one of the more engaging acts from that clutch of groups. Its ability to merge the various punk sub-genre’s might not be the most ingenious concoction, but it works pretty perfectly. And while getting the chance to hear all of this won’t undue the horrendous circumstances that surround the demise of this quartet, just toss this live KBOO set on next time you’re thinking that the copy of Guitar Romantic in your collection is gonna get worn out all too soon.