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O. C. LIVE

Ex-Ex Marks the Spot Herself

July 18, 1996|JAMES McCAFFREY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Walking away from a popular band may not seem like a savvy career move, but that's exactly what 32-year-old Jill Warren has done. As Somebody's Ex's ex-singer-guitarist, she has written new songs and released a CD, and she is gigging steadily to retain her fan base.

Somebody's Ex, an all-female rock outfit based in Long Beach, "started out as a hobby--a bar band playing covers, really--and when it grew beyond that, I realized I needed to put more effort into my music," says Warren, taking time between sets at Midnite Expresso in Huntington Beach to talk about her current project.

The "Jill Warren" CD is a nine-song assortment that ranges from the emotion-drenched "Wax" to the somber, vaguely gothic "Nothing External Matters Here" and the hyperkinetic, Alanis Morissette-y "Six Feet Under."

Fusing a do-it-yourself guitar sensibility with her classical voice training, she explores the possibilities of studio technology, layering vocals and turning simple guitar melodies into dramatic statements.

In person, even away from studio click tracks and sequences, she hammers (seemingly impossible) six-string chords over treated vocals with little margin for error. Her musicianship may evoke memories of male rock dinosaurs, but in her hands, the groove is under control.

She occasionally is accompanied live by Roger Friend, a studio percussionist who appears on some of her earlier demos. She also drums on the body of her acoustic, a trick she learned back when drummers were harder to come by. (Warren has been playing since she was 7.)

At a recent performance, she played originals, experimented liberally with arrangements of cover selections and playfully solicited a few requests. A particularly memorable version of Concrete Blonde's "Roses Grow" was a big hit. Amid the impromptu shrieks of the cappuccino machines, people in the audience hushed others who dared speak.

* Who: Jill Warren.

* When: Thursdays in July at 9 p.m.

* Where: Midnite Expresso, 201-D Main St., Huntington Beach.

* Whereabouts: From Pacific Coast Highway (1), go north on Main for one block.

* Wherewithal: Admission is free, but seating is limited.

* Where to call: (714) 969-7336. The "Jill Warren" CD is available at all shows, from P.O. Box 17925, Long Beach, CA 90807-7925, or by calling (310) 423-3464.

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