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Exile In The Outer Ring
City Slang
Catalogue Number
Release Date
August 25, 2017
  • Vinyl, 1×LP

    Out of stock
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    • 1 x Limited Edition Red Vinyl LP
    • Including "Notes From The Outer Ring" 18-page Fanzine
    • 2 x button badges

    Released: November 10, 2017

After the success of 2011’s ‘Past Life Martyred Saints’ and 2014’s prophetic ‘The Future’s Void’, EMA retreated to a basement in Portland, Oregon – a generic apartment complex in a non-trendy neighbourhood, with beige carpeting and cheap slat blinds. Now, she returns, with a portrait of The Outer Ring: A pitch-black world of dark night highways, American flags hung over basement windows, jails and revival meetings and casinos and rage. In a year dominated by white working-class alienation and anger, EMA – a Midwesterner who never lost her thousand-yard stare -- has delivered an album that renders Middle American poverty and resentment with frightening realism and deep empathy.

“I want to explain to outsiders that the people where I come from aren’t beyond hope and reason”, says EMA, “I want this record to bridge a divide.”

The album, co-produced with Jacob Portrait of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, is a return to EMA’s roots in the noise-folk outfit Gowns, whose 2007 album Red State prefigured many of Exile’s core themes, along with its mix of stripped-back folk (“Always Bleeds,” originally a Gowns song), spoken word (“Where the Darkness Began”) and noise epics (“Breathalyzer”).

The album is unique in its mingling of gender politics with American working-class anxiety. The voices we hear in these songs — druggy, surly societal outcasts; Byronic nihilists bringing down fire — speak to a kind of rebellion that’s typically reserved for men, and the archetype of the “dirtbag teenage boy” dominates the album. Yet EMA claims some of that same dirtbag alienation for women — “a woman who swallowed a scumbag teen boy whole,” as EMA puts it – and uses it to interrogate both her own vulnerability and how male violence shapes the world, as on the anthemic “Aryan Nation.”

The result is a deeply personal, confrontational, but ultimately redemptive album from a quintessentially American artist at the peak of her form.

Digital Track List

  1. 1 7 Years 4:07 Buy

    7 Years

  2. 2 Breathalyzer 6:20 Buy


  3. 3 I Wanna Destroy 3:07 Buy

    I Wanna Destroy

  4. 4 Blood and Chalk 3:16 Buy

    Blood and Chalk

  5. 5 Down and Out 3:36 Buy

    Down and Out

  6. 6 Fire Water Air LSD 3:48 Buy

    Fire Water Air LSD

  7. 7 Aryan Nation 2:52 Buy

    Aryan Nation

  8. 8 33 Nihilistic and Female 3:26 Buy

    33 Nihilistic and Female

  9. 9 Receive Love 3:19 Buy

    Receive Love

  10. 10 Always Bleeds 5:20 Buy

    Always Bleeds

  11. 11 Where The Darkness Began 1:53 Buy

    Where The Darkness Began


City Slang

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