I was not expecting The Sharp Ease to come up with such a retro-punk track to open up “Going Modern”, using a Ramones-like song structure to push through their desires. Tracks spin through before one can honestly get a grasp on The Sharp Ease, but with tracks like “I Demand”, a sort of disco-like guitar line permeates the track, while Paloma‘s vocals achieve a more energetic, Debbie Harry-esque style. Each track on “Going Modern” is infused with this same sunny disposition and clear recording, which allow us a look into what the earlier California bands (like The Dickies and The Germs) must have sounded like (since all the albums that are left have an extraordinarily messy and fuzzy sound). Each track on this disc could conceivably be on popular radio, but the ear that allowed this disc to be constructed places the music firmly in the middle of pop and solid musicianship, showing that the two don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
The keyboards on the disc’s title track are probably the most impressive addition to the band’s general sound that can be found on the disc, making the track feel a fullness that has yet to be topped. The keyboard buzz is recreated fairly in “Manipulation”, and this drone is essnetial for drawing a contrast between it and Paloma’s voice. Simultaneously taking nods from both grunge and punk during “Joan” (think “Here Comes Your Man” meets Brassy), The Sharp Ease continue their campaign of excitement with the instrumental “Killing The Rooster”, which seems to draw heavily from an ambient and indie-rock influence, but is unmistakably The Sharp Ease the entire time. Dana B comes to the plate in a large way during “Tie Me Over”; it is eir unmistakable and brooding bass that put an energy behind the track that highlights Paloma’s voice.
The Sharp Ease play a style of music that is never easily identifiable. In the land that is a true melting pot of influences, cultures, races, sexualities and lifestyles, it is really no doubt that this band could coalesce and create such impressive music. Paloma’s stint in The Grown-Ups has allowed the band to start on the right foot and create something in their four short years of existence that some bands are never able to find: brevity without losing anything in the translation. The Sharp Ease are thus visionaries of a new style, and should be treated as such (instead of being booted off of their residency at a local bar).
Top Tracks: Joan, Life Preservers
The Sharp Ease – Going Modern / 2005 Olfactory Records / 12 Tracks / firstname.lastname@example.org /http://www.thesmell.org/olfactory / Reviewed 18 March 2005