Sometimes Iʻll listen to a band Iʻm unfamiliar with, and my musical palate will have to adapt to the new voices and sounds. Maybe Iʻll even skip a song or two during that first sitting, so I can begin picking out favorites and let my ears adjust from there. Not with Ellis Ashbrook.
From the beginning, I am hooked. The appropriately named “Accelerator” kicks off the album with a bang. The band — consisting of John Barber, vocals and guitar; Jonathan Granoff, bass and sampler; Natalie Lowe, vocals and keys; and Alex Major, drums and sampler — knows that first impressions are the most important. Although this is the bandʻs third album, they refuse to hold back; instead they offer up a dose of music so powerful, youʻd think they were playing to save their lives.
In “We Laughinʻ”, we hear Natalie Loweʻs voice shine through in a cheerful build-up to a rousing ruckus of chaos that just works. Itʻs reminiscent of years past when eclectic music reigned and genres didnʻt strive to be so clearly defined.
As the album continues, itʻs easy to see why so many find it difficult to put a label on the bandʻs stylistic efforts. Itʻs certainly not easy to clearly define music which does not allow for any preconceived notions. Ellis Ashbrook is a band that wants you to listen, and theyʻre going to draw you in with their best efforts and keep you addicted until the last word is sung.
I find Meridia to be a powerhouse that doesnʻt seem to quit. Itʻs difficult to pinpoint a particular part of the album that fails to satisfy; however, I find the album winds down about midway through. It would be interesting to hear the album sign off with the same bang they began with. Aside from some of the quieter tracks offered on this record, Meridia is more than just a silly appetizer. Ellis Ashbrook offers you a platter and assures you that youʻll want to hungrily devour every last bit of it.
Though the members of Ellis Ashbrook are originally from Boston, they have recently set up roots in Brooklyn, which has proven to work well for them. The band first won the 2007 Emergenza Worldwide Talent Competition in Boston then went to New York City and placed third in the Emergenza Final during the same year. Currently, Ellis Ashbrook has several shows booked in the coming weeks in NYC and Hartford, Connecticut.
Their forthcoming album, Meridia, is set to be released on iTunes in late May.