Have you ever listened to a band for the first time and had difficulty describing their sound? This musically challenging task can be experienced by checking out Starting at the End, the new album by The Sharrows. This excellent, two-year old quintet describes themselves as “groove-rock” but some of the genres that come to mind are folk, rock, reggae, psychedelic, and groove/funk. Their eclectic instrumentation and original material makes for an edgy live show that will keep the party rockin’ into the wee hours.” It takes a certain degree of musical talent to have a sound that is hard to describe and the Sharrows do just that with their first official album, Starting at the End.
The Sharrows consist of lead singer/guitarist Phil Sharrow, drummer Jake Bicknase, electric guitarist Matt Smith, keyboardist Joe Hermanson, and Sylvia Janicki, whose cello adds a unique flavor. The ten-track record was recorded at the band’s farm studio and offers the live, natural sound they strive for. The talent shows through with many solos during the songs and unique arrangements that add to the Sharrow feel.
The album starts out with the seven minute track “Late” that goes through many different sections. The electric guitar pierces through the rest of the instruments and takes an edgy lead. The latter portion of the track includes a building progression with each instrument coming in after the other. “I Left the Light On” displays the band’s songwriting skills with chorus lines that the band sings in unison, “This town is covered in bad seeds, don’t throw the good ones out. Plant a seed and let it grow first, before you call it a bad season.” This track also makes you want to move around with it’s fun, lively jam session at the end and you can see what they mean with they say “a live, edgy sound that keeps the party rockin.”
“Cold Drop” has a fifties doo-wop band feel that brings out the cello, while “I’m a Stranger Now” is a bluegrass jam, and “Ballroom” can be described as rock, the drum solo and guitar solo driving the song forward. The acoustic driven “Mary Celeste” has an ambient, reverb-heavy sound, being written about a cursed ship that was discovered abandoned and rumored to be haunted. Pay attention to the keys solo during this one.
They just finished up a two-week, thirteen-date tour that included shows in Brooklyn, Louisville, and at Madison’s Memorial Union. Do yourself a favor and take a listen to Starting at the End; you will not be disappointed, and while you’re at it, check out a fun live show that The Sharrow’s play frequently throughout Madison and the surrounding areas. You can download/listen to the album on their bandcamp.com or Reverbnation pages and the next upcoming show is on July 27th in Madison for the Clean Lakes Festival or the following day in Milwaukee at the Up and Under Pub. Enjoy!