Ease The Medic are a four-piece band from Columbus, Ohio who have been around since 2006 and have travelled their home country once or twice, playing with some pretty big acts (are Lynyrd Skynrd, Biffy Clyro and 3 Doors Down big enough for you!?). Although those bands are no indication of Ease The Medic’s musical style, it does tell you that these guys are pretty much willing to take on the world with their layered post-pop-punk anthems.
Their self-titled second full-length Ease The Medic is an excellent campaign for such ambitions – it definitely sounds big. At first, Ease The Medic hits you like a wave that takes a while to dry off, but upon being pelted by this album’s anthemic post-punk wall of sound, it begins to permeate you like a flash-flood down the streets of an unsuspecting city.
Opening with some of the spaciest sounding guitar drones I’ve heard in a while, you get distracted by their beauty before being picked up and slammed back down to the ground in the giant soundstorm that is album-opener “Antarctic Stare”. When the deliberate line “Winter’s ice fills your lungs / don’t choke…” chimes in, Ease The Medic have already found their groove and just take off from there. The only time this song lets up is immediately before a thunderous break-down led by a quite bad-ass riff, that possesses you to rock out for the remainder.
While “Antarctic Stare” sets the precedent of what to expect from this layered band, “Meh” and “Eleven” are more throwbacks to pop-punk and emo that we all submerged ourselves in at some point in our lives. “Meh” starts out hopping with classic pop-punk vox and an especially bouncy drum and bass combo, switching things up mid-way in an almost seamless change of time-signatures (and volume) for a pretty little excursion before launching into the last chorus. The shifts from standard 4/4 to variations of 3/4 timing are rather abundant on this record after enough listens, a very slick trick that Ease The Medic execute with little to no awkwardness, making for interesting variations of what could have been much simpler sounding measures of music. “Eleven” is by-far the shortest (and simplest) track on the album (2:30) but a really memorable one. The catchy main riff is super indie (and 90′s) sounding, leading into a simplistic, but relatable song about being dumped with the help of text messaging. Then comes “For Mother Russia”, probably the most painful song of the set (to the heart, not the ears!). Employing less foot-stomping, and more of a “kicking-a-stone-with-your-head-down rhythm”, this song gets most of the bloodletting out of the way, ending with an aggressive, driving jam at the end. You don’t have to listen too closely either for a siren-mimicking guitar riff that indicates the medic may not be in for an easy night.
After such a painful song, “Gimme, Gimme, Gimme Shelter” is a nice pallet cleanser to start side B. It starts out with what I would call a “groove”, of which its full “grooviness” isn’t felt until the second time around. One of the several interesting bass lines on Ease The Medic is found on “Gimme Shelter” right before going into the chorus. Bass lines like that really show you how much it can add to the feel of a song in addition to just providing low end (See also, the noodling found on “Antarctic Stare” for another great example of this). By the time the chorus hits, this track is a powerful sing-along anthem that just begs for some space (“We all need shelter!”) “Indian Style” is both a technical and moody affair (evoking earliesh Moneen), using lots of stop-start beats and textured guitar parts to create an obscured path leading to an incredibly large and layered breakdown/jam that sounds like it could easily be the soundtrack to an “end of the world” scene in a movie. Using tons of alien-sounding guitars, strings and even horns to create a swelling howl of an ending, “Indian Style” is a very unique track that is hard to put out of your mind.
“Engine Break” is an eclectic song that is almost a summary of everything that makes Ease The Medic who they are musically. It starts out with an upbeat and aggresive verse with textured guitars that kind of reminded me of an old Gob song (I don’t always reference Canadian bands, I swear), followed by a badass riff, 3/4 time shift leading into a great sing-along chorus that ends with an incredibly executed Weezer*-esque delivery of a two-part harmony crooning “You’re in luck!”
Ease The Medic obviously know what they are doing (or definitely sound like it) on their sophomore self-titled LP. This record is both aggressive and atmospheric. It captures emotions and mood without treading lightly. It’s impulsive, but also really smart. After really taking it all in (and it’s a lot to take in) you can’t help but be excited about what these guys do next.
*Non-Canadian band reference. There you go.
Ease The Medic is out on We Want Action Records. Purchase it from them on 12″ LP or digitally.
Download “Antarctic Stare” for a taste.