Ease Up ‘Return to Sender’ EP review

SoCal’s sunny ska-reggae-rock ensemble, Ease Up, is showing off their edgier side with a double-single EP out today off MNO Records. The release consists of two main tracks, “Return To Sender” and ” Turn Around”, both of which cater to the skanking end of the tempo scale. Not feelin’ the skank pit? The double-single also comes along with a special “Return To Sender” down-tempo mix – just for you easy-going, hopeless romantic types. Upbeat is the general norm to uphold this four-piece’s “play all day and party all night” ethos although a simple, sweet love song sneaks in now and then. One thing is for damn sure: these boys know how to make the ladies melt when they do take the time to dial it back. Ever since their 2009 origin, Ease Up has been starting the party wherever the beer is flowing and the vibes are high, recording several EPs along the way and one full-length self-titled album in 2014 featuring members of Dirty Heads, Fortunate Youth, Long Beach Dub Allstars, Seedless, Tomorrows Bad Seeds and Micah Brown (now of Iration). An impressive guest list for a debut album, yes, yet the Ease Up boys also record gold all on their own.

It seems that the Ease Up boys are coming to all sorts of conclusions these days.

Take “Return To Sender”, for instance. The title track’s ska beat mixed with a heavy guitar shred play off of lead singer Rico Estrada’s signature harmonized vocals to render a synthesis of pop and punk sound… which boosts the song’s message that something’s gotta give, a play off of Elvis Presley’s 1962 poppy breakup ballad of the same name. Estrada’s lyrics center around a relationship needing improvement; there’s “so much work to do”, but in the end, it’s going to be worth it. Work hard, play hard. When times are overwhelming, all that a person can do is “carry on”, move forward and focus on the future. If there is a future, mind you…

Speaking of being overwhelmed, the second track of the double-single release is “Turn Around”: a coming-of-age song that describes a lifestyle that, well, needs improvement. It seems that the Ease Up boys are coming to all sorts of conclusions these days; with the band’s 10th birthday right around the corner, it’s only appropriate they are preaching life lessons. “Turn Around” proffers an even darker timbre than the first track, with rock guitar riffs and fast-paced drums. Guitarist Nathan ‘Legendary’ Ledgerwood, bassist Justin ‘J-Bird’ Iannelli and drummer Darryl ‘D-Rail’ Brown really get after it in the bridge too, with an impressive guitar solo layered over walking basslines and punk drum breakdowns. Estrada bares it all lyrically in between the skank-worthy instrumentals, stating that “this life is killin’ me”, complete with “blurry vision” and “bad decisions”. Is this party band over the party? Estrada states that “there’s no turning around” at this point, “no going back”; this road has him fated to faded. Well, for the sake of the fans, we hope you don’t go anywhere, Ease Up, with the bangers you keep producing.

The “Return To Sender” double-single EP is now available for purchase and streaming on all major digital outlets. To celebrate its release, the boys are performing a few shows in the coming weeks in San Diego – one hometown area for Ease Up members. For more information on Ease Up, visit www.easeupmusic.net.

Purchase or stream Return To Sender double-single:

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Disclaimer: All views presented in this album review are those of the reviewer and not necessarily those of Top Shelf Music.

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