The Easy Tease

The Easy Tease


An indie band with heavy folk influences notable for its theatric flair and unorthodox instrumentation. Sweet as pie without all those extra calories.

Band Press

Club Passim ushers in a new generation of folk – The Boston Globe

Folk music can be an earnest affair, a recipe for parody a la "A Mighty Wind." New York-based quartet the Easy Tease, so named for a penchant for sometimes removing clothing during performances, brings a theatrical effervescence to the genre. There's plenty of dark, deep lyrical stuff ("Forces pull and forces tear, in this world how does one fare," go the words to "The Gravity.") on the band's sardonically titled "Bold Displays of Cowardice." The instrumental lineup of Maggie Carson (banjo/vocals), Adam Janos (piano/vocals), Monroe Ellenbogen (trombone/vocals), and Willis Crichton (drums/vocals) makes for a bold sound, as plucked banjo is spiked with strident piano and deep, melancholic trombone. But the self-dubbed "burlesque indie-rock cabaret act" manages to find life's bright spots. Naked or not.

CD Reviews - Dec 2006 – Chronogram

My house reeks of sewage and my landlord lives in Texas. Listening to The Easy Tease's new full-length has lifted the stink from my nose to the sweet sounds of somewhere else. With a combination of salty air and wet wood, my nostrils breathe relief. The first track, aptly titled "Shipwrecked or Bad Luck and Rain" is Gilligan with only a God Speed You! Black Emperor record for company.

We are guided onwards into this gentle storm. A maelstrom of sandy grit lies under the deceivingly tender lap of waves. The banjo tickles and we like it. The trombone is a sophisticated French circus, acrobatic and demanding. The Sherlockian piano is introspective and searching. The horseshoe beat finds its way out of the crowded pub with drunken deliberation. My dear Watson! Let us wander in for a pint. All the children sing. Fearless, gender-bending voices dance with anticipation and excitement like my nephew when there is a frosting beater to be licked. Methodically earnest and thoughtful, they whisper and then surge with melodic angst back to shore.

This is an indie-rock record with a brave heart and the rhythmic variety is instantly likable. One imagines the band's live shows mixing the noxious levity of The Pogues with the singular angularity of Neutral Milk Hotel. The group's members studied at Bard College and now sow their seeds throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley.

Snap – Music Snob [blog]

Bold Displays of Cowardice by Easy Tease and Set the Woods on Fire by Art In Manila

These two alternative albums snap with creativity and exhuberance. For example, listen to "The Headless Horseman Rides Again" or "Set The Woods On Fire" and you'll understand the way these two bands focus their fantastic imagery around a point. The stories aren't allegories, but there's truth in these songs nonetheless.

The Easy Tease create carnivalesque jazz and folk with many instruments mixed for optimum creative output. Listen to "Blizzard a-comin'", and you can hear the soft snow falling from the piano keys while in the background the horns warn of the torrents that will fall. On "Father's Sonata" the horns play a more central role, guiding the mood of the song and twisting around each other and the rest of the instruments. "The Mad Scientists Break Into the Laboratory to Steal Solanine" is the most appropriately titled long song I've ever heard (take that Fall Out Boy!). If the hysterical hooting that takes place behind the vaudeville sounds isn't connected to a mad scientist, then I'll have to rethink my whole worldview. The whole album is rough patchwork, cobbled together with some of the oddest sounds in the musical arsenal, but forming a nice quilt.

2006 Music Blog Concert Review – Culligan2-Music Blog

I drove a steady 79 miles per hour down the Taconic State Parkway as my navigator spoke into his cell phone. "Yeah,it starts at 8 but we're definately going to miss the first half hour or so". Suddenly: green car, blue lights, dumb hats... State Police. One speeding ticket later, our ETA was 8:45. So much for catching "the Easy Tease" on time.

Amazingly, the stage was empty when we got there. The concert had not only been delayed as per regulation Bard procedure; it was pushed back 3 hours. Apparently, a week earlier, "The Easy Tease" had been Spring Fling's most popular Bardstock band earning itself "closing act" status for the current concert: a Dar-4 benefit. I was excited.

The opening acts were unimpressive; poor lighting and sound, and the music at times was so loud I couldn't bear it. I waited outside where I ran into Maggie Carson. She was about to go on and really excited about it. "I'm so glad you're here; you're really going to like this".

Moments later in the MPR, she took the stage with Adam Janos and the rest of "The Easy Tease". The lights were immediately dimmed setting the appropriate mood (Maggie is a lighting engineer afterall). The band consisted of a keyboard, a banjo, a trombone, and a drum set. By the first song, everyone was on their feet jumping up and down. I bobbed my head to the music, and tried to listen to the lyrics. "You're small, you're slow, you won't... I'm tall, I will, I'll fail, but you won't try..." Bitter reality mixed with youthful idealism and sheer enthusiasm -- all backed by a sound combining rock, folk, pop, and ska.

Maggie worked the crowd between songs, narrating as Adam and Willy the drummer performed a "Scandanavian mating dance". Suddenly, guest rapper Raizin jumped up from the crowd and joined in. Musicians manned their instruments and the next song began.

Raizin sang a hilarious spoof, parodying a cliche for his chorus -- "It's not that I don't listen, it's just that I DON'T HEAR!" Monroe's trombone was unstoppable.

During Willy's song called "Vagabond's Lament", the band showed off it's vocal harmonization featuring a big Moxy Fruvous chord singing "and the wedding's off but we can still make long term plans". Another of their songs, "Final thoughts" included a "Decemberists" wail of woe. Their high energy spread into the crowd who all leapt up and down as Maggie and Adam screamed "I'm an actor, I'm an actor, I'm an actor, I'm an actor!"

After a while, I couldn't just bob my head anymore. I had to dance; and I noticed all of my friends doing the same. A cover of some early 90s song even had us all singing. I've hated the song since 7th grade!

As they played their closing number, the lights dimmed and one by one the band members left the stage. I almost didn't notice because I had gotten so wrapped up in the music. The banjo stopped, the keyboard stopped, the horn stopped... soon, all that was left was a lone drummer who left the audience with one final beat. Everyone went crazy.

I bought their CD before the show ended and it was a good thing: they sold out. My friends and I agreed that "The Easy Tease" was probably the best Bard band since Mother Ming. Good sound, good synergy, great stage presence. I woke up the next morning on a table in a barrack with what will surely become their signature song "Two shy gnomes" stuck in my head. "You're small, you're slow, you won't... I'm tall, I will, I'll fail but you won't try...". I looked out the window and grass had never looked so green.

Interview for CafeMot – CafeMot

Last Sunday in Central Park, I bumped into Adam Janos and Maggie Carson of the indie-folk band, The Easy Tease. This original duo met while studying at Bard College a few years ago, but have since expanded to include trombonist Monroe Ellenbogen and drummer Willis Crichton. This eclectic group jams to the banjo, piano, trombone and drums to create a singular sound. (To listen, check out their MySpace page: The Easy Tease.) Currently based in NYC, they travel throughout the Northeast, playing at various coffee houses, festivals and other interesting venues. Adam (piano/vocals) and Maggie (banjo/vocals) were kind enough to share a few words with me...

full interview available at: