Make no mistake: Music is the single factor that sparks the majority of my friendships, even way back to my preteen days. Although those ties are sometimes as fleeting as the NME's "best new band" proclamations, they can go pretty deep too. Case in point: This week, my old friend Sharon breezed through town with her band the Ropes on their first-ever tour of the West Coast.
The Ropes, Rickshaw Stop, November 29, 2007: If you've ever heard me use the phrase "visual violation," you can thank my old friend Sharon for the coinage. We met through a mutual friend, and I miraculously bumped into them at the bustling Liverpool Street Station on the way to the V Festival in Chelmsford, England, in 1999. Despite our 10-year age gap, Sharon and I got on famously and have remained friends as she went to college, then grad school in New York City.
Our musical tastes were never that similar, but it didn't matter, as I could always count on her unique take on the world and some world-class character portraits whenever we hung out. I was a little surprised, however, when she told me she had formed a band. Though her love of music and her way with words were always evident, I had no idea she had a lovely singing voice! And thanks to the Web 2.0 world, other fans have found the Ropes, the band she formed with her friend Top.
On the other hand, our musical tastes have certainly changed in the last several years, but I can assure you that the Ropes' wry, misanthropic lyrics are pure Sharon, as evident in songs such as "Kill Her Off" (their first MySpace favorite, I believe) and "I Don't Like to Get Dirty." Though I know bands dread the comparison/influences angle, I could hear hints of Shirley Manson, one of Sharon's former favorites, as well as the more electronic acts she's always liked (Bis, for one).
But as I'm all about the singer/songwriter types, my favorite song was probably a spare, introspective number she and Top performed. I can't remember the name, but it shined a charming spotlight on the two of them as artists. And I really had to admire Sharon for putting her voice out there like that (especially considering how silly I felt over Thanksgiving weekend, hoping my vocals would be obscured by Rock Band's lead tracks).
I'm clearly biased, as Sharon is my old friend, but I'm hoping they can make it out here again. I'll be in the front row.
» The Ropes on MySpace