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May 14th, 2014 12:01 am WW Staff | Cover Story

Best New Band 2014

10 local artists Portland’s music insiders say you must hear.

IMAGE: Todd Walberg



FORMED: 2010

SOUNDS LIKE: Heavy lullabies for the distortion-inclined. 

For a band that calls its music “dreamy,” the Ghost Ease certainly likes to turn up the volume.

“I’m a dreamy kind of person,” says singer-guitarist Jem Marie, who writes most of the group’s songs. “I’m also very intense, so there has to be those intense, punchy moments.”

The all-female trio released its self-titled debut LP last year: eight tracks of hazed-out garage rock, heavy on the distortion, which envelops trance-inducing guitar riffs and Nsayi Matingou’s crashing, frenzied drums. Marie’s high, delicate soprano mixes with the heaviness, slowly ascending right along with the surprisingly laid-back melodies—an effect that lends itself to a bleary, warm feeling, like waking up from a long nap.

Formed in 2010, the Ghost Ease first began as a solo project for Marie, who still performs solo under the moniker Murmur Ring. Matingou joined in 2012 after seeing Marie perform around town, and ditched the guitar—which she played in her previous experimental rock group, Kusikia—to learn drums.

“I think that’s why it was fun to jump into this, because it was such a new experience,” Matingou says. “You get so used to the ideas of what the rules are. And with drums, I don’t know the rules yet, so I do whatever I want.”

Following the release of its album—recorded in Matingou’s cousin’s house as a two-piece—the Ghost Ease added Fabi Reyna, also a guitarist, to the lineup to play bass. Fresh off a West Coast tour earlier this year, the trio is working on new songs for its second full-length, tentatively scheduled for release this summer. Marie says the new songs mark a shift in her songwriting, with the angst present in the first album beginning to fade.

“At that time, I wanted so many things and couldn’t get it,” Marie says of making the band’s debut. “Now with my life, I’m like, ‘I want it, I think about it and I get it.’ I’ve just discovered how to do that over maturing in all these different ways.”

Although the eeriness of the music will remain, the band says its songs have grown up, too, in part because of the newly stable lineup. “They’re going to be fuller and even more dynamic,” Matingou says, “because there’s three heads instead of two.” KAITIE TODD.

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