Photo credit: Melissa Corrales
THE SHARP THINGS are a rock band from New York City founded by singer/songwriter/pianist Perry Serpa.
The group was formed just before the turn of the century and started releasing albums shortly thereafter, two in quick succession just post-millennium: their debut, Here Comes The Sharp Things (Setanta, 2003) a record which prompted the London Sunday Times to dub the band, "...essential additions to the chamber-pop canon," and Foxes & Hounds, (Bar/None 2005) which made the The Big Takeover effervesce, "Delightful! Charming! Splendid!" and which Under The Radar called, "Fourteen songs of string, piano, and horn brilliance."
In 2007, Bar/None released TST's third album, A Moveable Feast, which employed a 40-piece orchestra on six of its songs, featured Broadway luminary Michael Cerveris on its Nick Hornby-inspired kick-off song, "The Jumpers," the Hold Steady's Franz Nicolay on accordion interstitials and Stuart Bogie (Superhuman Happiness/Antibalas) on saxophone, among others. Spin proclaimed, "Hope is on the horizon thanks to pop visionaries the Sharp Things," and Magnet offered, "Don't let all the trumpets, oboes and cellos make you nervous. Underneath the big-league arrangements are a set of muscular tunes that would still sound good played by a standard rock combo."
Somewhere in between Feast and its subsequent release, Serpa found time to arrange strings and horns for a handful of other artists. His work can be heard, most notably, on TV On The Radio's breakthrough album, Dear Science.
By the end of 2008, Serpa had already penned in excess of 40 new tunes. The plan was to record everything and to somehow release it all, which gave birth to an album series — an endeavor not too often undertaken these days. It was dubbed The Dogs Of Bushwick in tribute to The Kennel, guitarist Jim Santo and bassist James Pertusi's now-shuttered East Williamsburg studio, where much of the album was recorded. The albums, set to be fired off in a rapid run, were produced, recorded and mixed by Billy Polo, more readily noted for his work within the dub/reggae world.
The first installment, Green Is Good, a loosely themed opus about class wars and economic inequality, was released to acclaim in February 2013. The Truth Is Like The Sun followed in November of the same year, prompting John B. Moore at Blurt to call it, "Simply jaw-on-the-floor beautiful!" A succession of content and shows followed, including the band's first live offering, The Sharp Things Live At Galapagos Art Space, (March 2014) a chronicle of TST's packed-out, full-ensemble performance, which saw 25 people on stage at once.
Adventurer's Inn, dropped in December 2014, saw nine more brand-new songs, produced again by Billy Polo and featuring an array of side players accompanying the mainstay core band. The album was lauded by Popmatters, who said, "This record displays a band at the peak of its career, one which appears to be happily unsatisfied, yet chronically inspired by melancholy," as well as No Depression: "This album is so daringly original and well nuanced, it defies both comparisons and expectations."
Adventurer's Inn was dedicated to founding member/drummer Steven Gonzalez, Serpa's childhood friend, who lost his life-long bout with Cystic Fibrosis on September 11 of the same year. A portion of the proceeds from Adventurer's Inn have been set aside to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
EverybodyEverybody, the fourth and final installment in the album series, is set to be released on February 19, 2016, this time under the auspices of much-loved Philadelphia-based outpost, Ropeadope Records. The recording is essentially a song cycle, offering an unbroken stream of music and sound, songs and interstitial bits, from top to bottom.
Gonzalez' drumming can be heard throughout, as most of the basic tracks were recorded prior to his passing.