Sister City

Carbon Footprints

Written by: TL on 08/03/2012 11:25:39

"If you enjoy Sister City, you’re probably struggling to reconcile a few things. Maybe you like indie rock, but your beard is lackluster. Singer Adam Linder’s beard and mustache do not connect. Maybe you love punk music but struggle with how to integrate it into your real life. Singer Adam Linder once wore a Rancid shirt under his dress clothes to a Bar Mitzvah [...] If you are the sort of person who enjoys honest music with integrity and the occasional reference to old Against Me! albums, you will probably like Sister City"

The above words are stolen directly from the facebook page of Worcester indie-punk duo Sister City, and I have stolen them because I'm reviewing the band's 2011 LP "Carbon Footprint" and given my lack of previous familiarity with the band, I doubt I could've come up with a more coolly worded introduction myself. As you may have guessed, the band - comprised singer/songwriter/guitarist/bassist Adam Linder and drummer Daniel Abzug - plays a low-fi type of punk-rock from the American grassroots level with minimal production, yet fortunately things never sound unintentionally amateurish.

Linder's (probably intentionally) dodgy vocals remind me of old Bright Eyes, and when Abzug lends his voice to the choruses, things almost sound a little Brand New/Crime In Stereo/Seahaven-ish. Their instrumental side is a stripped down punk alá Against Me; I Can See Mountains and mostly perhaps Run, Forever; driven by crispy, low-fi guitar and fairly diverse tempos and drum beats.

The essential conflict of this record is that while the sound, rather un-produced and unambitious as it is, does not really have the strength of personality to elevate Sister City to a prime position among the bands they sound like, the quality of lyrics and arrangements delivered by Linder and Abzug might be good enough to get them almost there. The point is that while there aren't enough nuances to the sound, to easily pick Sister City's sound out of a line-up of similar punk rock bands, plenty of the dozen songs on "Carbon Footprint" have hooks and dynamics that are good enough to have you singing along fairly soon anyway. Particularly the central grouping of "Going To Pinneberg", "Ellis Island" and "Cartoon Movies" seem to catch my attention every time.

So I've been arguing back and forth in my head about whether "Carboon Footprints" is a good enough record to deserve an 8 or not. Eventually, I've come to the conclusion that it only barely gets there, because while I like the songs and the sound, I can't get around the thought that the sheer mood of the music itself, isn't unique enough to consistently draw me back to this particular album amidst a selection of other good punk-rock albums. That doesn't mean it's not super solid and promising work, nor that I'm not likely to keep an eye out for more Sister City albums, it just means that while this is enjoyable, I don't see it having super longevity after the inital endearment wears off.

Download: Ellis Island Blues, Cartoon Movies, Going To Pinneberg
For The Fans Of: Run, Forever; Seahaven; I Can See Mountains
Listen: facebook.com/sistercityband

Release Date 14.06.2011
Big And Small Records

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