Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Album Review - Sister City - Carbon Footprint

This review is part of the "Over Flow" Review Series. For various reasons these past reviews were not published anywhere else. I am tagging them as Overflow Reviews and may add some extra information after if needed but I will keep the ratings and reviews just as I originally wrote them. Enjoy:
 Sister City 
Carbon Footprint
** and 1/2 out of *****

Sister City are a duo (Adam Linder and Daniel Abzug on drums) from Rockville, Maryland, but that classification, 'duo' is completely misleading if you have never heard their first release, Carbon Footprint.  The first thing that belies that term is the production, the album is flushed out and produced (overproduced at times) so that it sounds as if there are 8 people playing and 6 people singing on a majority of the tunes.  Secondly, this is all about songwriter/lead singer/guitarist/bassist/producer/everything else (as per the liner notes) Adam Linder; when you title one of your own songs, on your first album no less, "Reinventing Adm Linder" you are squarely making yourself the focus.  There are tons of first person references and conflicting thoughts about history, religion and love...hell there are just a ton of lyrics. 

Waves of words wash over the listener and at times it feels like Mr. Linder is singing sentences because he simply can't get out of the way of his own thoughts.  There is rarely an instrumental break longer then 10 seconds without the lyrics dominating again, in an English Lit Major restlessness way.  Carbon Footprint may actual contain lyrical links connecting the whole album but sifting through these stanzas would take years.  Even though it's running time is just over 40 minutes it can wipe a listener out and feel much longer, not necessarily painful, just exhaustive.   

As the album progresses it seems to get tighter and more focused, the majority of Carbon Footprint musically contains a direct nod to the power/pop/punk of NoFX while the wordy rants can bring to mind Titus Andronicus as well.  When the focus is tempo changes and speed like on "Eff That" things come together nicely another highlight is the theatrical closer "How Much" which Linder seems to relish.  "IMPERATIVE" uses an acoustic march to build up to its finale, "Cartoon Movies" possesses a gypsy/Klezmer vibe and even quotes Moses while the already mentioned "Reinventing Adm Linder" has a smoother country feel that works.  The genres can seem all over the place, but it adds to the searching sense of the album; Linder may not have found his comfort zone yet, but the journey is all enveloping.       

In an age where lo-fi and minimalism seems to be the route most young artists are taking Sister City hitchhikes on the road (currently) less traveled and tries to blow out your speakers with layers of sounds and words.  The production deserves props as does the overloading of both sonics and verbiage ("Big and Small Words" literally crackles the speakers) and if you can withstand the initial onslaught you may find yourself going back in for more.    

That pretty much covers it, just wanted to point you in the bands direction here and give you a chance to check out the tunes for yourself via their bandcamp or right below.  


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