Release Date: Jan 22, 2013
Record label: Park the Van
Genre(s): Alt-Country, Americana, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
Meg and Jack White weren’t actually siblings, but it’s doubtful that Robert and Rachel Kolar will disappoint us with such artifice. Swapping vocals with a big-tent revival swagger, these blood relatives imbue He’s My Brother She’s My Sister’s new album Nobody Dances in This Town with a down and dirty authenticity—regardless of the fact that they hail from Los Angeles. It’s a gritty trip from the barstool to the vaudeville stage…and just about everywhere in between.
The history of rock ‘n’ roll isn’t exactly littered with brother and sister combos, but there’s been a few worthy of note. First of all, there was the magic of Karen and Richard Carpenter during the bulk of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. Then there’s Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces. And there was Meg and Jack White of the White Stripes.
The debut from self-described Los Angeles-based "glam-folk," "cirque rock," "garage country," and "desert pop" quintet He's My Brother She's My Sister does a fairly solid job of living up to all of the hyperbole. Fronted by siblings Rachel and Rob Kolar, and rounded out by slide guitar, upright bass, and a drummer/tap dancer, HMBSHS can sometimes feel more like a theater troupe than a rock band, but unlike their closest contemporary, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes, the band emits a steady undercurrent of downed-wire danger that owes more to the gator- and snake-infested Louisiana bayou than it does the eucalyptus- and patchouli-scented streets of Laurel Canyon. Dark, bluesy exorcisms like "Tales That I Tell," "Let It Live Free," "Clackin' Heels," and "Choir of the Dead" suggest a steady diet of Slim Harpo, Shovels & Rope, Howlin' Wolf, and Jack White, practically begging for placement over the closing credits of an episode of True Blood, but it's not all swamp blues and voodoo torch songs.
Los Angeles garage-folk troupe He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister has described their uniquely hybridized style of music as “glam-a-billy,” “vaudeville blues” and “flamboyant folk,” and in each case, the tag seems to fit perfectly. The five-piece band has a bluesy essence at its core, and a bit of an Americana twang, but on debut album Nobody Dances In This Town, those basic elements get filtered through a flashy, theatrical filter, coming out the other end a big-tent revival for misfits, roughnecks, troublemakers and outcasts. At its most upbeat and salacious, it’s a glorious thing, as on “Tales That I Tell,” in which singer Rachel Kolar tells her hard luck tales with a sexy, soulful sneer, over a Link Wray-via-Marc Bolan rhythmic rumble.