Back in October, I was notified SISTERS (the band) were in Sisters, Ore. Despite similarities in name, Emily Westman and Andrew Vait’s electro-funk pop strut doesn’t exactly meld with Sisters’ Western storefront aesthetic. Yet watching film of the duo interview locals about community and legends, the lines quickly blurred. Partnered with footage of places I’ve seen thousands of times, I found the impromptu cast of characters and stories shared to whirl a spell of intrigue and humor.
If you spent 2017 under a rock, I can’t blame you. It certainly won’t be remembered as the year for a funk themed dance party (even with a game show host acting as president!); SISTERS argue the contrary. Their newest album, Wait Don’t Wait (Tender Loving Empire), displays an eclectic flight of Prince synth jams, futuristic dance floor standards, and slice of brotherhood so confident and warm that your inner child can’t help but shake out and groove.
“Scene Here” squeezes the funkiest drip from the grooviest well this side of the Mississippi. The sticky percussion, duo’s woo’s and chorale ahh’s, and Theremin sounding synth coasts a soft rock 80’s vibe into the rafters. Follow up “Heart Beats” tags Phil Collins and Bee Gees doppelgangers for a dance floor sing-along as it riffs with impeccable guitar and heavy sax flourishes. “Let Me Go” parties alongside a tangible space wobble and high falsetto singing. The chorus is especially tasty, as it weaves non-4/4 time into a jamming, gospel-fused hand clapper celebration.
The second side’s “My Little Head” particularly showcases a duo playing a myriad of instruments a cut above common indie-rock peasantry. The scuzzy sax and vocal screams over late night flute and drum kit maleficence is approachable but masterful. Ending song, “Love You Too” however, may be SISTERS grandest statement. Instead of coloring the song with all the fantastic extras previously decorating the album, Westman sings large and in front. Her voice is the main show. When Vait takes turn to solo, his voice leads a modern gospel spark. Then, organically, the saxophone calls and both Westman and Vait harmonize into the final curtain.
Easily one of the better records I passed over late in 2017 as my escapist self was sour to most joyful dance-encouraged movements. Just like learning about a community I’ve passed through thousands of times, SISTERS help reframe the celebration requirement; just because the nightly news is a spiraling mess doesn’t mean little victories can’t be lifted and celebrated.