Tuesday, February 7, 2012

He's My Brother, She's My Sister - Empty Bottle - 1/14/2012

If I had gotten inked twenty years ago like I had wanted, I’d be the proud owner of a Bill the Cat tattoo today. I’m not sure what that might be worth on eBay today, but it’s not like you can sell a tat on eBay anyway. But I digress.

My point is that you need to think about shit before you go and do it. This also applies to band names. There have been brother/sister acts before: The Carpenters, Cowboy Junkies, Donny & Marie, Hanson. Most of them just use the family name or come up with something weirdly Canadian. Which reminds me that I need to make it to The Calgary Stampede one of these years. Anybody up there have a couch they’re willing to share? Not share a couch as in we’re both going to sleep on the same couch. Share a couch as in you own a couch and when you go to your bed you’ll let me sleep by myself on your couch. Just thought I’d clarify.

But this brings me to the Kolars of Los Angeles, Robert and Rachel. You see Robert is Rachel’s brother and, in case you weren’t clear on the transitive property of siblings, Rachel is Robert’s sister. After apparently spending a little too much time in that SoCal sun, they decided to name their band He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister. Not only does it reek of gimmickry, but sounds like a local band that will spend most of their time in their parent’s basement and, at best, maybe play a party at the local rec center. And if that weren’t bad enough, they decided to add a tap dancer as a percussion instrument. Now I have to confess that Cracky here is a fan of the ol’ tap dance genre, from old school Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to the creative applications of Chicago Tap Theatre today. However, just like the angry dude with the chocolate bar who got really pissed at the other dude when he got peanut butter on his chocolate, and the similarly angry dude with the peanut butter who got pissed at the other dude for getting chocolate in his peanut butter, I didn’t realize how well they could work together.

Did I mention that I had tickets to the sold-out Walkmen show at Metro that night? Now I had seen The Walkmen open for Fleet Foxes a couple months earlier and it was a damn good set, but I decided I could sell my $35 ticket and check out this Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup of gimmickry known as HMBSMS for far less thanks to the Empty Bottle’s RSVP for free admission promotion. Nice call, Cracky. If you could pick stocks as well as shows, you’d be the next Warren Buffet.

HMBSMS has an indie folk vibe, which I think means that they write songs, dress like hippies and/or hipsters, and not a lot of other people in your office will have heard of them. So here’s your starting lineup… Brother Robert handles guitar and bass drum and vocals, trading off with Sister Rachel, who also doubles up on tambourine. My research is suspect since it depends on either a quick scan of Wikipedia or the Romanian prostitutes who responded to my ad on Craigslist for interns, but I believe it was Oliver on upright bass and Aaron on slide guitar. I’m not sure what happened to the cello player, but I like to pretend that he was left roadside in Des Moines, Iowa after a heated argument about the infield fly rule. But I digress. Finally, the lovely Lauren on tap shoes and percussion.

It sounds kind of whacked out, but it’s just crazy enough to work. Lauren lays down a tap rhythm that chugs along the tracks like an old-time steam engine, accenting the beats with the drums on each side of her, while the rest of the band adds some swinging textures over the harmonies of our sibling heroes. That alone is worth the price of admission, but the addition of the slide guitar gives it teeth that further differentiates it from all your other general indie folk hipsters running around out there these days.

I see they’re headed out to SXSW, so if you’ll be in Austin be sure to see them and tell ‘em Cracky sent you. They shouldn’t punch you out or anything since they seemed genuinely nice, and Lauren even sent me home with a signed poster. Crack Approved.


  1. You forgot to add the two Yanni shows at the Chicago Theater on May 2/3 to your concert calendar.

  2. Got it. Thanks for your feedback, Merv. Are you a Romanian prostitute?