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The Rogers Sisters - Purely Evil

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Artist: The Rogers Sisters

Album: Purely Evil

Label: Troubleman Unlimited

Review date: Feb. 10, 2003

Sisters Keepin' it Simple

Following an extremely limited run 7" single featuring one of the best Cure covers you’ve ever heard, Brooklyn’s Rogers Sisters became swept up in the flurry of post-punk bands namechecked in Spin and Rolling Stone. On "Now They Know (XOXO)", midway through the Rogers Sisters’ debut album Purely Evil, the group offers an acknowledgement of sorts. While the self-conscious party anthem seemingly finds the group staring down their noses at their Brooklyn neighbors, feted by the British music press and more than eager to sign on the dotted line, the song’s refrain – "Now they know it was me!" – clues us into the fact that the Sisters are hardly oblivious to the bearing their time and place has had on their own fortune.

That’s not to say the Rogers Sisters couldn’t have existed outside of the present conditions facing their microcosm of rock music. Purely Evil was released by Troubleman Unlimited, generally known for taking a chance on exciting artists regardless of present media focus (although the CD version of the album is at least the second release on the label over the past year with a sub-par mastering or manufacturing job, requiring the listener to boost their stereo’s level higher than normal to listen to the disc). And it’s clear that the band has probably worn down their copy of Fear of Music more so than Marquee Moon or Kick Out the Jams.

Still, Purely Evil is not simply a look at the art school side of the current punk era. While most of the songs on the album dabble heavily in Heads-styled rhythmic play and lyrically cynical abstraction, the heart of the Rogers Sisters is a jangley, danceable entity. Bassist Miyuki Furtado and guitarist Jennifer Rogers alternate crisp, shouted verses, while also exchanging call-and-response hooks with drummer Laura Rogers (ostensibly the two women are genuine siblings). The interplay between the instruments is thought out, but direct enough to make for some of the most sparsely energetic party songs in recent memory.

The album’s unifying factor, however, is a tight, keep-it-simple production style, to the point where you can almost see the microphone slung over the rafters above the drum kit. Jennifer Rogers’ guitar tone is sharp and crisp, but does not dominate the other instruments at any point during the songs.

While the Rogers Sisters’ current hype is somewhat indebted to the current focus on their city and musical forebearers, their combination of sensibility and potential make Purely Evil a worthwhile document, hopefully foreshadowing more output from this forward-thinking band.

By Bennett Yankey

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