Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ShiSho: The Sisters EP Review

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this record review of the local band, ShiSho.  Dominic has written about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, and the UltraSpinx/Bad Trouble split 7". If you're interested in guest blogging or having your local band written about, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

This Band Could Be Your Life: ShiSho
by Dominic Caruso

ShiSho (Midge, left, and Vivian, right) at the Grog Shop

ShiSho is a folk-punk duo consisting of real life teenage sisters, Vivian and Midge Ramone, who have been writing songs and performing all over Northeast Ohio for nine years(!). They’ve opened for acts like Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen and They Might Be Giants, and recently played New York City’s Bowery Electric. ShiSho stickers and posters even turned up in prominent locations in the series finale episode of the popular British TV show, The IT Crowd. ShiSho plays quirky, irreverent, and cleverly humorous songs that are often meandering, playful narratives populated by odd characters, outsiders, Morrissey, and the occasional killer clown doll.

Cover art for the Sisters EP
In September 2013, they released five new songs on The Sisters EP. The new music captures the sisters sounding more polished and accomplished than ever before--both vocally and melodically--achieving a sound reminiscent of the deadpan delivery of Patty Donahue of the Waitresses, and the slightly off-kilter guitar-accordion pop of They Might Be Giants. ShiSho’s live performances  usually consist of Vivian’s guitar and Midge’s accordion. However, the EP fleshes their sound out, adding a catchy power-pop beat to the songs, along with an economical use of synths, making the songs even more irresistibly hummable.

Midge and Vivian at The Bomb Shelter, photography © Melissa Olsen, icatchfoxes.com, 2013
The five songs feature the sisters’ surreal storytelling: “It’s Coming to Get You (The Evil Clown Song)” focuses on the aforementioned killer clown doll and the inevitability of it getting you--despite your suspicion that the doll is alive, evil, and after you, and despite all the delicate social maneuvering you’ve done to avoid upsetting your grandmother, who presented the clown to you as a Christmas gift. “Chicken Poofie” is a journey to the sisters punky side, with the infectious shout-along chorus, “No friends! No Parents! Only his dustbunnies!” The best track is “Ohio Man,” an inventive bit of songwriting which catalogs the exploits of the character of Ohio Man.  The song seems to have been created by stringing together leads from the police blotter: Ohio Man recovers 300-year-old stolen bible / Ohio Man hits brother over the head with cremation urn / Ohio Man changes his name to Optimus Prime. The effect is a blackly comic composite picture of a decidedly weird, and often violent Ohio Man. “The Dead Milkmen Song” includes support from the Dead Milkmen themselves, and fashions a wild pastiche with elements from numerous Milkmen songs. “Shrouded in Shadows” closes the collection with a message from one outcast teen to another about suffering the slings and arrows of other teens for failing to fit in. The details of the song elevate it beyond any typical teen moping: “I think your Sonic the Hedgehog drawing are baller / I hope you include me in your next fan fiction.” Being an outsider can be painful, but with “Shrouded in Shadows” ShiSho want you to know their not only on your side, they’re sticking up for you too.

Midge and Vivian at The Bomb Shelter, photography © Melissa Olsen, icatchfoxes.com, 2013
With that Holiday time of the year approaching, The Sisters EP would make an excellent stocking stuffer for the music lovers on your list. Make it a double shot of ShiSho by including their holiday CD, Christmas for Your Earhole, (which will be available on the group's bandcamp page soon) and you’ve got a winter soundtrack filled with irreverent, danceable--and most importantly--fun, pop.

Follow ShiSho on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/ShiSho/233415402488
Get digital downloads of ShiSho's music: http://shisho.bandcamp.com/
ShiSho news and points of interest: http://magneticbunny.com/

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