Reviewed by Carson James
The Callen Sisters/The Callen Sisters
Because I am old, a college/alternative band fronted by two sisters reminded me of the Throwing Muses. Coincidentally, the opening cut, “Anomie,” with its spiky riffs and little-girl vocals, sounds eeriely close to the Muses in their prime, when Tanya Donelly was still in the group with her step sibling Kristin Hersh. Although not as harrowing as the Muses, the Callen Sisters unintentionally hit me with a 120 Minutes flashback. And while the rest of the CD has more of a folk-rock feel, the Callen Sisters are definitely not your typical coffeehouse duo; their songs have rougher edges on the side, displaying a postmodern influence that energizes and intensifies even their most quiet moments.
Both Jessa and Beth Callen sing, but don’t ask me to identify on which tracks. All I can say is that the vocals throughout the whole album are melodic and bittersweet, tinged with both sorrow and hope. “Wildfires” and “Whirlwind Came” are reminiscent of the Sundays’ summer-afternoon mood swings, gentle and winsome folk-pop heavy on atmosphere. Albums like this have a tendency to drag (even the Sundays were guilty of that); fortunately, the Callen Sisters never meander, ensuring that each cut has a purpose and enough friendly hooks to keep our ears occupied.