Sister Wolf is a three-piece band made up of Steph – vocals – bass, Matt– drums and Chris– guitar, which began by playing the blues at Sarah Lawrence College. Since then, they have toyed with genres ranging from punk to jazz, and grunge to pop, blending them all into a distinctive gritty rock n’ roll sound. Based in Brooklyn, the band has played such venues as Arlene’s Grocery, The Bitter End, Pianos, Radio Bushwick, and Palisades. Lyrically, Sister Wolf draws on comic books and literature as a channel for conversations about death, fear, joy, misogyny, art, and being human. Most prevalent is the nerdy group’s love of comics, which crops up in many songs off their debut album, “VILLAINS”.
On “Villians”, Sister Wolf combine roaring guitars and stop-start dynamics with melodic pop hooks, intertwining female vocals, and evocative, cryptic lyrics, to make them one of the most eclectic and interesting alternative rock bands I’ve heard this year so far.
After the blistering, hard-rocking opener “Mary, Mary, Mary” sets the tone, “Civilized” immediately embarks on careening all over the musical map in a way that legions of alternative-rock imitators wouldn’t even dream of. With Steph screaming her head off at full volume, and the angry, assaultive drums by Matt as well as the rock guitar sounds on Chris’ solos going on steroids, the album takes a turn into more diverse and overall compelling territory.
Songs constantly veer off in unpredictable directions, making “Villians” more of an acquired taste, which is usually the mark of a truly great album, and this one is really more than worth acquiring. It represents a band at the peak of their youth as musicians, with all their rawer edges adding a frenzied urgency of dense rhythms, proto-grunge sheets of guitar noise and fierce vocals that will knock your ears back into musical oblivion. Songs like “Killing Joke”, “Armadillo” and “Swamp Thing” combines the band’s contrasting raw alternative energy with their capacity for beautiful melodies perfectly.
“Villians” is an album full of chaos, fun, energy and otherworldly imagery, interspersed by slow tripping songs like “Arachnophobia” and brilliantly catchy riff-filled tunes like “Alice”. You can feel the power and emotion behind every track; none more so than on “Yearlings and Dead Things” and “Playgrounds”. The lyrics are not your standard fare either.
Best of all, Sister Wolf know how to play their instruments very well too. They know how to achieve a powerful and driven sound without just hammering out power chords. The beat is charged and they can somehow wrap the music around and let it carry you away, making you scream, dance and just lose yourself in the sound, and by the time it lets you go, you will be totally drained, both emotionally and physically. “Villians” does that unassumingly right from the very first track!