Espers’ label releases debut from Brooklyn sisters “Festival”

FESTIVAL is the work of Brooklyn-based sisters, Alexis and Lindsay Powell and Come, Arrow, Come! is their debut release.  The album was recorded in Nashville with engineer and co-producer Jeremy Ferguson of Battle Tapes Recording and is being released on Greg and Jessica Weeks’ Language of Stone label in Spring 2008.

Recording sessions began in the Summer of 2006 for Come, Arrow, Come! with the Powells enlisting friends Jake and Jamin Orrall, the brothers in the rock band JEFF, to help round out their old recordings and inspire new elements to the fore. The result isn’t just an album illuminated by the obscure bonds of sisterhood — Alexis’ voice poised and operatic; Lindsay’s wild and brave; the blend remarkable — but by a general atmosphere of family and collaboration.  In the summer of 2007, Alexis and Lindsay found their long-lost brother, Mike Powell, who began playing live with the sisters adding viola, drums and backing vocals  (the three Powells rarely sit still during a set, trading instruments and microphones and are lively with the energy the collaborations produce).

Though Come, Arrow, Come! appeals to the mystical, the sisters always stay committed to musical clarity. Tribal drone, backwoods spiritual, basement psychedelia, hilltop roots romp . every element they touch upon filters through the genetics of sisterly song and descends on eager ears like a misty rain. Songs can be as simple as two voices and one drum or a thumb piano; and even when more elaborately arranged or produced, FESTIVAL never retreat from their talents as musicians–they’re the kind that can command attention in even the barest, most basic contexts. Brooding verses about loneliness and displacement sound oddly comforting (“Boxcar”); songs appealing to fickle lovers (“Valentine”) muster the zeal and celebration of a New Orleans brass band. And despite the size of FESTIVAL’s ongoing line-up (the two Powell sisters being the group’s core) their music speaks to the kind of hard confidence that can only be drawn in insularity, in dreams of retreating from the unkindness of civilization to the woods or inside invented worlds — places more rife with possibilities than where they are, but more uncertain than anywhere they’ve been.


Despite a shared penchant for the artistic (Alexis studying as a vocalist since childhood and making films in her spare time, Lindsay producing visual art and recording her own songs, the sisters collaborating on plays and films involving a variety of wigs), they’d never made music together until the Christmas holiday of 2005, when they began recording four-track demos at the home they’d grown up in. What emerged was a natural combination of their sensibilities: Alexis’ interest in folk and gospel music, Lindsay’s in psychedelia and pop, and story-telling. Stories about heartbreak, family, planetary alignment, and game hunting. Outside of FESTIVAL, the Powell sisters also contribute to Greg Weeks’ (Espers) latest solo outing and Begushkin’s King’s Curse.  In addition Alexis Powell is a current and founding member of the meerkat media arts collective based in New York City. Lindsay Powell has released two solo records under the aegis of Cake Bake Betty and is a member of the psychedelic rock quartet, Skyblazer.

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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