Date: January 5, 2006
Author: Frank Spignese
Publication: The Daily Yomiuri
Headline: A tale of two sisters and four rejects By Frank Spignese
As Jack Frost blows cold across the Kanto Plain, warm the cockles of your heart with some old school pop from some fresh young faces. Two up-and-coming indie-pop acts, the All-American Rejects and Tegan and Sara, will be sharing a double bill in Japan next week.
The Rejects have been lumped together with emo bands such as Funeral For A Friend and My Chemical Romance, but they're more melodic than most of the groups that dominate the genre.
The Oklahomans' sophomore album, Move Along, isn't as impressive as their debut, but it still manages to pack a few punches. There are hooks galore and bassist-singer Tyson Ritter is more in control of his post-pubescent falsetto. Their songs tackle a wide range of topics, including broken hearts, hearts breaking and hearts that will break in the near future.
The leadoff single, "Dirty Little Secret," rocks out like irony free Cheap Trick, while the title track features an arena anthem chorus that acknowledges their '80s adult-orientated rock influences. As DIY as they may dress, the band owes far more to Foreigner than Fugazi.
Like most upstart adolescent emo acts, their introduction to punk wasn't via the Clash and the Ramones, but more heart-on-the-sleeve grunge groups such as Pavement and Weezer. They can kick out the jams even when spewing schmaltzy lines like: "This wait for destiny won't do/Be with me please I beseech you."
Another thing they have in common with most emo bands is their dislike of the label "emo." In an interview with Channel One, Ritter lashed out at the categorization.
"Emo is just the trendiest thing to say right now. It's the new 'Southern Rock'" he said. "We're bringing back stadium rock. The sound on our record is really good, but I like our live shows better. It's much more intense."
Canadian siblings Tegan and Sara have also been victims of unfair labeling. They're often refereed to as a folk duo, but the only thing folkie about them is the fact they play acoustic guitars.
Hailing from Calgary, these twin sisters cut their teeth in various teen punk bands before consolidating their talents in 1998. They soon landed a slot on Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair tour of female artists. They were then signed to Neil Young's Vapor Records.
Their latest release, So Jealous, is their most fleshed-out yet. It features a few folkie components, though there are also heavy doses of new wave effects, icy synths and power-pop riffs. "I Know I Know I Know" is a smash hit just waiting to happen and "Speak Low" could be an outtake from an early Blondie album.
The sisters take turns with the lead vocals and then come together for some saccharine sweet harmonies. As intricate as their choral interplay can be and for all the electronic quirks that pop up, there's an underlying indie lo-fi element that gives the music a down-to-earth organic flavor. Fans of latter-day Sebadoh and Liz Phair will find a lot to like here.
In the spirit of collective kinship, they both share writing credits equally and it's sometimes difficult to discern which sister is singing which song. In an interview with Undercover, Tegan reflected on making music as a family affair.
"There is a certain amount of stress that you wouldn't have if you didn't have a sibling on the road," she said. "I know I can show up at the club and she's not going to be AWOL. There's security in knowing that she can be dependent and she loves me and cares about me."
Sisterly love. If that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart, then the cockles of your heart must be permanently frozen.
The All-American Rejects and Tegan and Sara will play Jan. 9, 6 p.m. at Club Quattro in Shinsaibashi, Osaka, (06) 6281-8181; Jan. 10, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Nagoya, (052) 264-8211; Jan. 11, 7 p.m. at Club Quattro in Shibuya, Tokyo, (03) 5466-0777; Tegan and Sara will also play Jan. 12, 7 p.m. at Astro Hall in Harajuku, Tokyo, (03) 5466-0777.