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A highly unlikely concept of indie folk-blues, opera and torch-like trip-hop, one’ll probably never hear their likes again if one’s a little older in the gills – yes, this is even a new brand of freak-folk, weirder than JOANNA NEWSOM and FAUN FABLES and at times on a par with BJORK, PORTISHEAD and, astonishingly, BILLIE HOLIDAY. Formed by sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady, their unusual upbringing was probably the main factor for this ethereal combination.
At the tender age of 3 and 5, Bianca and Sierra’s parents divorced. While they visited their farmer father living on American-Indian reservations in the summer, the rest of the time was spent with their troubadour artist mother (of American-Indian and Syrian ancestry) who lived in Hawaii, New Mexico, Arizona, among others and gave them nicknames CoCo and Rosie respectively.
At 18 and pursuing her dream of becoming an opera star, Sierra moved to Paris, France (via New York City) and only regained contact with Bianca, when she too opted to leave Brooklyn to join her sister in a tiny apartment in the Montmartre district of the Gallic capital.
By 2003 the reunited sisters emerged from their bathroom (where the sound was ideal to rehearse) with the recorded gist of their rest-room exploits, laying the tracks down almost immediately.
LA MAISON DE MON REVE (2004) {*7} was quickly snapped up by Touch & Go Records, while the lure of the Big Apple beckoned again, this time as live support to the likes of DEVENDRA BANHART, The Gena Rowlands Band and BATTLES. Noticeable for their punk-y Parisian (pre-GaGa) fashion aplomb, the album with its soundscape of chirping birds, crickets and plinky-plonk pianos, was certainly in the category of unhinged. Like finding an old warped Billie Holiday 78, the cool sweet and sour combination of `By Your Side’, `Terrible Angels’ and `Good Friday’ unearthed a treasure of nu-folk sounds.
Augmented by BANHART, ANTONY & THE JOHNSONS (on `Beautiful Boyz’) and a potpourri of exotic noise collages NOAH’S ARK (2005) {*6} continued their organic assault, but one can help think a kooky Shirley Temple rather than a faraway Billie Holiday for unadulterated material like `K-Hole’, `South 2nd’ and `Honey Or Tar’. THE ADVENTURES OF GHOSTHORSE AND STILLBORN (2007) {*8} was again mischievous beyond their usual childlike lullabies and fractured faerie foibles (check out the reggae-meets-opera-styled `Japan’), while their native-Indian ancestry came a lot more into the fore by way of trip-hop ditty `Rainbowarriors’ and `Promise’; the BJORK-like `Houses’ was penned by BANHART; the siblings later covered The BEACH BOYS’ `Surfer Girl’.
A switch to Sub Pop Records resulted in album number four GREY OCEANS (2010) {*7}, a hark back to the mid-90s sounds of PORTISHEAD (a la opera), rather than anything indebted to freak-folk. There were worldly tidbits of the genre spread throughout, but take away their kooky NEWSOM-meets-FAUN FABLES eclectic equation from `Trinity’s Crying’, `Smokey Taboo’, the Shirley Temple-meets-trip-hop mini-opera `Hopscotch’ (one of four penned with musician, Gael Rakotondrasse) and `The Moon Asked The Crow’, and there was nothing to align the girls to anything remotely folk.
Much the same could be said for the siblings’ long-awaited, dream-pop follow-up, TALES OF A GRASSWIDOW (2013) {*8}. Produced by Icelandic producer, Valgeir Sigurdsson, who just about turned the girls into a younger version of BJORK – just more kooky. Helped out once again by the mournful ANTONY on the precious `Tears For Animals’ and closing track, `Poison’, this album stretched the Casady’s wistful weirdness to the max. Co-author on a triumvirate of heavenly compositions (from `After The Afterlife’ to `End Of Time’ and `Harmless Monster’), Gael was a definite benefit to the set – not a case, then, of too many kookies spoiling the broth. Star tracks were undeniably the uplifting `Roots Of My Hair’ and the ethereally catchy `Villain’, two refreshing numbers that should convince pundits of their hypnotic quality.
The clowning, chameleonic Casady siblings were off-set and without a bona fide contract on their follow-up venture, HEARTACHE CITY (2015) {*7}. Undeterred, the sisters were doing it for themselves, creating kooky dreamscapes to make Alice In Wonderland critters blush on the likes of `Lost Girls’ (the name of their record outlet), the lullaby-ish `Forget Me Not’ and the toy-factory-endorsing `Un Beso’ (finger-fucking firewood, masturbating snails and the Loch Ness Monster all part of their cosmic outre). Two NEWSOMs for the price of one, their flirty, butterfly effect materialized on the trip-hop-skip-and-jump of `Tim And Tina’, while one could imagine fairies tip-toeing over graveyards on `The Tower Of Pisa’ and a freak-folk JOSEPHINE FOSTER for `Big And Black’. On a footnote, the jazzy title track had elements of PORTISHEAD’s `Glory Box’ (“give me a reason” altered lyrically for “give me some news”), although that’s where the comparison stopped.
Not quite “Silly Sisters”, though freaky and nutty enough to make them stand out from the feminist rap pack, the idiosyncratic and chirpy CoCoRosie siblings re-emerged from the smoke with PUT THE SHINE ON (2020) {*7} – their own branch of banana blues. Marathon Artists Records took a gamble the previous year by dropping downloads, `Lamb And The Wolf’ and `Smash My Head’, whilst nearer to the set’s big promotional date, the sadcore `Aloha Friday’ and conventional `Restless’ divided the critics in a Marmite-effect capacity. On closer inspection, and if one imagined their maniacal Victorian vampire attire was de rigueur, high-pitched highlights arrived a la explicit cut `Hell’s Gate’ and spooky opener, `High Road’.
© MC Strong 2011-GFD2 // rev-up MCS May2013-Mar2020

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