This feature appeared in Amplifier Magazine, January 2007
You’ve seen them in NME, Rolling Stone, Interview, The New York Post, and a fully clothed Playboy feature. However in a media landscape peppered with deception and fake news, can a pop music fan actually believe anything they read nowadays? “Well, there is a bit of truth in every tale…” says Allison Pierce with a hint of evil irony. Her equally mischievous sister Catherine concurs.
The pretty, perky, precocious Pierces debut disc Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge is rife with stories of passion, murder, deceit, lesbianism, ménage a trios, and random acts of mayhem. And as far as we know as of this printing, neither has announced a candidacy for the Oval Office. Rendered in a folk rock fashion that harkens back to the early 1960s sounds of Joan Baez, The Kingston Trio, and Ian & Sylvia, the torrid twosome are not adverse to a bit of digital dalliances to abet the vintage bells, whistles, glockenspiels, mandolins and other organic instruments which decorate their songs.
The Pierces were born and raised in rural Alabama by Boehme parents. “They were hippies” notes Catherine, “but they were also Christians, so that still gave us something to rebel against.” Now residing within the chic environs of Manhattan’s East Village, the sultry sister act has emerged as a hot topic in the ever-burgeoning New York acoustic indie rock scene. “We were too drunk the first year we moved here to notice any cultural differences” laughs Allison. “But when we woke up in the gutter in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, yes, we were quite shocked!” Though Catherine is romantically linked to a local rock deity -The Strokes’ guitarist Albert Hammond Jr.- the Pierces have forged their own identity and fan base.
Backed by a tight ensemble of electric bass, guitar, and keys (whom the Pierces neglected to introduce by name), Allison and Catherine were gracious hosts on their home turf, encouraging the male and female fans alike to inch closer and closer to the stage to better bask in the glow of the Pierces’ presence. Unlike most of the artists who make indentical requests at the tiny Mercury Lounge, these attendees obeyed without hesitation, shuffling forward with enthusiasm not seen since Night of the Living Dead. After an obligatory drink and instrument tuning, “Boring” their mocking homage to the Big Apple jet set was rendered by both sisters in a monotone delivery that would have made the oft robotic Grace Jones green with envy.
Evoking a light-hearted lascivious comparison to Randy Newman’s classic “You Can Leave Your Hat On,” the naughty “Lights On,” which weaves images of cross-dressing and sex under bright lights, vacillated from torch song verses to outrageous disco beat choruses - very impressive. “That was Prince inspired” confesses Allison. In Vaudeville mode, Catherine’s campy performance of “Boy in a Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” may or may not have been in reference to Mr. Hammond as she emphasized the lyric “I swore I would never fall in love with a boy in a rock ‘n’ roll band…”
The waltz vamp “Turn On Billie,” a kinky yarn which professes a desire to “paint the town blue because red is so passé” afforded Allison and Catherine an opportunity to harmonize unison as their band punctuated every coo and whisper with staccato rhythms and grinning faces. The gal’s rustic roots shone through on the tearful ballad “Ruin” with Allison pining for a lover to come crawling back akin to Lucinda Williams at her most desperate.
Whether Thirteen Tales… will bring The Pierces fame and fortune remains to be seen. But they do reveal a contingency plan: “We are putting one million copies of this record in a time capsule for future generations to enjoy.”