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Sister City | Carbon Footprint

Album review by John Powell

Sister City | Carbon Footprint

Worcester, MA-based Sister City’s full-length Carbon Footprint is a hearty dose of fuzzy rock n’ roll. Singer Adam Linder has a voice that keeps everything in the garage. He’s more about rocking and allowing his growl to tell the emotion, and at times it definitely works. Lyrically, Carbon Footprint is wordy, and although at sometimes the songs are very insightful, and usually narrative, at other times the listener can be smothered by one man’s angst against puttering around his small town on this hit-and-miss album.

For instance, on the opener, “Hit Too Hard”, the first lines we ever hear are, “With a steady stance and a weighted walk/I set out at dawn in a drought of explanation.” Wow. Okay. That’s a lot to take in, let alone after the heavy guitars splash in and the drums begin their furious beat-mashing. With lines like “I met a man and I shook his weathered, hardened hand/I avoided blame as I hid behind my passed down last name,” it’s clear the lyrics follow Adam’s consciousness.

“Cartoon Movie” is a punk-inspired romp through grit. “Living, breathing human beings Are sucking all my energy/With coughing fits a eulogy/Will be in order” shows off a disgust for anyone doing anything anywhere, a pissed off attitude that travels throughout the album. Adam’s aware of his inclination to say too much. On “Reinventing Adm Linder” (not a typo), he sings, “And I don't want to think about/The countless thousand words that I spit out/Every hour /Don't let me make it sound like I believe/That every second's just some stupid fight through misery.” That line alone is refreshing, and the song is one of the album’s best. Its guitar parts scorch and the melody is vibrant. Perhaps because on it Adam self-reflects, he’s more able to spend time on the feeling, which the acoustic guitar helps with, as he says, “So I'm scared by middle age that I'll have nothing left to say,” but that doesn’t seem likely.

A couple of songs really bite the bullet. “Poland, 1845” could have used another vocal take. The palm-muted guitars make it punk and raunchy, but the rock attached to such high amounts of self-loathing are too deprecating for the easy listener.

But it’s mostly the wordiness without actually saying anything that gets heavy-handed. “20”, about turning such an age, is weighty. I mean, “The white noise in between the erosion of our dreams/Plotting destruction of reasonable options” boarders on poetry, but the kind of poetry that really brings a guy down unnecessarily.

The album also suffers from a lack of hooks or catchy melodies. While some of what’s said is excellent, and the instrumentation never falters, (good gracious, Daniel Abzug, your drumming is exquisite), but that’s why I have so much to say about Carbon Footprint; it’s so close to being next to Green Day or NOFX in their hit-making lovability.

There are great moments. “IMPERATIVE” is a stellar song. In fact, I return to it first when putting the album on. The guitar is start-stop rock, blended nicely with the bass. Yes, it’s self-loathing, but this time with a sense of humor, and instrumental movement, two things that make bands like Weezer continue to make a bad day sound fun. “The things I want are simple things/Like love and trust and sanity,” is funny and honest. “Thou shalt not covet what thy neighbor's got/ But my god is a jealous god/ What he wants is what his neighbor's got,” is absolutely wonderful!

“Big and Small Words” and “Ellis Island Blues” are also recommended for their lyrics being on task and the guitars thunderously exciting. Some days we need serious levels of rock and words of discouragement, and Sister City have moments of teaching good lessons on both how to live and how to rock.

Bottom line: A hit-and-miss album from punk’s wordiest poet.


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