22 Brides at T.T. the Bear’s – Review

22 Brides

at T.T. the Bear’s
by Fritz Katczinsky

At home, checking out 22 Brides‘ self-titled CD on Zero Hour: Am I high? I can’t read these lyrics. Either a bigger typeface or stronger glasses are required. Sad part is, I think the words probably say something. I read on as best I can. Carrie and Libby Johnson. Hmm, a band fronted by singing sisters. How marketable.

I give it a listen. There are some nice harmonies, but their voices are way too sweet for me. I want to make them drink whiskey while I roll Drums for them to smoke. Strictly speaking, though, they sing fine. Really well, in fact. (Will they sound this good live? We’ll see.)

Hours later I’ve returned from their show with some illegible notes. Yes, they can sing like that live. Better, even. If I had heard on their CD some hint of the edge that this band has on stage, I would have liked the disc better. There was an energy in the performance that wasn’t adequately captured in the studio. I was told by singer/pianist/bass player Libby Johnson that the release was actually recorded a couple of years before that with a different set of musicians. Joining the Johnson sisters on tour, and for an upcoming recording project scheduled to begin this month, are drummer Ned Stroh and guitarist/bass player John Skehan.

This line-up works well for 22 Brides. It sounds more like a band, more like musicians and instruments happening together, and the music loses that girl-pop sound that I heard on the CD. I think they’re meaner than their recording. Their live show rocked except for the unavoidable problems that arose from using a house soundman.

I couldn’t help but grin when I heard that “King for the Day” was about a serial killer in Carrie and Libby’s own Hell’s Kitchen. How was I to know? I couldn’t read the fucking liner notes.

Fine print aside, I’d recommend catching 22 Brides next time they’re around and waiting for the next recording, tentatively titled Surge, which Libby says is getting underway in Philadelphia at Studio Red later this month under the direction of producer Adam Lasus. It’s scheduled for release on Zero Hour in August of this year.