March 4, 2015

LP: Sister Palace - Count Yr Blessings

Sister Palace vacillates between nightmares and daydreams on Count Yr Blessings.

In the early nineties, there was Pavement, there was The Cranberries, and there was Sunny Day Real Estate. If you take a little bit of each of these, you might find yourself with Portland band, Sister Palace’s new EP, which is a perfect distillation of music in 1993. Deeply unsentimental and bittersweet, Count Yr Blessings tackles emotions with deadpan sensibilities and a matter-of-fact attitude. The production, on the other hand, is so noisy, so ever-present, so fervent, that it becomes ethereal to the point of blissfulness.

On this EP, the quartet vacillates between heavy and light, nightmares and daydreams. Opener “Blanket” hits hard with mathy, post-hardcore beats juxtaposed against vocals that precipitate like snow fall. “Thought it would be worse / thinking of you / but everything is still / blurry in my mind,” vocalist Nicole “Chetty” Betancourt numbly asserts, wading her voice through the painful reality of those relentless guitars. “Corporeality” follows, a metaphysical musing on the contradiction of immediacy and good intention. Plaintive bass lines act as the brain dueled against the heart’s ornamental “bah da bah da bah da dums” harmonies. They are forever in conflict and forever together.

“Sister Vincent” plays like an uncanny dream where everything is familiar and yet, nothing is how it should be. The subconscious is its own performance (“paint yr face in front of yr mirror / play yr guitar in front of all”) as the enervated guitar rolls alongside the pattering drums. In the end, Count Yr Blessings concludes with a cover of The Cranberries’ “Dreams” entitled, “///.” Adeptly re-purposed for the unabashed emotional charm of Sister Palace, Chetty and Dan Byers’ layered voices give new meaning to a song so originally ethereal that providing it an honest home in the world seemed impossible. That’s what Count Yr Blessings does so well - it draws the listener’s attention to dreams and then excavates the realities of those fantasies.


Listen to Sister Palace on bandcamp.

Madeline Meyer, a Los Angeles transport to Philadelphia. She writes screenplays and plays guitar and sings in Littler. Her favorite things are olives, board games, and dad jokes.