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The Chief Smiles 

click to enlarge The brother and sister duo provide a distinctive blend of heavy guitars, violin, and vocals.
  • The brother and sister duo provide a distinctive blend of heavy guitars, violin, and vocals.

The Chief Smiles won me over with the first chords. The rest was icing—beautiful, thick, and creamy. Great for Terrible Times opens with sonic guitar and violin, followed by a hard-to-capture drumbeat that provides an intricate dichotomy to haunting vocals. The guitar breathes deeply, the drums gasp and lurch, the vocals weep. This is alternative rock in the early ‘90s vein, adventurous and willing, before it became diluted by corporate plague. The music combines shades of indie, prog, metal, classic, sweater, and sugar rock into a unique vision of sound. The songs are good (a few great), alternating deftly between fuck-off and come-hither, but what makes the record, and maybe the band, is the distinctive blend of Alex Trimpe’s heavy guitars and Sarah Trimpe’s violin and voice. Yes, this is a brother-sister team, but it isn’t shtick. They both have able musical voices that reach for heights and harmony just shy of peril. Sibling rivalry or synergy, they have a nice feel for when to play together and when to back off, and the energy is best radiated on the heavy and quirky tracks. The band currently resides in the musical center of the world, Brooklyn, and the Trimpes originally hail from Kerhonkson—not necessarily known for its creative spawn. But this CD indicates that there may be something in the water there, and perhaps it should be bottled.

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