Bitch Slap of the Week: CD Review of A Band You’ve Never Heard Of, in miniature


This Chicago-based quartet of indie folk-popsters have yet to be featured at your local Starbucks chain or on iTunes Singer/Songwriters section, but that’s exactly where they should be heading.  This is perfect coffeehouse music, with its dual harmonizing melodies accompanied by an unobtrusive acoustic sound.  Think Indigo Girls or Girlyman without the strong political agenda hitting you over the head.  Not that they don’t have anything to say, they do, but like the name implies, this group’s gonna deliver it to you in a quirky, tongue-in-cheek style with a nod towards the taciturn.  And when you hear how this band formed, much of their inside-joke vibe comes to light and makes-ya-go ‘ah, now I get it.’

Erin Frisby (vocals/guitar/piano) and Stefanie Kohn (vocals/guitar/banjo/accordian/xyloshi) met at a costume party on a houseboat on the Gulf of Mexico. Frisby was dressed as e.e. cummings and Kohn as William Carlos Williams. In their words, ” our love for diminutive lettering and an economy of language naturally made us fast friends. In fact, our first conversation consisted of just four words: “Can I sit?” “Yes.”

They found each other again in Chicago and thus formed in miniature, but didn’t stay a duet for very long with the addition of  Philip Rabbitt (bass/guitar/banjo – how many banjos does one band need?) and Sarah Sterling (drums/guitar).  Right now, you’ll find the four of them playing around Chicago – certainly a vibrant music scene to cut one’s teeth on.  Their eponymous first release is a self-produced effort, but you can take a listen to them through their MySpace account and follow what they’re up to on Facebook.  Even though these four are just starting out, they have a well-honed sound which will appeal to both the college circuit kids and aging hipster adult alternative crowds alike.  If I had to offer anything in the spirit of constructive criticism, all I’d offer is for them to play up their harmonies even more and experiment a bit more with layering their sound.  They all play an array of instruments, but I can’t always say that I hear that variety in their arrangements.  A minimalist approach is fine – frankly one to be lauded in our over-produced musical climate – but then in miniature needs to keep their audiences surprised and offer even more of the unexpected.  Other than that, a very fine debut, earing three bitch slaps out of four. Well done.




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