Gas Station Roses, Sis’s second full-length album, is the Berkeley-based band’s devotional document of six weeks spent in the dream zone of the studio. Lovingly made, with earthen percussive elements, chance technique, inside a glimmering forest full of synths and guitars, the album reunites Sis for their most assertive musical statement yet.
It all started with a visit to Lark in the Morning, a legendary store full of percussion instruments in Berkeley. The band left with a gopichand, a one-stringed lute from Bangladesh, a huge African drum, and pan flutes. Meanwhile, singer and multi-instrumentalist Jenny Gillespie Mason, also the founder of Native Cat Recordings (Meernaa, John Vanderslice, Luke Temple, Brijean) was writing at home on an OP-1 synth and tenor guitar, and readying her sketches to bring to co-collaborators Carly Bond (electric guitar, flutes, vocals) and Rob Shelton (synths, programming), both of the band Meernaa.
Originally envisioning a quieter acoustic album to complement the darkly swooning r ‘n b of their debut album Euphorbia (Native Cat Recordings 2018), once in the studio, the band started playing each other songs by other artists before getting to work on anything, such as “Shadows from Nowhere” by the obscure dream-pop 80s band Blue Gas, the feminist and funky album Raw Like Sushi by Neneh Cherry, and the anthemic weirdness of Toto. It seemed, rather than head towards quietude, the band was keen on recreating the dramatic, layered beauty, the dance-ready grooves and big moments of 80s-era recordings. Unabashedly drawing from the well of that musical era’s emotional yet funky potency, you can hear Blue Nile, Grace Jones, Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel in the elegantly shifting soundscapes of the album.
Gas Station Roses is about, in Mason’s words, “desiring life so badly still as a grown-up, getting the joy and beauty in big gulps, but also recognizing its limitations, corruptions, and sadness, more than I ever would as a child. And in the face of that, choosing to smile and stay awake to the beauty around us.”
directed by Yeshe ParksTomcat lyric video
directed by Marisa Gesualdi