Personnel: Emily Miller, Zara Bode (vocals); Jesse Milnes (acoustic guitar); Ross Bellenoit (electric guitar); Peter Bitenc (upright bass); Stefan Amidon (drums).
Audio Mixer: Devin Greenwood.
Recording information: Saltlands Studio, Brooklyn, NY; The Honey Jar, Brooklyn, NY.
Photographer: Zara Bode.
The Sweetback Sisters, a sextet of unrelated musicians only two of whom -- co-lead singers Zara Bode and Emily Miller -- are female, deliver their second album in Looking for a Fight, once again revealing themselves as a talented retro-country tribute band. Based in Brooklyn, the group embraces many styles of traditional country music, some of them in forms already revived once before in these songs. In addition to Western swing (the Sons of the Pioneers' "Cowboy Ham and Eggs") and countrypolitan (the Patsy Cline evergreen "Love Me, Honey, Do"), for example, they cover neo-Tex-Mex (Laurie Lewis' "Texas Bluebonnets"), neo-Bakersfield sound (Dwight Yoakam's "It Won't Hurt When I Fall Down from This Bar Stool"), and neo-rockabilly (the Traveling Wilburys' "Rattled"). They also write their own country songs, with a downhearted cry-in-your-beer honky tonk flavor as well as more amusing observations from the barroom, notably guitarist Jesse Milnes' "Too Many Experts" (which is one of the things one can encounter in a bar). Bode and Miller are equally effective frontwomen, with Bode taking some of the more assertive numbers, such as Milnes' title song, and Miller the sweeter ones, and they harmonize well together. The Sweetback Sisters achieve the difficult task of approaching their frankly old-fashioned music with an enthusiasm that is not devoid of humor, yet never descends into parody. ~ William Ruhlmann