The Chapin Sisters at the Living Room, Night 1 of CMJ

From the second that the Chapin Sisters showed up at The Living Room, a small venue on the lower east side, I knew this was going to be an amazing performance. They were lugging more than their fair share of guitars, percussive hand-held instruments and pints of beer and they were dressed to the nines, which is often a good sign from folk musicians, who don’t always go for the gold when it comes to clothes. The sisters first gained some serious media attention when they covered Britney Spears’ song Toxic, to wild acclaim. Lily and Abigail Chapin are the two sisters in this group and everything about their music shines. Their harmonies are complex and intricate and their genetically related vocal cords sound phenomenal together, as though the resultant vibrations match on a celestial level, not just a corporeal one.
Their songs are at once majestic and humorous; the sisters ditched their band to sing an acapella song halfway through the set entitled Sweet Light and what had before been a hot, crowded room, was suddenly the open deck of a ship. With the floor rocking under our feet, the audience barely breathed until the song was over, perhaps afraid of capsizing such pure, sweet sounds. The song Boo Hoo, which really is about crying, and their single Digging a Hole were, by far, my favorite songs of the set and off of their album. They’re both catchy and peppy without being at all trite or cliched. It seems like every genre I’ve ever loved gets a mention here; the percussion on Digging a Hole is an homage to a Native American drum circle while the lyrics are a nod a brand of feminist country music that tugs at the heart strings.
The song I liked least was Palm Tree which was oddly forced and felt insincere among such a heartfelt group of songs. There’s a little bit of surfer rock in their music (possibly due to their recent move to my homeland of Los Angeles) vintage country, and spooky, splatter folk and it all comes together to create an aching, mellifluous sound. They have two albums, Lake Bottom LP and Two both available on iTunes. They’re currently on an extensive national tour and you can check out those dates at their website

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