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I recently got a copy of the new Christy & Emily album, Tic-Tac-Toe, released last year on the Klangbad label. As with their previous releases, the songs are full of delicately interwoven vocals (sung by guitarist Christy and keyboardist Emily) and a mix of sincere playfulness and gravitas. Unlike most of their previous releases, each song now includes bass guitar (Peter Kerlin) and drums (Kristin Mueller).

Two songs from the duo catalogue find new life with the quartet (both from 2009’s Superstition): The driving-along-a-desert-road vibed “Gueen’s Head”; and, one of my favorites, the poignant “Lover’s Talk,” which showcases nicely Emily’s velvety alto. The addition of bass and drums gives a compelling urgency to the choruses. Also on the front half of the album is the urgent “Bells,” with its sinuous guitar lines, originally released as a 7″ single.

Brand new tracks include the piano-driven “Green Lady,” whose lyrics tell a tale of an underwater killing; the mysterious “Haruki,” with its graceful, angular lines and subtle latin beat, written to a cat of the same name (“you’re taking chances walking on that awning”); and “Rolling Ocean,” drenched in Wurlitzer tones and interspersed with pentatonic guitar solos, set to a poem by Walt Whitman.

The 12-track album closes with the charmingly country-tinged “Florida,” in which Christy takes lead vox, about a childhood road trip to Disney World, complete with harmonica solo.

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Originally posted on April 5, 2011

Out today on Klangbad records, Quick Words–a “recording made in the Brooklyn wintertime”–opens with Christy & Emily‘s “Bells.” The dark, driving beat fuels yearning lyrics and bright guitar riffs.  This recording officially ushers in a new era for C&E, in which the duo is joined by Kristen Mueller on drums and Pete Kerlin on bass.

The other track on the 7″ is Talk Normal‘s “Hurricane.”  A kettle drum and siren-like drone underpin declamatory, almost chant-like singing.  The track is mixed to sound like it was recorded inside a vast, empty warehouse–either that, or some otherworldly, secluded village.

Available as a digital download is the extra track “Endtime Evangelist” by Christy & Emily.  An Oakley Hall cover, C&E bring energy and urgency to the original–which has a slow, ambling country-esque feel to it–with a repeated Wurlitzer note and clean guitar tones.  For the final verse Emily shows off her vox chops in strong but gentle high notes.

Originally posted on December 14, 2010

Christy & Emily played their “one and only NYC duo show for a long, long while,” at Union Pool last weekend—the duo usually perform with bassist and drummer nowadays—before heading back into the recording studio.  It was a frigid Sunday night, but inside the Wurlitzer/electric guitar duo’s energy got the blood running again.  Some favorites, like “Firefly” and “Little World” were on the setlist, as well as some new material.  Check out the penultimate song on the video above for a clip of a hauntingly rich tune, with sensuous Wurlitzer bass-line and intimately intertwining vocal melodies.

Originally posted on October 2, 2010

Bruar Falls was full to capacity and then some Saturday night. Those who waited out the fifteen-minute line were rewarded with, among others, a Mirah music video release, Sara Marcus reading from her book Girls to the Front, and a set by indie-innovators Christy & Emily (not to mention the occasional, unintentional full body grind from the enthusiastic crowd).

Christy & Emily, who successfully employ a panoply of styles to create their own unique sound, opened with the brooding groove of “Firefly,” followed by the chilling “Little World,” seething with anxiety ready to break the controlled surface of the music.

Also on the set was the dreamy, forlorn “Lover’s Talk,” a song “about making out even when you know it’s not a good idea,” and the driving, upwards octave-leaps of “Beast,” which takes a sharp turn about halfway through, turning into hovering sound-shimmer.

Originally posted on March 28, 2010

Sitting with windows open on a cool spring afternoon, “Chicken Little” enters seamlessly into the scene, weaving in with the fresh air, a sudden burst of color appearing one minute in, and again at the end.

So begins Superstition, Christy & Emily‘s remarkably synesthetic second album from 2008.  Singing in close harmony with voices akin to Jenny Lewis, Christy & Emily calmly bring together an eclectic collection of styles to create tracks that often produce vivid images in the mind’s eye.

“Lover’s Talk” feautres all the pathos of a Dolly Parton broken-hearted ballad (think “Jolene”) paired with the melancholia of French Impressionist keyboard music.

The music sets the scene evoked by the lyrics in “Superstition,” (“Driving through forests, the woods are so dark”), with its steady beat and subdued intensity.
This rich, darkly hued tune is followed by guttural growls from the guitar in “105 & Rising,” creating a bed of sound like a bleak landscape, over which the vox sing an echoey farewell.

The album finishes with the catchy, country-tinged “Tigers,”—one of the two tracks that uses drums—ending with tightly woven vocal harmonies that push and pull at each other before finally landing on the same note.

Look for the release of Christy & Emily’s newest album, No Rest, in early April.

Originally posted on January 23, 2010

Underwater projections reflect the sounds of a warbling Wurlitzer and wide guitar reverb…

Indie duo Christy & Emily—joined by bassist and drummer The Liberal Arts—played Brooklyn’s Issue Project Room last Saturday, making music that was recognizable but new sounding, infectious but unpredictable.

“Gueen’s Head,” juxtaposed rock ballad style choruses with mysterious rippling murmurs from the Wurlitzer, while “Thunder and Lightning” had a stripped-down, punk rock feel to it.

Christy & Emily played alone for the Debussy-esque “Lover’s Talk,” which seemed to advise the heart broken from fathoms below.

Before the band launched into the night-sky-like “Superstition,” Emily gave the audience a mini disco ball to pass around during the song.  The last person holding the ball was asked to play “The Christy & Emily Game” of subjective questioning: “Pretend you have a house; where are you more afraid to go, the attic or the basement?”  “I’m not afraid!” was audience member Joe’s initial answer, before being reminded by Emily that only one of two answers was acceptable (he chose the basement).

Christy & Emily’s set ended with the country-tinged “Tigers,” featuring tightly woven vocal harmonies.

Look for Christy & Emily back in NYC upon their return from this month’s Austro-Swiss-German tour.