On the Verge: He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister

He's My Brother She's My Sister Live In Studio

The band-naming process was rather simple for this LA-based band that took a rather fact-based approached. He’s My Brother, She’s My Sister is fronted by sibling duo Robert and Rachel Kolar. While sibling relationships in bands are not uncommon, having your landlord playing slide guitar next to you certainly is. That’s where Aaron Robinson comes in. Filling out the rest of the bill is Lauren Brown on percussion and Oliver Newell on upright bass.

Anyone who saw HMBSMS stroll into the WERS studios sporting striped skinny jeans, 50’s color blocking, floor length hippie skirts, and green hair may have wondered, “what kind of sound is going to come out of this bunch?” In the past the group has described their sound as circus blues, campfire folk, vaudeville-style rockabilly, and glam-a-billy with steampunk theatrics, singer Rachel Kolar concluded that their sound is one of a kind.

“I think we’re genre-less, that’s how I describe it. We have a variety of funky names but we’re just a mash-up of things,” Rachel Kolar said.

While listening to HMBSMS on tape is one thing, seeing this band come to life in front of your eyes is another. Both Rachel Kolar and Brown come from a theater background and that has clearly rubbed off on the rest of their bandmates. Their live shows are more theatrical performances than mere concerts.

Previously having seen the band showcase at this year’s annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas – being in the studio with HMBSMS confirmed that this is a band you want to be up close and personal with.

Starting off their live set at WERS was “Tales That I Tell” off of the band’s debut album, Nobody Dances In This Town. The band was inspired to title the album such after having numerous fans reach out to them after shows thanking them for coming and putting on such a lively show because, “God, nobody dances in this town. Nobody dances in this city. But when I come to your guys’ shows, people end up dancing.”

Each member shows their unique personalities and let loose during their performance, most notably Brown as she tap dances on top of a bass drum head. She incorporates her performance background with her newfound love for percussion as has invented was has become known as “octopus drumming.” Brown drums with all of her limbs, she’s a joy to watch as she drives the group pounding out the beat from her delicate frame.

Yet Newell is a close runner up. It’s easy to wonder whether he dyed his hair to match his bass or the other way around. Newell’s performance is electrifying, his bass moves fluidly with his nonstop dancing despite its size – one can’t help but smile by watching.

The band’s live set ended with “The Same Old Ground” – a track the band recently played on their debut television appearance. The track opens with Robert serenading his sister, “Hey little sister, don’t lose your smile, even though it seems like love has gone out of style,” the track opens up to a chorus where the entire band sings together ringing true to their campfire-folk label.

Nobody Dances In This Town is the bands first album but surely won’t be the last. HMBSMS swung through Boston in May to play a packed house at The Middle East Upstairs and will be returning once again this November to the Great Scott.

By Jeeyoon Kim
Photo by Libby Webster

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