Oh man. You guys are in for a treat. A treat your grandmother didn’t make. A treat that gets forced deep into your innocent little pillow case. A treat that reminds everyone to check for needles in their candy bars.
Three Sisters from Alice Donut. Don’t look it up. Not yet. You haven’t received your full briefing. And, trust me, this isn’t something you just want to jump into. Not without knowing the risks.
Alice Donut is a different kind of band. Since 1986 they’ve thrown down ten full-length albums and countless EP’s and singles. They are commonly classified a psychedelic punk, but I really can’t agree with that label over-all. However, they definitely have their moments.
Donut went strong until they broke up in 1996. They returned in 2003, sans guitarist Richard Marshall (he returned after this album). The foursome set immediately to work on Three Sisters. Down a member and with guitarist Michael Jung producing, they went to town making by far my favorite of the Donut albums.
Each song on this dirt-fest has it’s own personality. From quasi-pretty in an awkward mid-pubescent way to raw like an exposed femur on a gusty, dry day, Three Sisters showcases their gritty side while staying true.
Were I a race car driver that participated exclusively in highly competitive death races, this would be the album that played in my cockpit. Its first four songs are so aggressively relentless that I can’t help but flail primally in fits of both ecstasy and despair.
“Wired” is and, as far as I can hope, will always be, one of my favorite songs. It’s a straight up punk masterpiece that is scientifically proven to provide as much energy as a five-gallon-bucket of Mountain Dew. Or a small coffee flavored with light cream and meth. Either one is nowhere near as enjoyable as the song.
One of the reasons I most like “Wired,” as well as the entire album, is the bass tone. Sissi Schulmeister generates the most unholy, anti-pop bass sounds ever to grace human ears. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say she got braces during the recording of this album and decided to play bass with them. And I don’t know any better. She may have.
Amidst all of this chaos and depravity, comes oddly nice songs like “Running Arms In The Philippines” and “Up is Down.” Now, they certainly aren’t all pillows and rainbows, but with the harmonies and classic inescapable/unexplainable Alice Donut charm/feel, they give a little respite from the ferocity of other songs.
I like this album so much because even down a member, the four musicians seems to pull together to fill the void. Jung seems to do a great job of playing both rhythm and lead, especially in “She Tells Me Things”. Sissi does the same, filling any possible void with her enormous bass distortion with absolutely no compromise on actual bass playing. And, as with every Donut album, Stephen Moses’ drumming is perfectly adequate, never being more or less than exactly what is needed and filling (like a boss) every chance he gets.
Now, all of this is well and good if you can get past something. Tomas Antona, Donut’s lead singer, is a bit unconventional. His high-pitched voice is definitely something to overcome. It took me many years to finally succumb to its brilliance. It’s an acquired taste, for sure. Much like taking your coffee with light cream and meth.
Now that you’ve been properly warned, I recommend you enrich yourself with Three Sisters. Please, for the sake of all involved, keep an open mind. And if you don’t end up liking the album, but find you can move past Antona’s voice, check out any of their other releases. Each one is different.
I, on the other hand, will be jamming this album on nearly every road trip I take (which is a lot). On a scale from one to ten, this album is the most fun album I own. In fact I think I’ll listen to it right now…