Review: by David D. Robbins Jr.
Album: “Sailor” by Kissed Her Little Sister
When it comes to music blogging, there’s nothing better than listening to a virtually unknown artist like Kissed Her Little Sister (aka Jeffrey Morisano), and knowing you’ve heard something extraordinary. It’s not about possession or staking a claim, but rather by the time these artists hit Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, Spin, or SXSW (The xx, Little Dragon, Braids, Julia Holter) — bloggers feel like they’ve grown up with the bands already and helped to push them on their way. Somehow that feels right. Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. It’s only a matter of time before the industry Gorgons put their tin ears to the earth and hear the esoteric, circus-tent ramble ‘n’ roll sensory overload of Kissed Her Little Sister. Or at least that’s also what we tell ourselves, when we hope high quality artists catch fire with new listeners.
Of course, I’m still a guy who thinks everyone should be freaking to Jordaan Mason and the Horse Museum’s “Avalanche” like clubbers when they hear a remix of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” hit the turntable. A couple of years ago I wrote some pretty glowing things about Kissed Her Little Sister’s debut record, “High & Low”. Okay, I called him “an undomesticated genius”. Well, he is. I stand by it. That’s not hyperbole. “High & Low” is a multi-layered, artistically-mixed, grab-bag of sampling, playfully exquisite lyricism, slick high-falsetto vocal grooves, weird trip-outs, tongue-tied journeys deep into Morisano’s brain — all wrapped up in his love of music theory and musical manipulation. Think of an immensely experimental Beck.
He’s got a great ear for the incongruous, and an impish lyrical sense. On “High & Low” he informed listeners, “I am Ben Franklin / I am standing in the shower / I am covered in cold water / I prefer to drip dry.” That record featured a stunning song called “Miracle Mile”, with honest lyrics sung with a mischievous wink: “Who wants the car keys / Riding on a miracle mile / We like the palm trees, and the heretic style … / Let me clear my throat / I am a human being / And it’s in my genes / I’m a love machine … / I wanna lock you in my room / Smoke marijuana in sleepy afternoon. / I wanna lay my burden down / In the fertile ground / Of the sunshine town.” Morisano’s new sophomore release, “Sailor”, is very different from “High & Low”. Yes, the wild instrumental transitions are there, with surprising musical bends and turns. Yes, there’s playful but poignant songwriting: “I’m a rich man with a soul to sell”.
But this record is even more irregular. He mixes a jazzy piece of fanfare with a drum beat, then blows it up into an infectious psychedelic jam with stylish bravado. Who’d think you could mix a hoe-down chorus with saxophone, like on the beautifully inventive,”I Ain’t Got a Friend”. (The song begins with the found-sound of crickets chirping.) Or how about going all Bob Dylan on the marvelous “I Am A Human Being”, a song with a foundation of hard folk strumming and harmonica? Or how about the nine-minute closing-cut, “Catfish”, which is part pop-art, part David Byrne, part Factory Era? It might be “That Was Only Wasting Time” that showcases exactly what makes Kissed Her Little Sister so damn good. (And I think Morisano knows it too, because that’s the first song with a video.) The song simmers with a sampled sax intro and industrial clanks, then jumps into a heavy base loop and killer falsetto vocals. The track bubbles, veers, blends — then unpredictably — rises into a soulful souffle — and a tangle of stutter-stop rhyming and subconscious expression about getting out of the endless loop of things: “I read the news today / Oh boy / One thing to discover that impartial to the noise / There’s venom in the toys, I said / The poison is the lead / Your grave is a bed / And you dig / And you dig / Dig a ditch / Tickle an itch / Cover yourself in the pine pitch / I pine for times / That are long gone and mined / In the long gone mind, I find / Factual facts / And lying lies / But that’s nothing / A nice indigo bunting.” It’s a masterful delivery.
This album celebrates it’s own uneven nature. It’s Morisano unleashing his creativity. It’s as simple as that. You don’t ask about unifying theories. You don’t think of his record that way. It’s a bold jump into whatever he feels like doing. And it works. You can follow Kissed Her Little Sister at facebook and soundcloud. Note: All lyrics are unofficial.