A little history lesson… Back in the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, before social media was even a gleam in the eyes of Tom Anderson, Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Williams et al., one of the primary ways to stay updated on pop culture happenings was via email discussion lists. I belonged to numerous such lists, most of them revolving around music labels and scenes (e.g., Projekt Records, Cold Meat Industries, Velvet Blue Music, Tooth & Nail Records).
These lists were a primary way to learn about new bands, many of them already obscure and made only more so by the Web’s infancy; this was long before anyone could create a Facebook page or Bandcamp account. Over the years, I’d simply assumed that many of these bands were now one with the ether, their music lost forever except for CD-Rs and cassettes now languishing in the attics and basements of friends and families.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that Twin Sister’s only album was getting reissued this summer.
Twin Sister was something of a curio in “Chrindie” circles, often popping up in discussions about bands everyone wanted to see in concert though I’d wager that most, like myself, had never actually heard them. A Star Wars-themed funk band out of Portland, Twin Sister (their original name, Boba Phett, was dropped for fear of angering Lucasfilm’s lawyers) became famous for their storied concerts, during which the members dressed up as Star Wars characters, such showmanship only adding to the intrigue and mystique.
The band began as a side-project of Sometime Sunday, who released a couple of grunge albums on Tooth & Nail in the mid ‘90s. After rehearsals, Sometime Sunday’s members would switch up instruments and play goofy funk riffs over which vocalist Todd Fadel sang lines of dialog from the Original Trilogy, including Han’s wooing of Leia (“Scoundrel”) and Luke’s protesting his lineage (“Ben”). That roughness and off-the-cuff-ness permeates Twin Sister, especially considering the entire album was recorded in a single 16-hour session.
As such, your mileage may vary. In its best moments — e.g., “Ben,” “We Got Company,” “He’s No Good To Me Dead” (with its Starflyer 59-inspired outro) — Twin Sister achieves a nervy, pop culture-fuelled energy that makes one feel like they missed out for having not lived in Oregon circa 1995 and seeing the band live, all decked out in their rented Darth Vader and Chewbacca costumes. (The album’s press release even admits that Twin Sister sounded way better live.)
But perhaps more importantly, Twin Sister is a nice reminder of the diversity and sheer amount of craziness that permeated the “Chrindie” scene two decades ago, a scene that was overlooked by so many in both secular and Church crowds. While any spotlight shone on that scene focused primarily on Tooth & Nail artists (and understandably so), it’s good to see other artists from those circles finally get some of the attention, too. So, from just a historical perspective, kudos to Old Bear Records for resurrecting this strange little piece of Christian music history (which will hopefully be the first of several more such reissues).