Tues Jan 14
Their jukebox might indicate otherwise, but Jennifer and Laura Rogers aren't rock elitists. The real-life siblings and namesakes behind New York City's talented pop-punk art-garage trio the Rogers Sisters (which includes bassist Miyuki Furtado) also own and operate Daddy's, a Brooklyn bar. The east Williamsburg establishment counts to its credit a tabletop Pac-Man/Galaga game, two pinball machines, and the little plastic mermaids Daddy's bartenders use to perch on the glass rims of fancier drinks (read: cosmos). The bar achieves cute without kitsch effortlessly, sort of like the Rogers Sisters themselves. And then there's the music.
"It's so comfortable here, and of course there's the great rock snob jukebox," says Miyuki Furtado of the bar.
"It's got a wide selection, but it doesn't include a lot of stuff," explains Jennifer Rogers, the older, fairer, guitar-playing sister, whose boyfriend, Greg Anderson, drummer for the Broke Revue, is the bar's third partner. When I ask, the siblings say no, the Rogers Sisters' debut, Purely Evil (Troubleman Unlimited), isn't on the jukebox--they say it'd be too weird to listen to while working. When a song comes on that no one can name, Laura reports back that it's by Girls at Our Best!, a short-lived, early-'80s British rock band. Jennifer says, "I think Thomas Dolby was in this band," (he was, briefly), and Laura quips, "There's a rock snob reference for you."
They don't lord it over you, but the Rogers Sisters know their business.
Purely Evil translates their combined knowledge into a stripped-back 28 minutes of danceable post-punk. Jennifer and Miyuki trade off on vocals, while Laura drums and harmonizes in the background. "Miyuki wrote a lot of the songs, and we learned them a week before we recorded them," Jennifer says. "We were so excited about his new songs, we were like, 'Let's put this on the record.'"
"As a result," Miyuki says, "we had to learn how to play the songs after we finished."
Although the bassist's voice can at times create an image of the B-52's Fred Schneider swimming in David Byrne's suit--especially on the eminently contagious first single, "I Dig a Hole"--the Rogers Sisters distinguish themselves with humor and good-natured self-referentialism. On "Now They Know (XOXO)," Miyuki ribs the New York City rock 'n' roll scene from a fan's point of view: "See their names across the magazine/See their faces in the NME/It's the latest in line/of the chosen and divine."
The Rogers siblings first made their mark playing together in Ruby Falls, an indie foursome that broke up in 1999. It was Jennifer who encouraged Laura to leave their childhood home in Michigan and move to New York (the sisters decided to open Daddy's partially because they'd had so much experience tending bar and waitressing while playing in their former band). Miyuki, a Hawaiian native who has lived on several continents, played in bands previously and, owing to his exotic childhood, has eclectic tastes in music¯¯ranging from punk and new wave to Afro-beat and Snoop Doggy Dogg. Purely Evil's cover art is similarly eclectic¯¯a collage of pictures, assembled by the band, that includes photos of George W. Bush, Martha Stewart, porn, a $20 bill, and an SUV.
"If you notice, the lyrics in the song ["Purely Evil"] go, 'I want to be purely evil,'" notes Laura.
"So we're not responsible for calling anyone 'evil,'" adds Jennifer, coyly. "There's nothing evil on there except for the SUV, maybe. We're very against SUVs."