Gas Station Roses

by Sis

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about

Gas Station Roses, Sis’s second full-length album, is the Berkeley-based band’s devotional document of six weeks spent in the dream zone of the studio. Lovingly made, with earthen percussive elements, chance technique, inside a glimmering forest full of synths and guitars, the album reunites Sis for their most assertive musical statement yet.

It all started with a visit to Lark in the Morning, a legendary store full of percussion instruments in Berkeley. The band left with a gopichand, a one-stringed lute from Bangladesh, a huge African drum, and pan flutes. Meanwhile, singer and multi-instrumentalist Jenny Gillespie Mason, also the founder of Native Cat Recordings (Meernaa, John Vanderslice, Luke Temple, Brijean) was writing at home on an OP-1 synth and tenor guitar, and readying her sketches to bring to co-collaborators and husband and wife team Carly Bond (electric guitar, flutes, vocals) and Rob Shelton (synths, programming), both of the band Meernaa.

Originally envisioning a quieter acoustic album to complement the darkly swooning r ‘n b of their debut album Euphorbia (Native Cat Recordings 2018), once in the studio, the band started playing each other songs by other artists before getting to work on anything, such as “Shadows from Nowhere” by the obscure dream-pop 80s band Blue Gas, the feminist and funky album Raw Like Sushi by Neneh Cherry, and the anthemic weirdness of Toto. It seemed, rather than head towards quietude, the band was keen on recreating the dramatic, layered beauty, the dance-ready grooves and big moments of 80s-era recordings. Unabashedly drawing from the well of that musical era’s emotional yet funky potency, you can hear Blue Nile, Grace Jones, Talking Heads and Peter Gabriel in the elegantly shifting soundscapes of the album.

Gas Station Roses’ songs travel through varying emotional states just like one going through one’s own life, but each song is marked by hopeful tenderness. There’s the grungy lust-driven rock of “Weathered Romeo,” the plaintive Japanese pop-influenced ballad to a suffering partner, “Moon at the Peak,” the Afropop-tinged “Automatic Woman” with its message of defiance against misogyny, and the robust compassion of the final song, “Human Poses,” in which Mason sings “they’re roughin’ heaven up...turn it all off, I’m gonna turn it all off.” Going into the studio during a turbulent time on Earth, turning it all off, gave Mason a therapeutic way to understand and cope with all that was happening politically, while trying to offer something beautiful back to the world. In her words, Gas Station Roses is about “desiring life so badly still as a grown-up, getting the joy and beauty in big gulps, but also recognizing its limitations, corruptions, and sadness, more than I ever would as a child. And in the face of that, choosing to smile and stay awake to the beauty around us.”

credits

released September 6, 2019

Jenny Gillespie Mason - electric, baritone, and acoustic guitars, dulcimer, DX7, piano, Rhodes, vocals, percussion, drums

Carly Bond - electric guitars, backing vocals, dulcimer, quattro, piano, vibraslap, cuica, bass clarinet, flutes, percussion

Rob Shelton - Rhodes, DX7, keyboards, drum programming, clavinet, piano, Prophet 5

Otto Hauser - drums, toms, cymbals

Andrew Maguire - drums, backing vocals, marimba, mallets, glockenspiel, samples

Doug Stuart: bass, Moog bass

Jamie Riotto - bass on "Night from Scratch", CS50, keyboards, backing vocals

Mark Clifford - vibraphone, log drum, piano, backing vocals, percussion

Brijean Murphy- percussion, congas, shaker, backing vocals

Jan Purat - violin

Jacob Joseph - viola

Adam Hirsch - saxaphone

Nathan Swedlow - bowed bass

Marissa Deitz - cello

Gabby Fluke-Mogul - viola

Corry Todd - bowed bass

Recorded at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA and Oakland, CA, summer 2018-winter 2019

produced, written by Jenny Gillespie Mason, Robert Shelton, and Carly Bond

Engineered by Robert Shelton

Mixed by Robert Shelton and Carly Bond

Mastered by Dave McNair

out September 6 2019 on Native Cat Recordings

photo by Andrew Paynter

Cover art by Maxwell McMaster

Copyright Jenny Gillespie Mason/Native Cat Recordings 2019
Published by Native Cat Recordings/ASCAP

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about

Sis Berkeley, California

Sis is a project led by multi-instrumentalist/
vocalist Jenny Gillespie Mason

photo by Andrew Paynter

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