Sister Cities
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Sister Cities

Tempe, Arizona, United States | SELF

Tempe, Arizona, United States | SELF
Band Rock Pop


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"NPR - Second Stage: Little Known Bands You Should Hear"

this was a good article :) - National Public Radio

"Song of the Day "White Dress""

JAVA Magazine article - Sounds Around Town

"Local music notes"

Phoenix-based indie rockers Sister Cities have been winning over crowds at their electric live shows for about two years, hooking in fans with their irresistibly catchy tunes, soaring vocals and garage-rock leanings. This Friday, the band is holding a CD release party for their debut album, "Iluminación Espiritual," at Hollywood Alley in Mesa.

"Iluminación Espiritual," which means "Spiritual Enlightenment" in Spanish, is a combination of two recording sessions the band did at Flying Blanket studios in Mesa over the past year. Sister Cities' front-man Brett Davis said the sessions were done some time apart, so the new LP will show a literal progression in the band's sound.

"We had initially wanted to record the entire album all at once, but we were pretty broke at the time and only got through the first four songs," said Davis. "But I think that was for the best, because the newer material is much fuller and is a better indication of the direction we're heading towards as a band.

"I think the album really flows together nicely though and really builds as it goes along," said Davis.

Davis said he and drummer Courtney Robinson started playing together in 2006. After their first bass player left, Spike Brendle stepped in to replace her, and while vacationing in Mexico, Davis and Robinson met Ana Barazza, who would eventually move to Phoenix and add her keyboard skills to the group.

"Ana really has a lot to do with the way the band sounds now, adding another layer with the keyboards and bringing a Spanish influence to the sound," said Davis. "This band has just come together so naturally and all the pieces fit together just right, so I'm very excited about where we can go from here."

So far, the comments on Sister Cities' MySpace page read like a series of gushing love notes, as fans sing the praises of their thoughtful but lighthearted tunes. Their breezy single "White Dress" was voted "Best Summer Song of 2009" by Yab Yum Music in their Arizona Songwriter contest, and Sister Cities has shows lined up for the next couple of weeks, including sets at Modified, the Rogue Bar and the Yucca Tap Room.

"I feel like we're really solidifying our identity as a band and we're managing to carve out a niche for ourselves," said Davis. "Our songs are pretty poppy and indie rock, but I think we're finding our own place in songwriting and hopefully people will really hear that on the record."

"Producer Notes"

Oh man, I love love love this band. I recorded, produced and engineered four songs for them in April of 2008 at the new studio. They sort of have a White Stripes thing going on, though they have a bass player, so you may not totally agree with that assessment.

Anyway, I love this band. Can't wait until their record comes out and we record some more songs. you can hear unmastered snippets on their site. - Bob Hoag - Flying Blanket Studios

"Sister Cities CD review"

I was recently sent on this fantastic track from Arizona up-and-comers Sister Cities by their manager Keith Walker (yep, he of the powerful dreams). Gotta say from the getgo I was completely smitten. Because while ‘White Dress’ is a stripped back affair it has the temperament and bolshie swagger to snag your affections completely. Sister Cities have an album’s worth of similar material pretty much ready to go and it sounds really good, it’s exciting to hear something vibrant and alive in a most stagnant of rock pools. Long after you’ve turned off your player that tight piano line and cool vocals will continue on their endless ricochet around your consciousness. KD -

"Flying Blanket compilation release party review"

If and when they make a movie called "The Worst" it HAS to star the spray on tan assholes that stood in everybody's way taking pictures of themselves looking like (and being) douchebags and whores rather than watching the show going on right in front of their faces... at my favorite Scottsdale AZ nightspot Martini Ranch this past Friday for the Flying Blanket Recording compilation CD release party. It has been a REALLY long time since I have been back to Martini Ranch and they have made a lot of changes, mostly to the stage and lighting. I am not gonna lie it's pretty fucking awesome, considering it used to just be a little triangle in the corner with some shitty French doors leading out to the patio area. But enough Martini Ranch talk... the show itself was pretty great. Any time you get MOST (Why no What Laura Says?) of the best bands in Phoenix together no matter where it's at you are pretty much guaranteed to a great night. That being said I won't bore you with a long ass review because if you even give a shit you were probably there and just want to see some pictures... - Electric Mustache

"Band of the Week"

Sister Cities puts the fun back in Rock Roll. They some how combine smooth with high energy garage sound that some how just makes you want to dance. Melodic choruses, warm guitars, driving bass and drums in a dreamy rock ‘n roll wonderland with sprinkles of surf and psychedelia. Oh and they have a CD coming out next week (September 11th to be precice) It sounds like: You are dreaming you are at your high school prom wearing special shoes that make you a dancing prodigy when your biggest crush that you never had the courage to talk to comes and up to ask you for a dance. -

""Iluminacion Espiritual" best AZ album of 2009"

Sister Cities have evolved from a folky lo-fi White Stripes/Black Lips novelty duo to an aurally abundant quartet by adding a pianist Ana Barraza a year or so after adding bass player Spike Brendle. Iluminacion Espiritual features re-mastered versions from their 4-song promo CD-R they were handing out in the summer of 2008 carefully place as the even number tracks. The odd numbers are the five new songs, including the well constructed "The Other Boys" which brings to mind both their long standing love for the Cold War Kids and the contagious, but well hidden, Death Cab For Cutie bug that most indie rock bands suffer from. Singer Brett Davis has a skilled, yet verdant soulful voice that spits melodies which retain raw folkness rather than achieve pop deception. Although I appreciate all elements involved, including Davis' guitar playing, his vocals and curiously post-adolescent lyrics are definitely the x-factor on what makes Sister Cities special. Besides the effort of one originating member, what is truly captured is the fun that their audience has when experiencing the band live. Courtney Robinson's getty-up drum patterns really wake up the senses in prep for goosebump-induced vocal and piano passages. If you have followed the band from their earliest carnation (2006?), then this album is a true mark of maturation and should easily abet some hometown pride. Credit, but don't over-credit, producer Bob Hoag. His engineering and audio shaping skills help make this CD achieve the warmth and depth of your favorite vinyl records. Although I have covered Sister Cities before by posting mp3s, promoting their events, heralding their greatness, etc., I truly feared that reviewing their first full length CD this late in the game would truly set me up as a band wagoner. With a few exceptions (BatteryInYourLeg's Sean Ryan immediately heeded my advice and reviewed "The Other Boys" single back in October), the local indie rock journalism world has yet to catch on. So while I vote Iluminacion Espiritual the best Phoenix, AZ album of the year, I also claim Sister Cities a band most desperately need of a professional manager, someone to help get their music out to more ears. Until then I do not mind at all being one of the only folks in Arizona to write about them periodically. -

"White Dress named best summer song of 2009"

Sure, Sister Cities sounds like Glasgow might be home, but they are an Arizona band and their music slices through heat like a cool, westerly breeze. "White Dress" is a great summer song. Great for road trips or hiding from the weather in our air conditioned caves. -

"Band of the Month"

With their first album, Iluminación Espiritual, released this past week Sister Cities is ready to take over the world, or at least, the Phoenix Metro Area. Their temperate garage pop sounds crisp with a uniquely cohesive musicality for such a young group.
When I first heard the band’s song “White Dress” for YabYumMusic’s Summer Song Contest (which, by the way, they won) I was surprised by the extent of Sister Cities sound of place. Not, as one might expect, a desert sound. Instead, they have a distinctly Brit-Pop quality that only growing up in Glasgow seems to provide. The group’s lighthearted, mid-tempo pop style is reminiscent of mid ‘60s radio classics like the Beach Boys.

Sister Cities’ early recordings, although certainly not Mod Podged together, lack the cohesion and uniqueness that make their latest releases really shine.

The lacking luminosity caught fire with the addition of Ana Barraza, the band’s keyboardist originally from Mexico City who met group members Courtney Robinson and Brett Davis in Rocky Point. Ana’s Euro-pop style has completely distorted my sense of musical geography,

The vocals provided by Courtney (drummer) and Brett (guitarist) sound straight out of America – and, this time, I mean it in a good way. Both reject, by accident or design, the faint, almost frail vocal direction of many a Glasgow band has opted for, i.e. Camera Obscura, Travis, etc. Instead, Courtney charges bravely into songs with strength, spirit, and the slight and occasional Karen O vocal grind. Brett, on the other hand, might be Boy-Band material were it not for the hipster in his soul and lyrics.

Courtney as drummer holds the group together with her thoughtfully understated yet compelling rhythm. A particular triple thump from Courtney and you know just a moment before it happens that Sister Cities is about to burst simultaneously into “White Dress,” a YabYum favorite, or a curt rap means “We Don’t” is on the way. Spike Brendle completes the rhythm section on bass.

Catch these kids before the national scene catches on… -

"The Other Boys review"

I’m don’t often talk about Arizona-based bands on the blog. It’s not a lack of interest, mind you. It’s simply that a lot of the local bands around here that I’m familiar with are emo/hardcore variations, and those aren’t genres that have typically resonated with me. I like a poppy Jimmy Eat World song as much as the next guy, but I’m usually not inspired to dive in any deeper than a single here or there.

Thank goodness my buddy Will passed on this song by Phoenician quartet Sister Cities! My cursed experience with Phoenix bands is now broken. Despite an obvious addiction to fancy sunglasses, these kids have a way with a pop tune. Track ‘The Other Boys’ sounds a bit like Jack Penate crossed with The Delta Spirit. It’s simple but lovely, and I find I’m always a sucker for a little bit of ivory tickling. It feels a bit earnest but without tipping over into schmaltz, and that’s a crucial distinction.

If you like what you hear, you can pick up the album on CD Baby here. You can also preview the other tracks there, though they seem to have more of a britpopish flair than this one (not that it’s a bad thing by any means).

"Phoenix New Times feature"

Sister Cities Goes Global to Craft Its American Indie Rock
- Phoenix New Times

"Interview with Ken Fallon of CLUAS Ireland"

Interview - CLUAS

"Toolbox - single review"

It’s been almost 2 years to the day since Phoenix’s Sister Cities appeared here. In that time ex-Power of Dreamer Keith Walker has gone from being the band’s manager to being their drummer. This has led to a tour both here and in the UK. Not a bad start and when you hear how they’ve followed up on the faultless ‘White Dress’ you’ll start to believe that they really have something special going on. ‘Toolbox’ is as much up tempo as it is down tempo but its most refreshing characteristic is how original it sounds. I can even hear something from the Apprentice theme tune in there. Sorcery on this scale won’t go unnoticed for too much longer, now that’s what I call Positivity. -

" interview"

Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, Sister Cities have just released their excellent debut single ‘White Dress’ on this side of the Atlantic with UK label 100% Music. Consisting of Brett (guitar and vocals), Courtney (drums and vocals), Spike (bass and vocals) and Ana (keys, guitar and vocals), they took some time out recently to tell Ken Fallon about how it all came together…

Tell us a little about how you got together as a band? Were you friends beforehand?
We all went to high school together and always had music as a common interest, we played as a two piece (drums/guitar/vocals) before adding bass and keys. We met Ana while on vacation in Mexico and somehow convinced her to move to Arizona and join the band!

How has your music evolved since you first got together as a band?
The evolution of our sound has been sort of a natural progression. We started out in Courtney's garage just trying to play anything that sounded good together, and over time we fell into a niche of our own. Now when we write songs we know what we want to hear. We are always trying to push the limits of our sound.

Could you reveal a little about the creative process? Is there one specific songwriter or do you collaborate on the songs?
Our songwriting process starts with one idea…it could be anything. It could be any instrument, or even just a word. Once we all agree on something, we develop it further as a group. This is our favorite part of being in a band - just taking a simple idea and creating something we can be proud of.

What are your influences? How would you describe your music?
There are so many great bands coming out nowadays (that) being a part of this time in music is inspiring in itself. Bands are doing whatever they want, no boundaries. But as far as bands that inspired us to start playing together… The Strokes, Delta Spirit, Cold War Kids, The Raveonettes, Zoe, etc…If we were to classify ourselves in a made - up genre, it would have to be "Noise/Garage-Pop". But don't quote us on that - (even though it’s in quotations!).

Could you tell us a little about the music you have released to date? I read that your debut album is a combination of your first two EPs?

We've released two EPs ourselves, one of which will be included in our upcoming full length. The first EP is a representation of the early stages of our band, we feel the newer songs are a better representation of where we're going with our sound.

What’s the music scene like in your hometown of Tempe, Arizona? Are you tempted to move to LA or New York to develop as a band?
We are friends with some great local bands. There's also some awesome venue owners and promoters who really care about the music community and want to see it grow. There are some bands that are too cool for school…but for the most part - good people, good music. We'd love to move anywhere, just for a change of location. We're in no big hurry.

You recently signed to UK label 100% music. Do you have plans to create a stronger presence in the UK and Ireland and beyond? Any plans for a tour over here?
Absolutely! We feel so honored for the opportunity of people in Europe to hear our music! We would love to tour out there but first we want to put the final touches on this album.

Your manager Keith was in a successful Irish band in the 90s. His experience in the music industry must be a huge help to you as a young band starting out?
We've become close friends with Keith - he's a great person and a huge help to us. Thanks, Keith! -

"new single, "Toolbox" review"

Like with any record there are good, decent, and interesting tracks, and then there are the songs that make you stop and say, "Oh shit! REPEAT!”. Well, there are three solid tracks on this record that I found myself excitedly anticipating through my various listens. The first being the opening track "Toolbox" by Sister Cities. I can only describe this song as beautifully haunting. Extremely vocally driven and spacey. This song also features some of the most unique transitions I have heard from a local band in a while. - Moosh Music review

"Sister Cities demo review"

"oh yeah, you can dance to this"
This is one of the most addicting locals we’ve heard in a while. Although their music isn’t as bright and sunny as the now unfortunately defunct Format, the band still induces that Beach Boys, falling in love on the Ferris wheel feeling. We received a copy of Sister Cities new four song demo/ep recently, and I just can’t get enough of these songs. From beginning to end this disc has an almost dreamlike feel. The opening track, “White Dress”, is phenomenal. I instantaneously fell in love with its drum/piano intro, sounding like something similar to a 1960’s Zombies release. Aside from the songs smile inducing into, I have to be honest what really grabbed my attention the most about this track, and I know this is rarely heard, was the bass. I really enjoy and respect bands who can utilize their bassists’ abilities as more of a lead than rhythm. Maybe not too much though, we don’t want it going to their heads. I’m looking at you Fat Mike! The second track, “The Other Boys”, seems to be the most serious song of the four, as far as sound and style are concerned. With its very saleable chorus this is probably also the most commercial sounding song on the disc. Not that it is a bad thing. Bands don’t like eating on the dollar menu all the time either people! The last two tracks “Lately” and “Bruised Knees” are both good songs as well. We just found that we kept the first two on a more constant rotation than the latter. One more thing we need to mention, yeah yeah we do a lot we know, but we believe in giving credit where its do, is that the band worked with producer/engineer Bob Hoag on the tracks. It must be something about the way you record drums Bob. You can pick up a copy of this savory disc for free, amazingly, directly from the band at any of their shows. - Moosh Music review

"This is Flying Blanket Vol. II review"

Sister Cities mentioned as one of the "standout tracks" on compilation. -

"An Outsider's review"

With their nifty mixture of garage, surf, and sunny pop, the Sister Cities feel like they could be from the mid 60’s California scene. Yet, the Sister Cities have a modern sensibility that is very now. Think a better version of the Raveonettes, or a more aural version of the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, or a leaner British Sea Power. Whatever you think, they’re a great show. - Seven Car Pileup

"Show/E.P. review"

I have seen Sister Cities perform a few times within the two years they've been in existence. With each performance, I gain more love and respect for them. In 2007, they converted from a co-ed duo into a well rounded power trio which both improved their stage sound AND helped disqualify all the annoying White Stripes comparisons.

2008 saw the threesome work in the studio with stylish producer Bob Hoag on four songs that would eventually become their first EP. Titled Handprints, Sister Cities have chosen to burn copies and give away as many as possible for free at their live shows.

Dismissing the lack of retail packaging that I usually feel is important, I can't think of any CD-R from an unsigned band that I have been waiting more eagerly for than the paper labeled disc bassist Spike gave me last Sunday night. At every Sister Cities performance, one song in particular ("The Wait") has always stuck out and I felt rewarded in some way when I found that song as the EP's third track. It only took me five minutes to get home that night, but I sat in my car for an extra ten minutes so I can hear the song two more times. Then I brought it up to my bedroom stereo and heard it three more times. It was one of those A-HA moments I have had with only a few unsigned bands...that "Holy Shit! This is good enough to be... (fill in the blanks)".

Both lead and backing vocals are smooth, melodic, and mildly passionate. If you know anything about Bob Hoag's skills as an analog producer, you'd know there is not a morsel of any Pro-Tools or digital auto-tune technology involved with the vocal tracks. I am impressed with the work of vocalist/guitarist Brett including - not only his crooning - but his string work as well. It's an appropriate reverbed layer of slightly over-driven jazz chords similar to the recorded works of Outrageous Cherry or The Ponys, but without the retro-esque vibe of the former or the noisy ambiance of the latter.

As I glow in my new "Holy Shit" moment, I did manage to sit down with a few friends and practically force them to hear this track as if I had manifested into some sort of agent for the band. I am just a fan, a huge fan. And I want everyone to hear. -


Iluminacion Espiritual (2009)
Self Titled EP (2010)
Pockets (2011)



Formed in Fountain Hills, Arizona in the summer of 2006. Over the past 5 years the band has cultivated a sound that has brought well deserved attention in the U.S. as well as in European markets. While on a weekend trip to Mexico the band had a chance meeting with Ana Barraza guitar/keyboard/vocals - the band and Ana clicked instantly and Ana packed her bags and moved to Phoenix. After Ana’s arrival, the group quickly began to work on new material. Armed with a batch of new songs, Sister Cities booked studio time with local producer Bob Hoag(The Ataris, The Format, Scary Kids Scaring Kids, Dear and the Headlights).

After a hugely successful session with Hoag, the group announced the limited edition release of the Sister Cities self titled EP. Since its release, the EP has provoked glowing reviews both in and out of the United States, and has set the template for an incredible future. With the addition of a new drummer, Keith Walker (of early 90's Irish "Power of Dreams" fame), and a brand new EP, "Pockets," the band has taken the next step in maturing as a distinguished musical act and was recently given a full page article in the Phoenix New Times along with a feature on the NPR All Songs Considered music blog.