Music News

Sister Lovers: Paula Stop Pretending (1993)

Welcome to Obscuro, a weekly feature where Up on the Sun dives deep into the world of vinyl oddities: private press jobs, major label cast-offs, and general thrift shop clutter that's thus far escaped anyone's attention. These LPs have been hiding out, collecting dust, until we come along, investigate, probe and listen. Records, neglected by the years, given their moment in the blog-light.

Brian Eno is purported to have said "Only five thousand people ever bought a Velvet Underground album, but every single one of them started a band," and its become a cliche to toss about similar statements about Big Star, the Memphis band that helped define the power-pop sound. 2010 was a rough year for Big Star fans, we saw the death of songwriter Alex Chilton on Saint Patrick's Day and of original bassist Andy Hummel in July. Last week marked the 32 year anniversary of original guitarist Chris Bell's death.

As hacked as it is to repeat it, the quote still remains true. Big Star never sold many records in their lifespan, but they did influence a generation of punk bands, art rockers and indie-sadsacks. One of those bands was apparently Sister Lovers, a Vancouver band from the '90s, who took their name from Big Star's fragmented third album.

Not that they sound just like Big Star. The four songs presented on the Paula Stop Pretending owe as much to the weirdo sounds of They Might Be Giants or the slacker grooves of Pavement as they do the Memphis institution. The band featured two distinct songwriters, Mark Kleiner and Petey Wheatjeans. Kleiner (credited here as "Kleinz") pens title track and "Playing Thru the Bell," the more melodic tracks, while Wheatjeans contributes the more disjointed "Pleasant" and "A Winter's Tale."

The band is perhaps most like Big Star in the way they faded away. Music historians have been kind to Big Star as they've re-examined the band's pop influence, and perhaps if Sister Lovers had stuck around long enough to crank out a couple more proper albums, maybe they'd be set for the same fate. As is, they are more then welcome here in Obscuro land- this is easily the coolest record I've come across in my search for oddities.

Details: Sister Lovers, Paul Stop Pretending, Horrifying Music International, 1993

Google Search Reveals:
The bands manager, Jody, left a pretty detailed band history on the Nardwaur (a Canadian treasure if ever there was one) message board, which was reprinted on Facebook: "Sister Lovers came together under an odd agenda: to demo an original tune for the consideration of Mickey Dolenz, a dubious scheme that met with an icy response from the former Monkee." The rest is a pretty interesting story, and can be read here.

Kleiner went out to issue some solo albums, as well, sounding more power-pop and more conventional. Here's a fantastic single:

Who Bought This: Weirdo art-rock kids, power-pop fiends. I'd be very interested in hearing those Kleiner solo records. Anyone got them?

Apologies for the quality of the rip- my copy of the record is quite scratchy.

Sister Lovers-Playing on Tru the Bell by Obscuro @PHXMusic

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.