Get local news delivered straight to your phone

We can't make City Paper without you

$
$
$

Your contribution is appreciated.

Mediocre but cool bands from New York have it easy: Unless they make a clunker like Liars’ They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, a wee bit of buzz can translate into a two- or three-year honeymoon. It usually takes a while for the rest of us to follow NYC’s lead, and once we finally do, the folks back home tend to get protective, despite their reputation for fickleness. In this environment, the Rogers Sisters have seemed like one more Brooklyn band with enough chops to get noticed for more than its area code. Though the trio’s 2002 debut, Purely Evil, showed a healthy appreciation for all things CBGB, it ultimately seemed more like a rhetorical exercise than a musical breakout. The follow-up, however, gets much closer to mattering: Instead of filling her songs with scratchy, generic postpunk riffage, guitarist/vocalist Jennifer Rogers injects the new Three Fingers mostly with brief outbursts of attitude. “I used to take small bites of rainbows/Yards and yards of cotton-candy tulle,” she sneers on “Five Months.” “Now I can only dream of them/Sweet things, how I long for you.” The tactic leaves ample room for drummer Laura Rogers and bassist/vocalist Miyuki Furtado to lay down thick, pleasingly basic rhythms. Not that Three Fingers isn’t an art-punk record—the reference list starts with Gang of Four and the B-52s, and ends somewhere around early Sonic Youth and the Pixies—but it’s a fairly unstudied one. Even when Jennifer delivers a healthy dose of snottiness on “Fantasies Are Nice,” it sounds universally postadolescent, not exclusively hipsterish. Near the end of the song, the escalating shopping list (kitchenette, Learjet, White House, Pentagon…) adds a perfect dollop of sociopolitics as the music transforms from precise not-quite-funk to looser not-quite-skronk. Other tracks are either more danceable (“Secrets of Civilization”) or more primal (“Freight Elevator”), but their overall quality tends to be uniformly higher than their Evil counterparts’. Come to think of it, maybe that’s the subliminal message of Three Fingers: Even in New York, growth is the most effective tool for remaining relevant.

—Joe Warminsky