Subtlety is not one of Kara E. Sherman's strong suits. "That's pretty much how I am, so I guess that's how it comes across," said Sherman, one half of local "lesbian-fronted electro anti-folk" duo Team Smile & Nod, during an interview last week.
Subtlety is not one of Kara E. Sherman's strong suits.
"That's pretty much how I am, so I guess that's how it comes across," said Sherman, one half of local "lesbian-fronted electro anti-folk" duo Team Smile & Nod, during an interview last week.
"It cracks me up to just be very blunt," Sherman continued. "But I'm actually kind of playing with that idea a little bit now. Some songs I'm trying to leave a little room for interpretation."
In the meantime, there's little chance to mistake Sherman's point of view on Look Both Ways Before You Die, the band's full-length debut. While tracks like the Everything But the Girl-reminiscent "Still Stuck" dabble in romance, the bulk of the band's songs are stridently political.
Sherman's lefty politics come through loud and clear on diatribes like "Consumer Whore," "Patriarchy in Print" and "Scrooge," her response to indiscriminate "Merry Christmas!" greetings. "Extinct," a new song recently debuted on MySpace, tackles environmentalism.
Such blatant lyrics go down easier thanks to slick arrangements and production. Sherman's songs transcend the trappings of standard folkie outrage with the help of collaborator Rich Ratvasky.
The duo began writing music together four years ago when electronic producer Ratvasky surprised Sherman by remixing one of her Ani DiFranco-inspired acoustic ditties.
The combination clicked. Since then, they've compiled hours' worth of tracks, their once-isolated creative roles gradually blurring together in the process.
"Pretty much every way you can think of, we did," Ratvasky said.
A second album, Mourningtime, is in the works for early next year. Sherman said the album will include numerous songs about the death of her mother, which she's been processing through songwriting for half a decade. "Kill Myself to Death," a track from Look Both Ways, is one example.
"She did die in a movie theater, which I think is hilarious," Sherman said. "I love finding the irony in everything, the humor in everything."
As they work on the new material, Team Smile & Nod is trying to turn heads in Columbus, where they've thus far been an isolated entity without a community of bands to share gigs and ideas with. They had some success playing shows at East Village, but the bar shut down before they could build much momentum there.
"That was depressing," Sherman said. "We had a good thing there. We really wanted to build things there."
Their showcase Saturday afternoon at the Pride Festival ought to provide ample exposure. The duo, used to playing for hours on end, has prepared a succinct, pride-themed set for the festivities. As Sherman said, "We have enough to draw from."
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