Vivian and Midge Ramone are the sisters behind ShiSho, Akron-area duo with a new album out now. The 16- and 13-year old duo weave avante-garde tunes filled with witticism and weird, which fits a band name that means “inappropriate giggle” in Japanese. At times ranging into self-described punk songs, ShiSho defies simple categorization with guitar and accordion work. The two also show exceptional maturity, performing mostly original work in live performances. Since their 2004 debut with Get Behind Me Santa, their topics have ranged from evil clowns to the fiscal cliff, and everything in between. Besides being unique, ShiSho is active, participating in local fundraisers and awareness raisers, like the Silver Oaks campaign in Kent. While ShiSho may not exactly be a “new artist,” they’re not old hat, either. On this Father’s Day, it seems worthwhile to point out what difference having supportive parents can make in kids’ lives.
Overall, The Sisters EP is short, sweet, and to the point- don’t judge a book by its cover. Or in this case, don’t write off a pair of teen girls in nun costumes as nothing worth listening to. The lyrics are zany, and the music is perky. The fourth song, The Dead Milkmen Song, features the Dead Milkmen in person. One listen, and it’s easy to see how the Ramones ended up on the Dr. Demento show in 2012.
It’s Coming to Get You (The Evil Clown Song) is fast-paced and lively, and a horror story from every child’s worst nightmare- that the scary clown from Grandma really is out to get you. The slightly frantic tempo of the song fits the immature fear that clowns can too often invoke. Chicken Poofie begins with a techno intro before going into a retro-synth sound under vocals about a true loser with no friends but his dust bunnies. The next song goes slower and lower, entering minor key for a more depressing tone (relatively speaking; it’s hard to imagine Vivian and Midge going truly dark) in Ohio Man. If you’re a fan of The Vandals, or especially The Dead Milkmen, then The Dead Milkmen Song and its teenage angst will be a favorite off of this album. The closing song, Shrouded in Shadows, has possibly the best duets by the sisters, with even-handed instrumentation throughout and leaves the album feeling pulled together and finished.
While their skill is still being refined, ShiSho shows lots of promise, and their go-get-it-iveness is astonishing. Live performances, song writing, studio recordings, and a label- all before age eighteen. These are the role models young artists need; don’t let anything including age stop you from obtaining your goal as an artist.
Personnel: Midge Ramone (Accordion, Vocals), Vivian Ramone (Guitar, Ukulele, Vocals)
Tracks: It’s Coming To Get You (The Evil Clown Song), Chicken Poofie, Ohio Man, The Dead Milkmen Song (ft. the Dead Milkmen), Shrouded in Shadows