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The Songbirds Radio Hour: Call Me Spinster

(Aired 4/13/24)

Call Me Spinster is one part kaleidoscopic indie rock, one part porchy holler pop — and every bit a family operation.

The brainchild of three sisters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Call Me Spinster skims nostalgia from psychedelic folk to 90’s synth-pop, weaving frank vocals with ethereal harmonies to make sense of their constantly growing world.

Band practice for Call Me Spinster is not your typical beer-fueled midnight garage rock. It starts at 10 a.m. A seven-month-old chews an XLR cord in the corner. A toddler naps in the next room over the screech of bass amps and keyboards. The sisters pause constantly to breastfeed, change a diaper, or lull a cranky child back to sleep.

The chaos of motherhood would cause most bands to stall, but Call Me Spinster has always rocked with children in the background. When Amelia, the eldest sister, became pregnant with her first child in 2017, she took maternity leave from her teaching job. The same month Amelia’s son was born, her sisters Rachel and Rosie quit their respective teaching jobs in Costa Rica and Portland, Oregon and joined Amelia in Chattanooga.

The sisters began by tackling Prince and Drake covers on a hodgepodge of acquired instruments — including their Amish grandfather’s old accordion, an upright bass, glockenspiel, and even the occasional pie pan. They busked, played brunch gigs and local festivals, then eventually opened for bigger touring acts across the Southeast. When they started applying their unorthodox arrangements to their own songs, they quickly attracted New West / Strolling Bones label head George Fontaine Sr., who connected them with producer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Faye Webster, Toro y Moi) to create their first EP in 2020.

“The result is a set of songs that they can certainly be proud of, a series of soft, shimmering melodies that convey both youthful enthusiasm and elegiac indulgence,” wrote American Songwriter.

Call Me Spinster’s first full-length album, Potholes, is out this spring of 2024 on Strolling Bones Records.

Tracks range from “nods to Robyn and ‘90s synth pop”… “moments of Minnie Riperton-era Rotary Connection and Air.” Other songs dip into the realm of country - folk, but in an unusually understated, anti-Nashville style, pedal steel or accordion pinging nostalgia but staying out of the way. Lyrics present a gentle, sometimes starkly candid view of domestic life. While the inspirations are raw, there is no shortage of technicolored joy on this album.

Call Me Spinster underscores emotional depth with bouncy electropop that makes you want to dance in public.