Photo: Alexander Uhrich
Female-fronted shoegaze outfit armed with a punk-rock sneer and swagger?
Raucous ’90s alt-rock revivalists touting surf-rock melodies? Beach House boasting an edge and a litany of distortion pedals?
It’s hard to say what Is/Is is, exactly, but the Minneapolis outfit appears to be that way for a reason.
“The first songs that we played were songs we had written when we were 14, 15 years old,” guitarist/singer Sarah Rose said. “We didn’t know what we were going for. We didn’t have any idea of what we wanted to be. It was just an organic thing, the way we sounded.”
Armed with an ambiguous, but engaging sound and a damn near un-Googleable name, just when you start to pin down Is/Is, the trio jumps across the map, as elusive as Carmen Sandiego.
After three years of lineup changes beyond the core of Rose and bassist/ singer Sarah Nienaber, the addition of drummer Ronnie Lee could have been construed as a steadying force for the sonic shape shifters; it’s done no such thing, not that Lee hasn’t proven to be a valuable boost of energy to the team.
“We just wrote tons of new stuff,” Rose said. “We reinvented our sound a little bit and got super-focused. It’s so much more solid now.”
After putting nearly three years of painstaking work into the group’s proper debut, III, Is/Is has put together enough material for a six-song release currently being completed.
“It took us a long time to put that album together, but we learned a lot about working together toward something,” Rose said. “It taught us how to make a record. This time around, it’s been really smooth.”
The band is chomping at the bit to tour in support of the new songs after only making one national trek in support of III, with a spring jaunt that includes Tuesday’s stop at The Conservatory, and hopefully one in the fall.
True to form, the fresh material is more multicolored than monochromatic, which is exactly how Is/Is likes it to be.
“Each song has its own mood,” Rose said. “It doesn’t have a specific genre, but it always sounds like us.”
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