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The Secret Sisters' new album, backed by Jack White and produced by T-Bone Burnett, is called Put Your Needle Down. (Courtesy of Republic Records)

Dylan-Approved, Harmony-Loving Sisters Keep It Retro

by Meredith Ochs
Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Meredith Ochs

Porcelain complected, red-lipsticked, blue-eyed and raven-haired, The Secret Sisters' look seems cultivated to match the duo's sound. Real-life sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers are as flawlessly retro as Mad Men and as lively and bold as Bettie Page, and their voices ring in impeccable harmonies that soar straight into The Everly Brothers' territory.

The two have already attracted the attention of Jack White, who put out one of their singles on his own record label. They've also found a perfect partner in producer T-Bone Burnett, whose distinct sonic stamp frames the songs of their new album, Put Your Needle Down, in a timeless fashion.

The sisters' debut album was heavily influenced by classic country singers. They absorbed their strum-and-twang sensibilities while growing up in a musically inclined family from a region rich in American music history, Muscle Shoals, Ala. Their new album is a leap forward, showing artistic growth and sophistication. You can hear it in the jazz-inflected sound of "Dirty Lie," a demo that Bob Dylan started writing in the 1980s, but never finished (Dylan sent it over to the sisters personally). It's the only song in their repertoire that they don't sing harmonies on, but by adding more lyrics and styling it up, they make it their own.

Even in their lyrics, the sisters have mastered the art of looking backward and forward at the same time. Their love songs often explore the power struggle in romantic relationships. Sometimes they keep the upper hand, sometimes they don't. But from their lips, even forlorn acquiescence sounds more like ruminating in a Hawaiian paradise than a bad breakup.

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The Secret Sisters' new album, backed by Jack White and produced by T-Bone Burnett, is called Put Your Needle Down. (Courtesy of Republic Records)

On Russian Call-in Show, Putin Maintains Hard Line Against West

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes he won't have to move troops into Ukraine to protect the local Russian-speaking population, but he reserves the right to do so. He made the comments on a televised call-in show.

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Kumail Nanjiani (from left) Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's new sitcom about young programmers trying to hit it rich. (HBO)

'Silicon Valley' Asks: Is Your Startup Really 'Making The World Better'?

Apr 17, 2014 (Fresh Air)

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Mike Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract.

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Mike Judge is no stranger to workplace comedy — back in 1999, he wrote and directed the cult classic Office Space, which poked fun at desk job-induced ennui in a 1990s software company.

Now, more than a decade later, Judge continues to find humor in the tech industry. In his new HBO sitcom, Silicon Valley, Judge explores what happens when young computer geeks become millionaires.

"The tech world has become really interesting to me, especially in recent years," Judge tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. Judge recognizes certain personality types from his college days and from his brief Silicon Valley engineering career in the '80s. "Just knowing those types and seeing them suddenly have billions and billions of dollars — there's just something funny about it to me," he says, "and it's something I hadn't really seen explored that much."

Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Idiocracy and Extract.


Interview Highlights

On the trope of Silicon Valley startups saying their work is "making the world a better place"

I suppose some of the stuff they're doing is making the world a better place, it's just what's interesting to me is it always seems to me to be this obligatory thing that they have to throw in there and that's why we made fun of it in the series. Some people are making the world a better place, some maybe aren't, but it's just funny that most of it, it's just capitalism. They're trying to make their companies as big and profitable as possible, which is fine, but it's always shrouded in this, "we're making the world a better place" stuff. ...

Like a company trying to put Internet in all these third world African countries and ... maybe they are making the world a better place ... they're also making a ton of money doing it. They don't talk about that as much.

When we got green-lit to series I took all the writers, we went to an incubator and they bring out their first company and it's a company and it's five guys ... and then they pitch their app and at the end of it the guy kind of throws in, "You know, and making the world a better place." Like, "Oh yeah, I almost forgot." I think that's kind of funny; it's almost a religion where you have to say "amen."

On the success of Office Space

I think if I hadn't done animated shorts and if I hadn't had two hit TV shows back-to-back that movie never would've happened. ... I guess I just kinda wanted [Fox] to trust me. ... When it didn't do well at the box office right away it was like, "OK, I guess we shouldn't trust you," but now it's made them lots of money, it has been a profitable movie... To be fair to them, some people say, "Oh, Fox didn't promote it well." That was a hard one to cut a trailer from, especially. I think you could now, but it's a weird movie.

On the famous boss character in Office Space and his tagline of "Hmm ... yeah ..."

It wasn't [based on] any specific person. It kind of came a few different ways. I worked at Whataburger which is a Texas-New Mexico chain, of a burger place, and I worked at Jack-in-the-Box, this is when I was young. ... The worst thing ever at both of those jobs is to change the fryers and the way that someone will say, "Yeah, um, Mike, why don't you go ahead and change the fryers?" To say "go ahead" it's like you were just chomping at the bit to go do it and I'm just gonna cut you loose and go ahead — now it's so common place. ...

In the '50s a boss would say "Hey Milton, move your desk. Thanks." I don't know if it's the baby boom generation where everyone has to be cool, suddenly in the '70s and '80s it turned into, "Yeah ... if I could get you just go ahead and move your desk." And it's this kind of "I'm casual, I'm cool. I'm not your '50s boss."

I would just prefer someone just coming up and telling you what to do. I would respect [that] more. ... Even over the years just noticing the "yeah" that means "no." Like if you say, "Can I have Friday off?"

"Hmm ... Yeah ..."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Kumail Nanjiani (from left) Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's new sitcom about young programmers trying to hit it rich. (HBO)

Why Israel Is Staying On The Sidelines In Ukraine Crisis

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered) — Israel has been largely silent about Russia's muscling in on Ukraine. The tiny country -- with a Russian Jewish foreign minister -- seems to want to preserve its good relations with Moscow.

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Mike Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract.

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Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
Kumail Nanjiani (from left) Martin Starr, Thomas Middleditch, Zach Woods and T.J. Miller star in Silicon Valley, Mike Judge's new sitcom about young programmers trying to hit it rich. (HBO)

Amid The Tumult, What Dangers Face Minorities In Ukraine?

Apr 17, 2014 (All Things Considered) — Rita Izsak, the United Nations' special rapporteur on minority issues, discusses her recent visit to Ukraine.

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Mike Judge created the animated series Beavis and Butt-head and King of the Hill, and wrote and directed Office Space, Idiocracy and Extract.

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Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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