Sister Act

On "Pocket," the opening track of So Hi How Are You, Big Sister waste no time in showing off their strengths: fat, crunchy power chords, two big sets of drums, three guitarists and Lara Parks' sandpaper blues-belt of a voice.

The tight, all-female sextet began in upstate New York as a blues band, but despite the harmonica-drenched "Love Letters" (RealAudio excerpt) — a notable highlight — So Hi is more rock and funk than blues. Packed with attitude, wah-wah guitar and insistently catchy hooks, the album is the perfect soundtrack to a house party.

Lyrically, "When She Goes" and "Christmas in July" are the most fully detailed and, not coincidentally, two of the strongest songs here, while "Talk Down to Me" (RealAudio excerpt) is the most emotionally direct. "Pretty" (RealAudio excerpt) and especially "Around," with its deep funk grooves and harmonies, are less lyrically engaging but more typical of the band's sound.

There's a tough, personable appeal to Parks' voice, and all six women possess solid instrumental chops. Too bad their assertive power isn't matched by their material. It would be good to hear them distinguish themselves with more than just catchy hooks.