The Brooklyn duo, She Keeps Bees, comprised of Jessica Larrabee and Andy LaPlant, formed in 2006 after Larrabee was LaPlant’s bartender. Larrabee explains that “Nothing really clicked until I met Andy.” While she was working on solo material under the name She Keeps Bees, LaPlant was the perfect counterpart, bringing a strong rhythmic backbone to her naturally talented vocals and guitar playing. After two albums, “Nests” and “Dig On,” the band drew comparisons to Cat Power, Patti Smith, the Kills, and were quoted as “the White Stripes in reverse” by the Guardian.
*She Keeps Bee’s play at Brick and Mortar Music Hall September 3rd
The first track from their new album, Eight Houses, is simple and sweet. Lasting not even three minutes, “Feather Lighter” introduces the band to the listener with an intimate sample of what to expect: a subtle guitar riff layered with vibrato, overlapped with Jessica Larrabee’s warm vocals and poetic lyrics reminiscent to Mazzy Star or Elysian Fields. They’ve kept their raw, blues ridden mantras, but have elevated their sound to the next level.
Caught up in a musical era where glamour and pop have overridden the subtly of female sensuality and sensibility, Larrabee could be the one to bring back that powerful sultry swagger. There’s an undeniable sense that they wanted to make a impression with this album, creating an introspective experience for the listener. From start to finish it flows like an ocean’s rippled waves, connected and grounded to emotions, touching on something much greater than words written on paper. Larrabee seems to be questioning humanity and its history without any remorse, and in a manner that’s not overbearing but profoundly genuine.
The subtleties are appreciated on this record. The second track, “Breezy,” starts off with a simple bass line and drum beat that’s easy to nod your head to. There are subtle synth noises but nothing like the overproduced and tiring sounds that sometimes burden music these days. Raw and powerful guitars chime in halfway through the song, lending an intensity of Rage Against the Machine with a hypnotism of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” It’s haunting, intense, and innocently unforgiving.
The album also features guest appearances by Adam Schatz from Man Man, Sharon Van Etten singing back ups on “Is What it Is” and “Owl,” with Rare Book’s Room producer Nicolas Vernhes (Deerhunter, Dirty Projectors) helping define and shape the album. Nothing is ever overused or redundant, as LaPlant admits “having a producer was nice in that respect; if things were starting to sound too similar and we didn’t hear it, Nicolas wasn’t shy about letting us know.” From the soft pianos on “Burning Bowl” and “Radiance,” to the horns on “Owl,” nothing is ever exploited, but used just right. There’s a perfect balance of antique admiration with a modern acceptance that melds the great artists of the 70’s with todays current icons. They should be making a buzz with Eight Houses, which officially drops on September 16th, stinging the masses with their mesmerizing tunes.