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She Keeps Bees
Nests Meryl Trussler , August 7th, 2009 13:16

There is one surprise in Nests: this band are not like their name. From a moniker such as She Keeps Bees extends a twee road (you'll know it when you see it, with all the bluebirds on toadstools and so on) and a folk road (similar, but with more ivy); they've aborted both to jump down a manhole, into the darkness.

See, Jessica Larrabee of Brooklyn keeps bees in her oesophagus, and sits coughing to herself till she can sing them out again. She keeps bees in boyfriend Andy LaPlant's amplifier till a good Scout Niblett-brand power chord busts them free, buzzing deathly. They make blues rock full of honey full of dirt.

But there the surprises end. That's okay; the world doesn't. Nests is nothing new; it sits pretty somewhere between Cat Power and Wildbirds & Peacedrums (ie hot grunting guitar, big-girl vocals, the odd acapella/percussion frenzy), but that position would give any red-blooded anyone the happy sweats, would it not? So no complaints there. The album does its duty, forms a songbook for the pissed off, the heavy-lidded and the sultry. Each song pushes and pulls, claps a cymbal over the head in attempts at provocation: "I'm your punisher, right, I'm the punisher?" Jessica sings on ‘My Last Nerve', "I got nerve, I've got some nerve, don't I?" The production is simple too, homemade and satisfyingly mid-fi; it keeps the guitars rough, but relies on those big drums lapsing into silence to bring some crispness to the sound.

This far down the manhole, I was going to say something about the other press on this album: so many exclamations of "sexy!", the Guardian's "raunchy" and the closing statement on the press release that She Keeps Bees would "set your pants on fire." As if the world never heard a woman sing with some spit in her mouth before. I was going to say that it's about as sexy as that old Diet Coke commercial — the one with some jock builder in acid-wash jeans, drinking deep of the sacred soda while the businesswomen looked on all flustered-like. (Especially with "Gimmie" — come on! It's just Lenny Kravitz at half-speed!) But then I remembered this is a couple band, and the sheer act of making rock music presumably makes them want to throw each other down and etc every fifteen minutes. So granted: a little sexy. And more than a little promising.

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