She Keeps Bees – Nests out now!

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Out Now!!

What they say:

Line of Best Fit
Inevitably, all boy/girl, guitar/drums duos are compared to the ever present White Stripes. This includes the Brooklyn based newcomers She Keeps Bees. It’s a shame, as such bands should have an identity of their own, and not get immediately, and forevermore, categorised as a “bit like the White Stripes”. In the case of She Keeps Bees such comparisons are only valid to a skin deep level. Like The White Stripes, She Keeps Bees play stripped down blues-rock. But the comparisons should end there; they have none of the energy and raw power of the White Stripes, and have no need of it. She Keeps bees simply made up of the simple, but not forceful (like that of Meg White) percussion of Andy LaPlant, and the gloriously rich, and sexy vocals, and simple guitar playing of Jessica Larrabe. The Guitar playing when used is rarely anything more than basic chords, and in some songs such as the effective opening track Ribbon does not appear at all.

She Keeps Bees are therefore so stripped down, that without the vocals of Jessica Larrabe, there wouldn’t be that much merit present in their music at all. Nests barely stretches out of a fairly basic blues-rock template, but because of the wonderfully soulful voice of Larrabe this is fine, more than fine in fact, excellent. Nests is raw and powerful without having to resort to simply being energetic, and is most of all incredibly sexy. Larrabe’s voice ensures this, creating the kind of blues bar atmosphere, which makes you feel as if she’s in the room with you, transferring all of the emotion in her voice right into you. This sort of atmosphere around the record is helped by the raw, intimate and sparse sound of the album. It’s lazy music, the aforementioned lack of energy means that the deep guitar chords, mellow voice and slow tempo do nothing but lull you into a beautifully relaxed, contemplative state. Exactly how good blues-rock should be.

Nests, unfortunately, could be a lot longer. At only 26 minuets it’s hard to describe it as a great record, as when you’ve really got into it, and been enveloped by it’s atmosphere it’s finished. What there is of Nests is, however, very, very good. There’s enough brilliant tracks to mark this out as a very accomplished, and exciting album.

The Observer
This stripped-down blues-rock duo are an anomaly in their adopted home of Brooklyn. While most of their neighbours are painting alt-pop into kaleidoscopic new colours, this compelling debut cleaves to a version of rock that is sparse, soulful and defiantly retro. White Stripes comparisons are inevitable, not least because of the thrillingly primal way Andy LaPlant thumps the drums, but it is raw emotion akin to Cat Power that comes through most strongly on tracks such as “Release” and the startling “Bones Are Tired”, on which Jessica Larrabee’s unadorned voice is at its most desolate.

The Guardian
Brooklyn has been such a hotbed of arty, left-field rock in recent times that it’s something of a surprise to come across a band from that borough dealing in rather more traditional tropes. She Keeps Bees consists of singer/guitarist Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlant, who plough a sultry, dirty-blues furrow not unlike certain other boy-girl duos of our age – although their restrained, sensual songs are neither as extrovert or idiosyncratic as the White Stripes nor as flat-out dull as the Kills. Larrabee’s voice, pitched somewhere between PJ Harvey and Karen O, is terrific: at once sullen and suggestive, and possessed of just enough melodic playfulness to prevent the music – pared back to the barest strums and clatters throughout – from sounding slight. Their peers up the block may have them beaten in the forward-thinking stakes, but as an old-style rock’n’roll honeytrap, She Keeps Bees are hard to resist.

Drowned In Sound
She Keeps Bees. She Keeps Bees. She Keeps Bees. She. Keeps. Bees? Putting their name aside (and perhaps their name is to blame on their location: Brooklyn) She Keeps Bees are one of the keepers (pun intended) from the BK bunch. Having formed in 2006, She of the Bee-keeping would be (on voice and guitar) Jessica Larribee, with her friend/producer/boyfriend Andy LaPlant on drums. The band themselves liken themselves to a bit of Howlin’ Wolf, PJ Harvey and Millie Johnson, but the very nature of SKB (a boy/girl duo) will automatically cast people’s minds to the hallowed White Stripes and the early Kills. You can hear the connection in the sparse, dirty tunes that are more than subconsciously driven by the energy and the tension between Jessica and Andy (or Jamie/Allison, Jack/Meg). They barely emerged from the bedroom long enough to release their first mini-LP, 2006’s Minisink Hotel (available as a bonus disk with the Rough Trade edition), which was actually recorded in a bedroom. Their four-track EP released earlier in the year, Revival, set the stall for their raw, DIY ethos and Nests continues their foray into sinister, powerfully raw blues rock.

At just under 27 minutes, Nests is nothing if not straight to the point. Its most obvious strongpoint is Jessica’s voice. She has amazing control over her vocals, able to simultaneously be fiery and reserved, seductive and vaguely crude – her voice is what breathlessly invites you into their dingy world. She ably plays a lot of similar vocal roles, different enough but all vaguely connected, from the punishing Fiona-Apple-esque siren on ‘My Last Nerve’ to the faux-romantic, drizzly-sweet on the outside, bitter on the inside ballad of a woman scorned on ‘Get Gone’, right through to the sparse, gospel ringleader of ‘Bones are Tired’. She plays ‘em all with ease befitting someone with rather more than an album and a bit to their name.

‘Focus’ begins with a brooding riff that we’ve all heard before, but if it doesn’t command your attention, well, I can’t help you because I fell for this foreboding jam hook, line, and sinker. ‘Gimme’ is the most blatantly sexual song on the album, Jessica at her fiercest, sultry and intriguing as she growls, “Gimme gimme gimme gimme / Give it to me daddy”. Annoying as some couple-bands can be, She Keeps Bees play it fairly cool – letting their chemistry and the inherent intimacy speak through the songs. ‘Wear Red’ is the most old time-y jam, kind of a campfire song – little bit psychy, lot of blues. It would be good for any kind of camping trip, complete with whiskey, to some Joshua Tree-style psychedelic desert. ‘Ribbon’ is as simple as it gets on this album, but the no frills approach mixed with the gospel-garage vocals is gold. It’s the perfect summation of She Keeps Bees: intricate without being unclear, stark without being uninteresting, and ultimately, a band to keep around.
8 / 10

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