She Keeps Bees - Eight Houses - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

She Keeps Bees - Eight Houses

by Jim Harris Rating:7.5 Release Date:2014-09-29

I just sigh when I hear of yet another Brooklyn-based duo. There has got to be at least a million or so alternative music duos coming out of that area. There must be some metaphysical musical axe splitting musicians and singers apart and then they multiply in the whole city of New York and vie for spots in the 600 or so coffee shops.

Owing to that, singer-guitarist Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlatt may have something here in their collaboration She Keeps Bees and their latest release, Eight Houses. No it isn’t particularly original sounding, as Jessica’s voice shares a serious affinity to Cat Power and mid-career PJ Harvey, Lorde, and a myriad other doe-eyed, beautiful young ladies who believe there is a future singing sultry and deep and bluesy (Even though the majority of them sound like they started their careers singing Patti Smith’s 'Because the Night' in a karaoke bar).

But Jessica Larrabee seems to bring a little bit more to the vocal table. While the music is decidedly minimalist for the most part, and the spacious plucking and ominous tones are cringe-worthy in their predictability at times, Jessica has a voice that seems on the verge of Grace Slick soaring through ‘White Rabbit’, as on the song, ‘Breezy’. (Feed your head, feed your head) 

In general, Eight Houses is at its best on songs like ‘Breezy’ and ‘Greasy Grass’ when the guitar powers up a bit and her voice ramps up beyond her modern day equivalents. Add the near mid-tempo pace and attitude of such songs as ‘Owl’ and ‘Raven’, and you have a fine, if not a bit uneven album.

My biggest problem is the production. Yes, Nicholas Vernhes is the Dirty Projectors/Spoon/Deerhunter dude, but Jesus Christ, can no one see what a few more instruments, and a little richer sound would bring to Ms Larrabee’s vocal range and song structures? As it is, too many of these two-people bands cultivate such a stridently minimal take, breaking into an already crowded genre - they really fucking sound like everybody else. Is that Cat Larrabee or Jessica Power singing? (Loosen up, girls! Go on tour with Frank Black or Tim Armstrong! For fuck's sake.)

Regardless, She Keeps Bees are better than most and Eight Houses is a notch above most of these bands, but still…

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