We Brave Bee Stings and All

We Brave Bee Stings and All

by Thao & the Get Down Stay DownThao & the Get Down Stay Down


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"As sharp as I sing, it still soothes you, doesn't it? Like a lick of ice cream?" sings Thao Nguyen on her Kill Rock Stars debut, We Brave Bee Stings and All. Whether it's intentional or not, the line describes her sound perfectly. Nguyen's rich, breathy voice -- and the way she croons, yelps, and drawls with it -- recalls Cat Power, Fiona Apple, and Sinéad O'Connor. However, these comparisons suggest that Thao is a searing, intense artist when nothing could be further from the truth: her country-tinged indie folk-pop is playfully observant, mischievous with just a hint of vulnerability. By playing against type and putting a voice that seems tailor-made for brooding into songs that are sunny and sweet, Nguyen carves out her own intriguing territory among indie folk songstresses. She shows just how much she's refined and expanded her music since her enjoyable debut, Like the Linen -- which was released only about a year and a half earlier than this album -- on We Brave Bee Stings and All's first two songs. "Beat (Health, Life and Fire)" builds brass, ukulele, and piano to an urgent but joyous peak, while "Bag of Hammers" is as rambling as it is catchy. The interplay between Nguyen and her band, the Get Down Stay Down, is more intuitive than ever, and the album's fuller sound (courtesy of producer Tucker Martine) complements her more fully formed songs. Nguyen's ear for details pops up throughout We Brave Bee Stings and All, especially on "Swimming Pools," which, like a firefly in a jar, nails what it's like to be a kid running around outside in the summertime. On "Fear and Convenience," she puts lyrics like "Did he hurt you in a new way?" to a cartwheeling melody. Moments like that and "Travel" -- which tries to be a sad song on the first verse, but cheers up by the chorus -- are few and far between on We Brave Bee Stings and All. In fact, most of the album is so cheery that it's a good thing Nguyen's voice isn't delicate, or her music might be sickly sweet instead of fresh and engaging. Fortunately, "Feet Asleep"'s Dixieland moxie and "Geography"'s jazzy flourishes help keep the album from sounding too predictable. Even if this isn't Thao's first album, We Brave Bee Stings and All is a fine introduction to her music.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/29/2008
Label: Kill Rock Stars
UPC: 0759656048125
catalogNumber: 60481
Rank: 176340

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down   Primary Artist,Banjo,Guitar,Piano,Vocals
Danny Barnes   Banjo
Wayne Horvitz   Hammond Organ,Hammond B3
Tucker Martine   Tambourine,Hand Clapping,finger cymbals,Foot Stomping
Karl Blau   Bass,Guitar,Bass Guitar,Saxophone,Vocals,Melodica
Frank Stewart   Organ,Guitar,Piano,Hand Clapping
Laura Veirs   Vocals
Steve Moore   Trombone,Hand Clapping,Wurlitzer
Willis Thompson   Percussion,Drums,Hand Clapping
Adam "The OK Bird" Thompson   Piano,Bass Guitar,Vocals,Hand Clapping
Ashley Erickson   Trumpet

Technical Credits

Tucker Martine   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Thao & the Get Down Stay Down   Composer

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