mon 23/11/2020

New Band: She Keeps Bees | reviews, news & interviews

New Band: She Keeps Bees

New Band: She Keeps Bees

Brooklyn boy/girl band show the guitar/drums combo is not dead

The White Stripes may have just announced their retirement but theartsdesk can report that the boy/girl two piece is still alive and well in the form of She Keeps Bees, a Brooklyn-based band currently on a mini-tour around Britain and Europe. Here it’s the girl, Jess Larrabee on guitar, and boy, Andy LaPlant on drums. The sound is superficially similar to The White Stripes with Larrabee delivering gutsy blues rock guitar, but vocally she sounds more like PJ Harvey stranded in Tennessee during a full moon. The soon-to-be-released sophomore album, Dig On, was self-recorded in a log cabin in upstate New York, and during a sound check for their warm-up gig at The Windmill, Brixton, the pair told theartsdesk how they came to record it.

Their story began in 2006 when they met in a bar in Brooklyn. Jess was the barmaid and a songwriter-cum-drummer, Andy, a guitar player-cum-producer. After becoming romantically involved with each other, Jess started teaching Andy the drums in return for him helping her with her guitar. And thus was born She Keeps Bees who soon became a hit with the hip in the fashionable venues of Brooklyn.

Not that there’s anything aloof about the pair. LaPlant is a charming country boy with winning manners and Larrabee comes over all kooky, forever talking about “the cosmos”. The band’s name, she says, comes partly from her surname, but also adds that bees are precious to her as, “without them we would have nothing, they are the invisible fabric that keeps things alive”.

The current tour mixes new songs with old, offering a refinement to the stripped-down elemental sound that the pair created with 2009’s Nests. “With the new album we tried to get inside an emotional and peaceful place that completely allows you to be the person your heart intends you to be,” says Larabee. What this actually is is a highly sexually charged raw sound that takes in a smorgasbord of influences and yet doesn’t sound particularly like any of them. Larrabee names heroes that range from Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana to Chaka Khan, whilst LaPlant adds that they “listen to a lot of bands, but never try to copy them. The sound just comes out the way it does”.

And the way it comes out seems to connect with the crowds on a very primal level, with the duo’s stage personas unlocking an animal side to them. This is the second time the band have been over to Britain and on the last tour word of mouth has led to venues being sold out. theartsdesk recommends catching them now, or if not, at festivals later in the year.

Watch She Keeps Bees perform "Gimmie" below


I always feel like I must have gotten lazy when the first review I read of a band makes the exact same comparisons I've made. Not sure where I stand on the "animal" - a return to a primeval sitting-around-the-campfire call for rhythm, perhaps, but nothing on the level of something evoked by say Austin Lucas at the Windmill last year. But then British crowds are difficult to drag into that sort of thing; they prefer being performed AT rather than taking part except in rare cases. But, thanks for sharing the piece (it's in no way terrible).

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