We’ve gotta pedal to an hour south

We’re putting off our celebration of Malta music for another week because we have too many fun things we feel like talking about this week.  And we’ll talk about whatever we feel like we wanna talk about, Napoleon!

Because Eric’s St. Vincent post is both very relevant and very good, I hesitate to post tonight…however, instead of the Okkervil River review I had originally planned, I am going to review these lovely folks, who seem to fit a bit better with St. Vincent.  This way, if you have been listening to St. Vincent obsessively (and I know some people who have, although I am unfortunately not one of them), you can switch over to do a little Thao listening and it will flow beautifully, or at least pretty decently.

I loved Thao with The Get Down Stay Down at first listen (–“Bag of Hammers”–thanks for the mix, Liz!), and when I learned that Thao grew up in Falls Church, Willis attended William & Mary, and they both met Adam in Richmond, I pretty much peed my pants.  Thank you, Virginia, for doing something right in the music world.  I love you.

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down put out their third album We Brave Bee Stings and All about a year ago (I never aim to be on time with these reviews, fyi) and it is quite possibly the most simultaneously creative and accessible album I have heard in a very long time.  I’m not sure what contributes the most to this–Thao’s breathy, boyish vocals, the quirky lyrics, the not-so-random percussion shakes and punches, or the folky guitar twangs (is that a word?)–but it all works together to create a sound that will lure you in from first listen and first head sway.

My favorite song on this album is “Geography,” which has a fantastic groove (and that is not a word I use lightly, thank you very much) and hints at swing with its piano line.  You’ll find a similar swing on “Swimming Pools,” which is sort of the title song of the album, and on “We Go.”  If you’re a fan of Vampire Weekend or The Ruby Suns, you might dig the world-ish feel of “Beat (Health, Life and Fire),” “Fear and Convenience,” and “Travel.”  On “Feet Asleep,” you’ll be ringing up the Rockettes so you don’t have to kick your feet by yourself.  What’s great, though, is that while to call these songs swing, world music, or what the hell do the Rockettes do anyway? would be ridiculous and let’s be honest, not seductive at all,  Thao and the blah blah long band name flavors their own style with these genres, giving you comfort in the familiar and ecstasy in the freshness.

Plus, lyrically, these guys are genius.  They come up with new ways to say old things, which is something we value greatly in our art but can rarely produce ourselves.

Basically, We Brave Bee Stings and All shows us another one of those marks of a great album…you know you’ve got an especially good album in your hands, your ears, your heart, and your soul when you don’t have to fiddle around with your iPod in the car trying to skip a song.  It’s just all so good!

We brave bee stings and all
We don’t dive, we cannonball
And we splash our eyes full of chemicals just so there’s none left for little girls!

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