In a day and age in which music can be created with nothing but a laptop, it’s reassuring that some bands haven’t forgotten how to rock the old-fashioned way. Together, guitarist/singer Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlant are She Keeps Bees, a down-and-dirty rock duo with more bite than most current acts.
For Dig On, Larrabee and LaPlant pulled a Bon Iver and retreated to a log cabin in the Catskills to write and record. The band has always kept things simple, and that’s a huge key to their appeal. The percussion remains straightforward and primal, the guitar distorted and free of pretense. The brunt of the texture comes from Larrabee’s voice, which is as hard-edged and expressive as they come, whether she’s softly whispering or crying out. Few other bands are able to mine this much depth from such minimal instrumentation.
It’s clear that the band is giving it their all on each and every cut of Dig On. The violent guitar strumming of Found You Out accentuates the rises and plummeting dips in Larrabee’s singing, and the rhythmic, forceful drumming on See Me pounds home the feeling of anguish, as she hollers a lyrical reminder of I’m still your daughter to an errant parent.
The band is at their most stunning when they strip their already-spare sound down even further. On album closer Burn, the guitar is almost dropped entirely, leaving just light, pointed drumming to share center stage with Larrabee’s individual voice. Forced to a near a capella, she’s able to carry the weight of the songs with consummate passion, and the results are spine-chilling. By the time All or None/Dark Horse breaks into a final, fiery drum solo, we’re as primed for that release as they are.
Essential Tracks: Found You Out, See Me, and All or None/Dark Horse