The raw, stripped-down simplicity of the duo She Keeps Bees confirms the notion that big things can come in small packages. Relying on little more than drums, gritty minor-chord guitar, and the sultry-to-warbling vocals of Jessica Larrabee, She Keeps Bees is brooding, dark, mysterious, and perfectly chaotic. Shifting from quiet, hushed passages to thrashing outbursts, Larrabee's guitar-playing is full of churning emotion, a perfect foil to her lush vocals and introspective lyrics. Behind her, Andy LaPlant adds the perfect percussive touch, opting for a minimalist approach that allows Larrabee her release. "I think the intensity comes from the fact that we whittle it down so much. We're trying to make something as meaningful as we could, so there's not a lot of fluff," LaPlant says from New York. The band's latest, Eight Houses, shows a heavier side of the band, with louder guitars and vocals and equal emphasis on the drums. Sharon Van Etten adds accompanying vocals on two tracks, while occasional saxophone or synths filter through for added depth. "There's some stuff on there that's a lot different than what we've done in the past," he adds, "but I don't think it's so farfetched that it will turn anyone off." - Glenn BurnSilver
By anyone's definition, Jared Leto is having a great year thus far. There's that whole Oscar thing, not to mention the fact that the actor/director/musician and the rest of 30 Seconds to Mars have been rocking arenas across America along with Linkin Park and AFI.
The three alt-rock heavy hitters are in the midst of a 25-city nationwide late-summer/early-fall road swing dubbed the "Carnivores Tour" (which is a tad ironic, considering both Leto and Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington are both vegetarians) that will hit US Airways Center on September 10. As the English sex kitten narrator states in the YouTube trailer above, it's the first time that all three bands have hit the road together.
And according to concert reports from the tour's previous stops in cities like Miami, Minneapolis, and Denver, all three bands are blowing out arenas with "one helluva show." To wit: A reviewer at out sister publication City Pages in the Twin Cities stated that Leto is "[charming] with his near-flawless vocals" while Linkin Park is performing "like a well-oiled machine." -- Benjamin Leatherman
With an imperial lineage stretching back to the 13th-century founder of the Mali Empire, Salif Keita wasn't supposed to pursue a career in music -- it wasn't considered proper. But he did, and became Afropop royalty. A composer and masterful singer dubbed the Golden Voice of Africa, Keita launched his career with two iconic Malian groups, the Rail Band, whose repertoire was based on traditional Mandinka music, and Les Ambassadeurs, which factored in international pop. As a solo artist, Keita sometimes incorporated major doses of western pop, rock, R&B, and electronics. But his current tour is tagged acoustic (although it isn't exclusively), revisiting classic Keita material with a lean ensemble that emphasizes trad instruments, leaving plenty of room for his fluid, impassioned, sublimely ornamented vocals. -- Rick Mason
Imagine wild organ swirls, rolling surf licks and jazzy party horns coupled with angular and decidedly eastern melodies, plus a sultry singer who shifts between English and her native Cambodian dialect. That's just a fraction of what shapes Dengue Fever's original sound. The band discovered it's calling in Cambodia's 1960s psychedelic Khmer rock, unearthed by band founder and keyboardist Ethan Holtzman on a trip to Southeast Asia. The music also resonated with Holtzman's guitar-playing brother Zac.
The pair formed a band featuring drummer Paul Smith, brass player David Ralicke and bassist Senon Gaius Williams to recreate this exotic sound. Musically assured, the brothers combed Long Beach, California's Cambodian nightclubs for a singer to authenticate the band's sound. Discovering Chhom Nimol, who they later discovered had sung for the king and queen of Cambodia, she needed only to be convinced to join them. She was skeptical, but ultimately a bond was formed. "And when she started singing it was like, 'Oh, there it is,'" Smith says. "It sounded right. We all got chills. The music came alive and we knew we got the answer we were looking for." -- Glenn BurnSilver