Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Multiple Lives of Beekeepers

Beekeepers, the new release by My Molly, finally found its way into my dash on Tuesday, and it did not leave all week, not until today when I took it inside to load onto my iPod. As a matter of fact its layers are surrounding me as I write this. By Wednesday I knew I needed to write about this CD, to do my part to spread the word because it is too good to be ignored, to sit on some sagging shelf filled with CDs of hungry artists seeking validation, to be ignored by a scene that is often so busy convincing itself how open-minded and awesome it is that it fails to realize that it is actually very cliquish and exclusive. But what is on this plastic spinning miracle defies clique maintenance, bridges borders, crosses gaps, and brings worlds together. Still I was struggling with what words to use. With all the adjectives floating from Broca’s Area to Frontal Lobe I chose two to focus on: Epic and Multiple Lives.

feels like an epic, and by epic I am not referring to Barney Stinson, rather Beowulf. In great epics themes had numeric patterns, often religious numbers 3, 4, 7, etc. Whether intentional or not, Beekeepers has these patters. In “Bad Things” they place the listener in the woods, dark woods, frightening woods, the woods that made us tremble when we were children.

These trees are alive and smiling their teeth that are made of bark are sharp. Our feet are black and blistered from running through these dark woods.

Instantly I am trust into memories of me too deep into an exploration, lost, confused, crying, and praying God would get me home. Then during “Witches” (6 songs later or 3 songs and 3 songs) they bring us back to the woods accept this time they validate our fears.

I was racing late at night through Salem’s autumn woods.

But they don’t want to hurt us; they want to love us, so three songs later in “Circuit Sunsets” they paint the woods in a different light:

I kept an eye on animals passing through long waving grass in a motion much like dance. I threw my shoes on a telephone line where laces intertwined by a dark wood soft romance.

Now my mind finds me in the same woods where first kisses happened beneath conifers as sunlight fought leaves and needles to find young bodies exploring touch and taste. Three times the woods are mentioned each time separated by values of three. Again, this could all be coincidence, but intentional or not the varying patterns make Beekeepers interesting, help give it multiple lives.

A CD having multiple-lives is as much about production as it is about the songwriting. Some serious credit needs to be given to Brian Sowinski. As I stated earlier I have listened to this CD all week. Each time I hear something new. That is the sign of a good recording to me. It wasn’t until listen #3 when I realized there was mandolin on “Knitting with Penelope.” It had perfect placement in the mix where my ears heard it as part of the composition, but it wasn’t begging for attention like a jealous little child wanting to play airplane. Situationally it also takes on different forms. When the I was driving with the top down the vocals and rhythm were perfectly balance so I could hear them above the wind whipping about. When the rains came and I had to put the top up, I could hear the truly focused instrumentation and layers. Even today listening to it for the first time with a sub I am pleasantly surprised with the thickness of the bass lines. They have excellent tone and enough movement to contribute without distracting.

By now I am sure you think I have lost all objectivity, that because my history with My Molly and my previous declarations of admiration and adoration I am not hearing the faults with the CD, and you would be wrong. There are a couple sour notes, an instance or two when I may have blown out the tracks to ensure everyone was hitting the one after a break. There was one spot where I would have picked a different instrument to lead in from a break, but then I asked myself would any of that make the CD better? Absolutely not. It is just some picky bullshit that ears that have been doing this for almost half their lives hear, and while it may improve that tiny moment it would not improve the CD.

Having grown up with vinyl I certainly appreciate the hipster trend to drop recordings on LPs, but what I have always loved about CDs is they allow you to experience the creation in its entirety without interruption to flip the record or tape. There is no longer a differentiation between A side and the dreaded B side where tracks go to die, now everything must be good. Rather than dropping 6 great songs upfront and then letting the CD disintegrate into dribble, Beekeepers is a slow build with recurring themes that climaxes on the second to last song then gently holds you for one final track, letting you know you are not alone. I encourage all that buy this CD to give yourself an hour to hear it from first act through finale, and I encourage you all to buy it.

That being said, we all have favorites and for different reasons I have two. With the blessings of Morning Bird Records and My Molly, I have been given permission to share those two with you. “Fission and Fusion” is the most vulnerable song on Beekeepers from the first line they expose their hearts, allow us to see through the stories, the adventures, to really feel what they are feeling without metaphor cloaking their intent.

Well I warned you I told you so, that you could leave it up to me to make an unresolvable mess out of everything. The sun and moon were in your eyes, and now that you’re gone I’ll sleep alone tonight.

Fission And Fusion by My Molly

There was some mild debate going on between me and the head of Morning Bird Records, Abi Robins. I was cemented to “Fission and Fusion” as the best song, and she tied herself to “Tie Me to the Mast” for her pick. While I am always going to pick raw emotion, I cannot deny that the sweeping harmonies in “Tie Me to the Mast” are without a doubt my favorite musical moment on Beekeepers. For that reason it gets a shared spot for favorite track on the CD.

Tie Me To The Mast by My Molly

I hope you enjoyed the songs and seriously encourage you to purchase this CD and see My Molly whenever you get a chance.

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