I had the pleasure of seeing the Sacramento-based project Sea Of Bees play twice this holiday season (thanks Santa). Once backed by a drummer and lead guitarist, and once solo, standing at a microphone in the middle of a holiday happy hour party filled with revelers drunk on highly alcoholic beer. Both times, I was immediately struck by the voice of Jules Baenziger, the brains and brawn behind Sea Of Bees.
To say that we, as a people, are finally able to loosen the funk up when it comes to accepting alternative paths to aural enjoyment in this day and age is an understatement. In the past five years the term “freak-folk” has become playground talk, Grizzly Bear play stadiums, and Joanna Newsom’s music is used to market push-up bras and cellular telephones. And Sea Of Bees is no exception.
There is an edge to Baenziger’s voice, something out of the ordinary and uncomfortable that grabs your attention, and if ever there were a time to push that edginess — now is it. But Baenziger isn’t just another wacky voice. Her songwriting evens out the peaks and valleys that her vocals carve into the air. Simplistic, heart-felt melodies backed by beautifully structured harmonies, purposeful guitar and a straightforward backbeat, Baenziger takes no prisoners. Even without the backing band, and facing a room of unruly drunks, Baenziger’s performance was at once commanding and endearing.
Sea Of Bees is about to embark upon a 3 month European tour in support of her latest album Songs For The Ravens, recorded at Sacramento’s best-kept secret, The Hangar, run by indie producer and Tape Op Magazine publisher John Baccigaluppi. Vetiver’s Andy Cabic and Grandaddy’s James Neil sat in on some of the tracks, and the album is great. But if you can catch See Of Bees live, I would do it soon while Baenziger is still playing smaller rooms. Someone this talented and captivating will be marketing push-up bras faster than you can say Newsom — musically speaking that is. Baenziger’s albums are available through iTunes and her label Crossbill Records.