I've finally found the first album of 2008 that truly excites me - We Brave Bee Stings and All by Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. So what if it came out January 29th, and finally made it onto my iPod on Wednesday. It's not that I didn't hear chatter about Thao, it's that the press I skimmed made her sound like a garden variety singer-songwriter (usually a category to be avoided like death itself). P4k's 7.7 didn't register. It took a KEXP live podcast to change my mind, and now a hard copy of the CD is on its way to me directly from Kill Rock Stars. For 90% of my tiny readership, you could buy just this one record this year and be happy.
What makes her so great? She makes music that's easy to listen to but it's in no way easy listening. She makes banjo sound fresh without imitating Sufjan. She sounds how Chan Marshall might sound if she ever actually rocked out a little. Plus there is the moment on "Bag of Hammers" when the song escalates and I have to crank the volume and sing along, "I am all in a ball in your front yard / and I have this bag of hammers."
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down - "Bag of Hammers"