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All Music Guide:
She Keeps Bees may be a bassless guitar-and-drums duo playing indie rock with blues and country inflections, but their sound is less indebted to White Stripes or Black Keys and more aligned with Cat Power or even Amy Winehouse. Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Jessica Larrabee has just the sort of smoky, rich voice and Dusty in Memphis phrasing to make those comparisons stick, even though she's much less of an R&B purist than either Chan Marshall or Winehouse. Larrabee, a native of Washington D.C., first gained notice as the leader of the English System, a Philadelphia based indie rock four-piece that formed in 2001 and released two albums, their self-titled debut and 2002's Banded Blue, before splitting. Moving from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, Larrabee dabbled in dance music, singing the diva-style lead vocals on Levon Vincent's 2005 house hit "The Thrill of Love" under the name Jessica Elle. At the same time, Larrabee started writing the songs that would become She Keeps Bees' debut album. Recording the album in her Brooklyn bedroom with just her computer and a microphone, Larrabee completed Minisink Hotel on her own, with the help of co-producer and engineer Andy LaPlant, who took on the role of Larrabee's drummer when She Keeps Bees made the transition into a performing band. Minisink Hotel, self-released in 2006, garnered favorable reviews and was followed in 2007 by the four-song EP Shhhh.
She Keeps Bees is a blues rock band from Brooklyn, New York, formed in 2006 and consisting of Jessica Larrabee on vocals and guitar and Andy LaPlant on drums. They have been compared to Patti Smith, the White Stripes, The Kills, PJ Harvey, and Cat Power.
Larrabee was recording an album as a solo artist under the name She Keeps Bees ("bees" coming from her surname) and met LaPlant when she was his bartender. It is known that her name came from an incident in which a bee stung her in the eye. He helped produce her music and began attending her shows, until she suggested he play with her. They formed their band in 2006. They record their music in their home in Brooklyn. Larrabee has also been a guest vocalist on Groove Armada's Grammy-nominated album Black Light. They have supported The Joy Formidable, and played at SXSW in 2010. They signed to Domino Publishing in July 2010. Their third album "Dig On", recorded during November 2010 in a log home in the Catskill Mountains, was released in July, 2011.
Jessica Larrabee is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has been in other bands. She taught her partner Andy LaPlant to play drums; he is a recording engineer and producer. Larrabee says of their playing that "I sing until my stomach hurts while Andy beats the shit out the drums." and has acknowledged comparisons to Cat Power.
The Guardian said that "they're like the White Stripes in reverse." Drowned in Sound said of Larrabee that "she has amazing control over her vocals, able to simultaneously be fiery and reserved, seductive and vaguely crude", and fellow Brooklyn musician Sharon Van Etten said "she has one of the best voices I have ever heard and she has more soul in one finger than most female singers have in our scene." The New York Times's ArtsBeat compared her to PJ Harvey, but added that "far from Ms. Harvey’s theatrical poise, Ms. Larrabee is loose, vehement and unchoreographed, jittering around the stage." The Quietus said of "Nests" that "the album does its duty, forms a songbook for the pissed off, the heavy-lidded and the sultry." The Observer said it was "sparse, soulful and defiantly retro." Contact Music argued that "in some parts the album isn’t an easy listen but once you’re in to it, it’s very rewarding."