We Brave Bee Stings And All

by Thao with the Get Down Stay Down

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about

According to Thao Nguyen, she has two talents: her first is she has a knack for beat-boxing and humming at the same time and her second, and in her opinion finest, is that she had a capacity to watch so much TV as a kid, she’s convinced her personality is made up of several different sitcom characters. Of course Thao, the 23 year Virginia-bred songwriter, is forgetting her unique voice, natural sense for a good melody, and striking lyrics, skillful guitar plucking and her deadly dry sense of humor. Thao’s debut for Kill Rock Stars, showcases all these talents and more, proving she’s a star in the making.

With her perky strumming guitar, bluegrass tinged banjo, giddy sense of self and uninhibited vulnerability, Thao manages that rare combination of songs that sound happy but are, at times so sad. Whether using an acoustic guitar strummed with a toothbrush or a sharpie pen, or employing keyboards, horns and a full rhythm section with her band The Get Down Stay Down, her songs are always buoyant, littered with catchy riffs and lyrics gripped with intimate details juxtaposed with her cheeky humor. “My songs reflect my personality as far as shirking the seriousness of things” says Thao.

Thao first picked up a guitar aged 12 and began performing music in a pop country duo at high school. She began writing songs with a simple intention to accompany the television programs she loved. “I was really into Party Of Five. I remember Sarah McLachlan was playing in the background on one episode. From then on I kinda always wanted to be on the soundtrack!”.

In college, Thao recorded an EP and released a full length debut Like The Linen on a local Virginia label. After playing shows all over the US, she landed a spot on the Kill Rock Stars 2006 singer-songwriter compilation The Sound The Hare Heard. Soon after, she began recording in Seattle and Portland with Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Mudhoney). Taking a break to tour with Laura Veirs, who also guests on the song ‘Geography’ she spent most of 2007 recording the 11 diverse tracks that constitute We Brave Bee Stings And All, a subtly powerful album concerned with admissions of guilt, life revelations, failed domesticity and suburban ennui.

Thao’s songs cover a variety of musical styles as well as personal and social topics. From the musical versatility of her first single ‘Bag Of Hammers’, an emotional plea to the left and leaving backed by an upbeat melody, joyful horns and intricate guitar work, to the lyrically dark and cynical ‘Beat (Health, Life and Fire)’ and the socio-political slant on modern feminism on ‘Swimming Pools’.

Thao’s sly and mischievous sense of humor is all over this record, lightening the gravity of her words in the tradition of the very best songwriters, raising the mundane and ordinary to the extraordinary. Her music comes to life during her live performances, where Thao’s clever, self-depricating and charming personality shines, surpassed only by her guitar picking skills.

The Get Down Stay Down are: Adam ‘The O.K. Bird’ Thompson (Bass) and Willis Thompson (Drums)

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released 29 January 2008

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Kill Rock Stars Portland, Oregon

KRS's mission is to put out exceptional records by important artists.
At KRS we believe in doing it yourself, and we see our job as helping bands to realize their visions. In a culture that rewards making mediocre music with a quick buck, we feel lucky that we get to work with artists who challenge mediocrity on a regular basis. ... more

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Track Name: Beat (Health, Life And Fire)
Beat my brow, beat my chest
Beat the ones who love me the best
Oh how could they be liars
They insure me health, life and fire
Oh no
How can you stand it
When I run, when I run like a bandit
I wear him like a habit
In the lining of my jacket
And oh my
Gunpowder
In an emergency
I must battle without her she is surely killing me
So you’re never gonna leave
And I’m never gonna leave
But I’m proud to say
I’ve got us beat
I’m never gonna leave
And you’re never gonna leave
But you’re never gonna love me like I need
Track Name: Bag Of Hammers
I am all in a ball
In your front yard
I have this bag of hammers
And I won’t ask to come in
Cause I have sold everything
Still I have got some manners
And there’s a hole in your head
Spilled your thoughts on the floor
We wanted you bad
You wanted it more
The trick is
You do not get on that interstate bus
The catch is
You stay and see what becomes of us
Shake Shake Shake
Shake the frame of this house
Distress the wood make it shout
Oh, Oh
And as sharp as I sing
As sharp as I sting
It still soothes you doesn’t it
Like a lick of ice cream
Track Name: Big Kid Table
You are strong, strong, strong
Stronger than me
With a heart much more, much more lovely
And I reached high
High as I was able
Such a small kid
At the big kid table
And you followed me
Into the forest
Positioned and ready
Ready for a kiss.
But I never gave you nothing.
Not even to hold.
Or wear around your neck, or rest upon your collar bone
But I’ve got reasons; I have been excused
I want to reconvene; I want to tell the truth
It is not as though
I do not know it hurts me
It’s just I drink only that which makes me thirsty
We are after all
Locomotives
Cannot recall, reclaim, pretend we did not do it
Track Name: Swimming Pools
We are sore the length of our bodies
We restore water we cry
We are nothing if not your granddaughters
We have been nothing but dignified
We, we brave beestings and all
And we don’t dive, we cannonball
And we splash our eyes full of chemicals
Just so there’s none left for the little girls
Just so there’s none left for little girls
Roll, roll, roll up your denim
We’ve gotta pedal ten hours south
They pour it down from their balconies
You’ve gotta push all the doubt to the side of your mouth
Cause we, we brave beestings and all
And we don’t dive, we cannonball
And we splash our eyes full of chemicals
Just so there’s none left for the little girls
Just so there’s none left for little girls
Track Name: Geography
Oh geography is gonna make a mess of me
Oh geography is gonna make a mess of me
My, my mouth a confessional cannon
Run away from me with the most reckless of abandon
Are you unhappy for me
I am unhappy for you
All I can think to do
Get you, get you, get you good
But I don’t know
What I don’t know
Fire compels, fire consumes
You are a cheater you are fire proof
Fire proof
I am a smoky plume
I am up a ladder to your bedroom
But I don’t know
What I don’t know
My blood is thin with aspirin
I throw you in, I throw you in
Track Name: Fast Asleep
Talk soft so you fall asleep
Cooked you dinner but you would not eat
Your sharp mouth forgets when
You swore goddamn you wouldn’t do it again
And I bend back
With an eye full of mud
And I take it on the chin
And then I patch you up
All these years my feet asleep
Move them around that they might breathe
Oh so little time
I have gone old
This shop, this shop
And all it owns
Come back to see me
I know they have a rainy season
Come back to see me
I know they have a rainy season
You, you are mine
So I never would mind
I work my arms so hard
Just to give you an airplane ride
Track Name: Yes, So On And So On
Loved large enough
To want to shrink
Been dumb enough
To start to think
I might cut right back
On the heart attacks
And so on, so on, so on and on
So on, so on, so on and on
It was brave to play
It was an honor to lose
All the banners wave
All the fans salute
I am going away
But not away from you
I have found the difference between the two
So on
We want too much it’s a given
In the bones of the matter we live in
I want more than can be given
At the heart of the matter we live in
So on
Track Name: Fear And Convenience
I have seen fear and convenience.
I have never glimpsed romance.
All my riches in the company van
I drove much faster than they ran
Did he hurt you
In a new way
All our senses dry as cotton
Petrified hearts let ‘em go if you got ‘em
And all I can give: hot water from my shower
My legs on your bed so I do not think about her
Track Name: Violet
Oh no Violet don’t you go
Violet, Violet, don’t you go
I will keep my station wagon stationary
And I will learn to juggle all the things we carry
Must be hard on your bodyguards
When you charge at icicles
Eye-level to your heart
And you sing
Don’t they need any
Won’t they leave any
Won’t they
They won’t
I built a light tower for my town pillar
Low flying aircraft are gonna kill her
I laid these bricks
You want stones
You won’t be carried
You must be thrown
Oh no Violet
Track Name: Travel
Darlin did you hate
The way I made you travel
All pain and scrapes
Scrapes and safety hazards
We only only rolled so far
And then I rolled you from my zooming car
But I took
A million looks
How they ate me up
Made me heavy and for what
But you float, you float
How could you know
I never can tell
I never can show
Track Name: We Go
Let’s go home and eat sweet things
Throw our arms across our eyes
They are angry like motorcycles
Tuck your chin and ride
We are not so bad
We are not so
We are not so bad
When we go
We have burned our tongues
While we burned your ears
You are patient ones
We have worn you thin and clear
We will go
We will go