You Got Good Picture: Thao Nguyen And Emotionally Intense

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I have to admit that part of the reason for this post is pretty simple - it's the picture - because it's just so damn purple.

And fun.

Thao Nguyen appeared on the national music scene as a 23-year-old Vietnamese-American from Virginia with a voice that exploded, whispered, lulled and beatboxed, and songs that hopped, skipped and danced, even as they explored domestic violence and feminism.

It was no surprise that after the 2008 release of We Brave Bee Stings and All with her band, the Get Down Stay Down (Willis Thompson and Adam Thompson), her catchy and deceptively dense songs were suddenly everywhere: on TV shows, in retail stores, on National Public Radio. Her unique musicianship and her thoughtful lyricism were obvious.

It's been almost two years since the release of We Brave Bee Stings and All, and their new record, Know Better Learn Faster (Kill Rock Stars), burns even more brightly. It is indeed better and faster: Nguyen's melodies arch higher; her songs step out into the sun and stretch, even as they explore a devastating breakup. Nguyen and her band worked again with We Brave Bee Stings producer Tucker Martine, who helped bring in an impressive roster of guest musicians, including Andrew Bird and Laura Veirs (who actually helped sign Nguyen to Kill Rock Stars), among others. As a result, Know Better Learn Faster is, like many of its Oregon-produced counterparts, not only a sparkling, artful album, but yet another example of the cohesion of a diverse talent pool.

At the center of it all, though, is Nguyen herself, who described Know Better Learn Faster as "a lot more emotionally intense."
Read the full article down at the Tucson Weekly.