Mouthful of Bees: reviewed
mouthful of bees
1 Voodoo Doll
2 Damn Your Eyes
3 Prison of Love
4 Bad Influence
5 Walking Out
6 I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog
(The Way You Treated Me)
7 For the Love of a Woman
9 Palace of the King
10 Blue + Yellow
$20 includes p+p (anywhere in the known universe).
For sale at shows for only $10
Listen Up: Bees Deluxe solid on ‘Mouthful of Bees’
By Victor D. Infante. Telegram & Gazette Staff, Posted Dec 1, 2019 at 3:01 AM
With “Mouthful of Bees,” blues favorites Bees Deluxe have delivered a straight shot of good bourbon: an album that’s excellently played with enough of a rough edge to feel authentic. Mixing covers with original material, the album has a breezy feel, reveling in the blues in such a way that’s cathartic. The band — which comprises Carol Band on keyboards, harmonica and vocals; Ally Dorr on bass and vocals; Paul Giovine on percussion; and Conrad Warre on guitars and vocals — will perform at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Bull Run Restaurant, 215 Great Road, Shirley.
The album begins with the original song, “Voodoo Doll,” which sets the tone for most of the rest of the album, its slow steady bass thumping as guitar licks curl and spiral. Lyrics such as “she took a piece of my hair/and a soft ball of wax/she made a doll out of me/now I can hardly see” flow with rough-hewn vocals, both slightly shaky and yet extraordinarily evocative. The vocal effect is magnified on the Etta James-popularized “Damn Your Eyes,” where the slight hoarseness to the singing gives the song a sense of desperation. There’s a lot of heartbreak in this album, and it’s largely conveyed in the vocals, even as the band frames the song in slow-groove jazz.
What follows from there is a blues jam of songs that take the listener on a viscerally emotional journey, from Robben Ford’s “Prisoner of Love” to Robert Cray’s caustic “Bad Influence,” and then into the original song, “Walking Out.” The latter is a full-on barrelhouse blues rocker that rattles and shakes with high spirits, despite the sorrow baked into the song. The break-up sequence finishes with the sharp bites of the Bobby “Blue” Bland-popularized “I Wouldn’t Treat a Dog (The Way You Treated Me),” which brings home the narrative with devastating effect.
Then, the album takes a bit of a turn with the Don Nix-penned “For the Love of a Woman.” Whereas the rest of the album has been about the push and pull of a breakup and someone leaving, this one is about looking for someone, and despite the persona’s lack of success, it serves to brighten the tone. Likewise, the Al Perkins classic “Homework” almost glistens with young love — “What can I do/I’m walking ’round in circles/in love with you/the way you’ve got me/holding the door/I can’t do my homework anymore.” That the song is in the voice of someone who is clearly not a teenager is beside the point: Love can make anyone feel young and stupid, and when the honky-tonk groove of the Freddie King-penned “Palace of the King” rolls in, it’s easy to get caught up in the song’s giddiness.
The album ends on the lickety-split blues grind of the original instrumental, “Blue + Yellow,” leaving the listener on a nice, smooth note to exit. It’s a perfectly executed ending, one lit by a bright keyboard solo, an infectious backbeat and a guitar line which rolls into the horizon, taking the listener’s blues with it as it fades.
— Victor D. Infante, Worcester Magazine.
"The whole album is refreshing to hear as these folks obey few of the traditions most current blues bands adhere to. The blues “Fun Police” would simply not allow some of the abstractions Bees Deluxe throw in their music, I guess that’s what earns their title as an “acid blues” band. This is all blues, it’s just from a different perspective. I like it."
— Bob Monteleone, Big City Rhythm and Blues Magazine
"The album "Mouthful of Bees" by Boston-based acid-blues band Bees Deluxe really just confirms that we have stepped deep into the second decade of the 21st century. The Boston blues scene hasn't had anything like them for a long time. Namely, this band and this album are not intended for a wide audience. The question is really how much we are ready to repress our long-established preferences and habits, how much we are ready for new presentation forms. Personally, I have no problem with that, indeed!"
— Mladen Loncar, Sound Guardian Magazine.
Album credits: Carol Band: Keyboards, Harmonica & Vocals. Allyn Dorr: Bass & Vocals.
Paul Giovine: Drums & Percussion. Conrad Warre: Guitar & Vocals. Mastered by Joe Idzal.
Photography by Zoe Warre. Recorded & Mixed by Joe Egan. Produced by Egan & Warre.