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Bandshes "Demo (Rough)" Reviewed

Bandshes “Demo Rough”

Helen Bach tells of providing two cakes at her daughter Mary’s Halloween party when 18 year old singer songwriter of the Bandshes Zoe Cassandra asked why that was necessary. “One Vegan, one non Vegan” Helen explained.

“You shouldn’t have gotten the non-Vegan”  Zoe replied.

Listening to the earnest side of Bandshes, it is not exactly a surprise that the piano based trio would be over earnest, it comes with the territory But the songs aren’t standard fare “This world is too caught up in its own dirty business”, Zoe sings while Athena plays single notes on “Storyteller”, a sort of “Hey Hey We’re The Monkees” for the broke generation: the Internet hurtles information of a sort at young people who swift through it, perhaps I mean, who are sifted through it, it loses meaning. Zoe’s point, that, not unlike the Vegan cake, truths are eternal and art is a better way to get to the root even if Zoe is busy bending the truth for arts sake.

Not your standard boy meets girl or whatever variant, the song has a jaunty jazzy feel to it, a welcome to lay down your weary tunes and sway your body. It is from “Demo (Rough)” released on Bandcamp , a four song, ten minute EP  compilation of “five hours, thai food, 1940s style one-shot takes, and teen angst.”  With Emily adding harmonies, the trio go for a deeper tug than teen angst, though who wouldn’t settle teen angst anyway? “My Body” is like a folk spiritual with a touch of the Roches if Robert Fripp hadn’t produced them.

The EP splits in two, “Weary” and “Storyteller” are on the upbeat, “Weary” equating  being alone and freedom and “Storyteller” a deus ex machina of sorts. “This Body” and “Show Me The Moon” downbeat and disquieting. “Show Me The Moon” is a s close as Bandshes get to average and even the lonely heartbreaker is saved from generic by a well arranged harmony. Timid or untamed, Zoe might want to return to the chorus and give it a rewrite.

But that’s about as far as I’l go in the complaints… no wait, an instrumental break  might add feel at the cost of tightness, though I can see why a rough demo with just piano might not actually lend itself to one, the pianist underplays and a change of volume would be, well, arresting I guess. In this day and age you give up precision for impact.

The cover picture is of Zoe’s kid sister playing the drums and it is worth keeping in mind this is not a professional outfit. All three young women are in college Juniors. But the singing is lovely and professional, the harmonies (maybe the best part of the EP) are layered and inviting and the piano playing protean and on top of the game. The songwriting first rate.

Bandshes sound like Fiona Apple without the breakdowns meets Daughter without the hipster tag, while managing one of the great tricks of our time, being solipsistic and universal at the same time.  Two cakes if you will, at least lyrically.

Grade: B+

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