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Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies CD (album) cover


Bent Knee


Crossover Prog

4.19 | 218 ratings

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Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer
5 stars BENT KNEE out of Boston were formed in 2009 at the Berklee College Of Music. This is their second studio album and this five piece band has 13 guests helping out on a variety of horns and strings. While the singer Courtney Swain is certainly the focus this band is simply "lights out" when it comes to the instrumental work. I've never heard anything like this to be honest, it's one moment melodic and almost poppy then it turns very powerful and intense in an experimental manner the next moment. Some call it Avant Pop or Experimental Pop but that's far from the whole story here. Talk about dynamic, innovative and adventerous! And the lyrics are extremely meaningful and so well done. Back to Courney's vocals, what can I say? She has suddenly become my favourite female vocalist. The absolute sheer power that comes out of her mouth is incredible, but she's doing gymnastics when it comes to vocals, seemingly to be able to sing in any style with perfection.

Up first is "Shiny Eyed Babies" a short piano/ vocal track where she sings about having a baby out of wed-lock and kissing her baby hello while kissing her now ex goodbye and singing about the judgement directed at her. "Way Too Long" is maybe my favourite. A heavy duty intro as passionate vocals come in. "I've has a secret for way too long" is a line she sings and man she can sing. Check out the vocal melody 3 minutes in! Oh my! The instrumental work that joins in kicks some serious ass. I'm laughing out loud at this point in disbelief. The final 30 seconds are spacey.

"Dry" opens in such a cool way instrumentally as reserved vocals join in. Soon she's bringing it hard vocally including those amazing vocal melodies that warble here. The horns before 4 minutes are adventerous then it kicks back in. Some nice violin in this one too. Check out the killer instrumental work late, it's quite experimental. "In God We Trust" opens with picked violin as vocals join in. As it picks up i'm feeling emotion as it starts to groove. Backing vocals here as well. It settles back and again i'm moved. It's building as she repeats certain lines over and over. Great track! "I'm Still Here" opens with a spacey organ-like sound as laid back vocals and a lot of atmosphere join in. Vocals and keyboards 2 minutes in then it becomes fuller. A moving section a minute later with piano, vocals and violin standing out. It's building late as she sings "I'm still here" over and over.

"Dead Horse" has pulsating piano to open as vocals join in and electronics come and go. It settles into a fuller sound before 2 minutes with some excellent violin. I love the spacey calm later after 4 minutes reminding me of Klause Schulze. "Battle Creek" has such a unique soundscape early on with the synths, keyboards, picked violin and spacey vocals. She starts to sing with passion and the instrumental work follows suit. So good! We get a powerful instrumental section 3 minutes in followed by a calm with violin melodies. Gorgeous. The violin adds emotion after 4 minutes as vocal melodies continue then she's singing again late. "Untitled" is a short vocal/ piano piece with lyrics like "Please won't you just raise your voice, I need to know i'm worth an ounce of pain". "Sunshine" is a cover of that old song and it seems fairly normal until she sings in a disturbing way after 3 1/2 minutes and my hair is standing up 5 minutes in as she sings in anger.

"Democratic Chorale" is a short piece with sampled spoken words in the background as the piano plays in a laid back manner. "Skin" has slicing violin as the drums kick in with power and vocals follow. The drums are out in front here. Catchy stuff as the focus becomes the vocals 1 1/2 minutes in. Themes are repeated. It becomes instrumental with honking horns and more and then it turns dark and creepy. Man this is good. Piano only follows before 5 minutes to the end.

"Being Human" is the song that got me into this band, as someone posted a video of them doing it live and it blew me away. It's so pleasant and beautiful early on and this will be contrasted with powerful instrumental jazzy sections. Punchy sounds come and go before 3 minutes as vocal melodies join in. Check out the heaviness before 4 minutes! A spacey calm ends it. Incredible! "Toothsmile" ends the album and synths and vocals lead the way early on. Violin 2 minutes in. A calm then a powerful sound 4 minutes in. It then starts to slow down like a train late but it's still powerful. Love the way it ends.

Man this will be near the top of my fav albums for 2014 for sure. You have to hear this band!

Mellotron Storm | 5/5 |


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