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BENT KNEE

Crossover Prog • United States


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Bent Knee picture
Bent Knee biography
Formed in 2009 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

The band was formed at Boston's Berklee College of Music by Courtney SWAIN (Vocals), Ben LEVIN (Guitar) and Vince WELCH (Production and Sound Design) out of a love of the epic and grand and has influences of Psych, Baroque Pop and Avant-Jazz.

Their eponymous debut CD was released in 2011 and is mostly a study of Courtney SWAIN's sultry voice, which sounds like an angry Shirley Manson (GARBAGE), fighting for attention from Ben LEVIN's occasionally crunchy and frequently sporadic guitar.

Their second album, 'Shiny Eyed Babies', released in 2014 was more of a full band effort with the addition of, Chris BAUM (Violin), Jessica KION (Bass) and Gavin WALLACE-AILSWORTH (Drums) and has a more diverse feel to it with jazzier moments, alternating with the starker sound of the first album.

Fans of Tori AMOS may enjoy BENT KNEE as would fans of distinctive female driven, stark music.

Biography provided by Roland113

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BENT KNEE Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy BENT KNEE Music


You Know What They MeanYou Know What They Mean
RCA Records 2019
$20.56
$26.89 (used)
Say SoSay So
CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017
$11.62
$6.57 (used)
You Know What They MeanYou Know What They Mean
RCA Records 2019
$19.85
$55.78 (used)
Shiny Eyed BabiesShiny Eyed Babies
CD Baby 2014
$12.41
Land AnimalLand Animal
Century Media 2017
$19.44 (used)
Bent KneeBent Knee
Bent Knee
$16.99
Shiny Eyed Babies (2 LP Black & White Swirl Limited Edition)Shiny Eyed Babies (2 LP Black & White Swirl Limited Edition)
Bent Knee
$49.99
Hawaiian ChantHawaiian Chant
Jvc 2013
$20.64
$21.10 (used)

More places to buy BENT KNEE music online Buy BENT KNEE & Prog Rock Digital Music online:

BENT KNEE discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

BENT KNEE top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.74 | 27 ratings
Bent Knee
2011
4.15 | 186 ratings
Shiny Eyed Babies
2014
3.91 | 160 ratings
Say So
2016
3.80 | 89 ratings
Land Animal
2017
3.99 | 101 ratings
You Know What They Mean
2019

BENT KNEE Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.80 | 5 ratings
Live and Nearly Unplugged
2014

BENT KNEE Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

BENT KNEE Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

BENT KNEE Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

4.83 | 6 ratings
Catch Light
2019

BENT KNEE Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 You Know What They Mean by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.99 | 101 ratings

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You Know What They Mean
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars The avant prog Berklee grads are back with their first really refreshingly new and idiosyncratic album since 2014's masterpiece, Shiny Eyed Babies. And what a welcomed sound it is!

1. "Lansing" (1:22) a weird mic outtake from some concert on one of their tours. Not sure why or what it means.

2. "Bone Rage" (4:13) despite the roiling opening, this one kicks in like an early RUSH song--but it's trumped by Courtney's vocal and some of the other unexpected shifts in directions that the band and the music takes. (8.5/10)

3. "Give Us the Gold" (3:51) near-disco electro-pulse opens the song before a heavily effected guitar strum opens the door for Courtney's vocal performance to enter. For the first minute it's pretty much her voice and some occasional bass and click track, but then everybody kicks in, each instrument contributing something unique, creative, and bold. The band comes together for each "give us the gold" chorus but then scatters to canvass a wide spectrum of sounds. Such an unusual sound and rhythm palette! Bravo! for your courage and confidence! My first top three song. (9.5/10)

4. "Hold Me In" (4:50) Courtney's heavily reverbed voice is still singing all-out despite being mixed a little more within (or behind) the rhythm instruments. The band is very busy with many layers of information noodling in and out and around Courtney--but it all somehow blends together so well. I think because the melody line of the chorus is so powerful. There is a dreamy section in the second half which provides some great contextual perspective from the heavier, more dynamic sections before and after. (9/10

5. "Egg Replacer" (3:10) founded on an odd rhythm as produced by an unusual combination of percussion instruments. As the choruses build a cool and unique plus one of layers start to finish of each. (8/10)

6. "Cradle of Rocks" (4:00) part BLONDIE, part TOM TOM CLUB and TALKING HEADS, this is a hard rocker with a techno edge to it over which Courtney's heavily reverbed voice is tucked back in the mix. (She still manages to steal the show due to her full on 100 decibels voice.) (9/10)

7. "Lovell" (1:27) I love these little cut outs from crowd interactions during their concert tours. I'd love to know the reasons they chose the ones they did.

8. "lovemenot" (5:10) opens like something from THE BEATLES Revolver and remains bass heavy throughout. (8.75/10)

9. "Bird Song" (2:56) so raw and unadulterated--as if Vince just happened to catch Courtney playing at the piano while she was trying out some new song for her next solo album. Very cool! I love this song and the authenticity of the raunchy, choppy sound. (9.25/10)

10. "Catch Light" (4:39) opens a little like Madonna's "Justify my Love" before the heavy power chords of the second minute. The contributions from each and every one of the instruments on this song are remarkable and fascinating throughout. Courtney's singing is actually the rock that holds it all together. Cool! Genius! Top three song for me. (10/10)

11. "Garbage Shark" (5:38) rolling single note bass and plucked violin with heavily effected guitar form the sparse background over which Courtney sings in a very ethereal, delicate voice--until the heavy chorus sections, the final one of which is particularly powerful. Very psychedelic. (9/10)

12. "Golden Hour" (5:51) a little MEW, a little ANATHEMA, an extraordinary song. Top three for me. (10/10)

13. "It Happens" (5:05) sets up as a kind of quirky New Wave jazz tune (Arto Lindsay & The Ambitious Lovers come to mind)--very engaging and relaxed with a kind of relaxed Ska beat and dissonant de-tuned instrumental tapestry. So cool! A dream sequence in the middle that is very pleasant and effective. (9.5/10)

Total Time 52:12

I love this album! I love this new direction the band has chosen! I endorse this wholeheartedly. Bravo and kudos Courtney, Ben, Jessica, Chris, Gavin, and Vince!

Five stars; a minor masterpiece of refreshing new and creative modern progressive rock music.

 You Know What They Mean by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.99 | 101 ratings

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You Know What They Mean
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by javajeff

4 stars You Know What They Mean is an improvement from their previous release Land Animal, which did not do that much for me. It was an average album compared to the raw energy of the previous efforts. You Know What They Mean turns things back around by adding a little bit of Zappa's anything goes, along with the raw energy from the earlier albums. It is loaded with excellent songs, and Give Us the Gold may be one of the best Bent Knee tracks of all their albums. Courtney Swain sounds amazing as ever, and the band sounds even more experimental than usual. They really put effort into making this album crazy without sounding commercial or over-produced. Ben Levin and company created some memorable arrangements, and the band really turned out a gem.
 You Know What They Mean by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.99 | 101 ratings

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You Know What They Mean
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by TCat
Collaborator Eclectic Team

5 stars Bent Knee is a crossover prog band from Boston, Mass. Formed in 2009. The band was original formed by Courtney Swain (lead vocals, keyboards), Vivian Welch (sound design, producer and mixer) and Ben Levin (guitar, backing vocals). After their first album, they brought in more musicians and the line-up has remained the same since then; Chris Baum (violin), Jessica Kion (bass, backing vocals), and Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums). Their fifth full length studio album is called "You Know What They Mean", consisting of 13 tracks and a run time of 52 minutes. None of the tracks exceed the 6 minute mark. The album cover looks like crinkled aluiminim foil with various psychedelic colors reflecting off of it, all multi-faceted, bright and shiny, yet a bit chaotic, and that is how the music sounds.

"Lansing" starts off the album with a short introductory piece with a feedback noise and some chatter, it sounds like some concert field recording. "Bone Rage" suddenly smacks you on the side of the head with a noisy beginning, but soon moves into a hard and heavy guitar riff and Courtney's wild vocals. Some solid music follows, with a start/stop descending chordal riff while the vocals swings every which way. The staccato notes of the guitar end up melting together and we enter a loud and chaotic section that suddenly ends with voice and minimal music, which soon jumps right back to a loud ending. "Give Us the Gold" is much softer at the start, with Courtney singing with a only a throbbing percussion and a clicking cymbal. As she sings along in until the band suddenly kicks in and give the track a solid direction. The music ventures from several styles, but you can pick out a melody with verses and chorus among all of this. The great thing is, nothing really settles into any kind of repetitive groove, but pretty much swings around intentionally avoiding any repetition.

"Hold Me In" begins with quite a catchy and rapid drum beat and guitar interplay which eventually brings the vocals in. Again, just as you think the music is going to settle in to something, it wipes out the staccato beginning and turns it into something lush and textural. Courtney's voice swoops and swirls everywhere, and it's quite a sensation, especially with the use of cool effects that include a lot of echo and such. It all culminates in quite an emotional delivery in the vocals, which continue to move about freely in her amazing range. "Egg Replacer" begins minimal and kind of sneaky, but be careful, because it will get intense at times with some crazy outbursts with the entire band. "Cradle of Rocks" is a heavy, more straightforward rocker with a fast and exciting beat. This one seems to be quite a bit more accessible and would be a good single. Since it's more straightforward, it isn't the best example of their music, but it is still an attention getter that could be more radio-friendly, and it still has a good amount of power behind it.

"Lovell" is a bit strange with thick and heavy washes of guitar and synth all blended together. Noisy, but short with some band chatter at the end. "Lovemenot" goes hard, heavy and actually quite sludgy. Courtney's vocals and some string effects lighten it up a bit for a while, but when the full power comes in, it's surprisingly thick and heavy, almost even extreme. As with the other tracks, dynamics are very important, but the noisy sections are pushed to the extreme. "Bird Song" takes off from the last track and the sudden turn to minimalism. The vocals come in on the sparse keys, and there is some interesting vocal layering going on here, but it is quite beautiful and soft. Wow, what a contrast between those tracks, and I love it! "Catch Light" has a looped percussion, and starts off fairly standard, but suddenly becomes heavier when the synth and guitars come in. It's another catchy rhythm but with some outbursts of dissonant chords and a solid ending.

"Garbage Shark" has a dark and ambient feel to it in the beginning, but soon works up to a heavier tone with tortured guitars and a sweetly squealing violin. There are sections with dissonant tension that build and then release, but the track remains dark and eerie throughout. At 4 minutes, ?. Wow happens. A sudden cinematic texture takes over as all the while, vocals continue to keep up with the texture changes. "Golden Hour" starts with long, sustained low synth chords, almost droning along, and then Courtney's echoing vocals come in almost heaven like, sounding like she is singing in a cathedral. What a sound. Well into the 2nd minute, ticking cymbals, tonal percussion and bass push it into a more standard melody, but it is still layered with great accompaniment, which continues to be as intriguing and interesting as the vocals. "It Happens" seems to end it all on a more positive notes, but as the song continues, weirdness creeps in more and more as it goes on. It does end up resolving itself, ending on a lush and atmospheric texture.

I think I have a new vocalist to add to my favorite female vocalists list. I would put her right there with the amazing vocal talent as Kate Bush, even though their styles are quite different, they do share one thing, their sound and styles are both breathtaking. It also helps that the musicianship and instrumentation on this is stellar, the production is great and the use of dynamics, dissonance and unique styles is all top-notch. This album is definitely another favorite for the year, and I am definitely going to put the band on the list of groups to explore. I love the fact that the music can easily fool you, thinking at times that you have something that is somewhat "normal" that suddenly and unpredictable becomes totally unhinged. The music is quirky, no doubt, but it is also extremely well done. I really enjoy this album, and it always seems like it goes by so fast because I enjoy it so much. It never gets stale or boring through it entire length. I really don't know who to compare it to, but to me, its what I always wanted Portishead to sound like, with more outbursts and a large dose of progressive exploration, dynamic and expressive singing and instrumental backup, where the noise and music are just as important as the singing. I really love this! 5 stars. Unhinged and unpredictable with an amazing vocalist.

 Land Animal by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.80 | 89 ratings

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Land Animal
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 3.5 stars. I just can't pull the trigger on 4 stars but I do feel this is an improvement on the previous album "Say So". Of course the standard when it comes to this band from Boston is their 2014 release called "Shiny Eyed Babes" and I really feel that can't be repeated considering the subject matter. They sort of tried that with "Say So" and it failed in my opinion. "Land Animal" has a theme to it apparently as the band looks at the modern human condition and while they are at it they take us back to where we evolved from the ocean(haha). Sorry I find evolution to be one of the most ridiculous subjects out there. Yup a big explosion caused what we see on Earth today(haha). Yeah it's a theory only and not a good one. Anyway I like the fact that they slow things down here at times, I like the atmosphere but I also miss the power from that 2014 release. Not big on the many light- hearted moments either. We get several guests adding violas, violins, cellos and a trumpet.

"Terror Bird" gets us started as a beat and guitar lead the way as the vocals join in. This will be contrasted with the more powerful vocal led sections. Check out those vocal melodies before 4 minutes. "Hole" has this rhythm that sort of starts and stops as the vocals join in. I like that powerful sound before 1 1/2 minutes with those insane vocal melodies.

"Holy Ghost" is a strange title for a song considering the subject matter. It's mellow to start with relaxed vocals before it starts to build. A catchy and bouncy sound arrives after 2 minutes with vocals, then back to that powerful sound from earlier. "Insides In" is quite laid back with reserved vocals at first. Strings before 2 minutes. A calm 3 minutes in before a powerful atmosphere kicks in just before 4 minutes. Love those vocal melodies after 5 minutes. We get an experimental ending.

"These Hands" has this catchy and simple melody as vocals join in. I like when she starts to sing with more passion. A feel good passage right here. She's singing even more powerfully before 3 minutes. A calm follows before it kicks back in. Another experimental ending. "Land Animal" is powerful to begin with along with some great sounding atmosphere. It settles with vocals a minute in. Not into this as contrasts continue. I do like the section 3 minutes in as it's quite powerful with vocals. Strings follow.

"Time Deer" is catchy with vocals contrasted with a feel good section also with vocals. There's always vocals(haha). Strings after 2 minutes then rumbling drums. The power is back 3 minutes in. "Belly Side Up" has intricate sounds and vocals to start. Strings will join in. I'm not into the multi- vocal sections. Hey some electric guitar after 3 minutes but it's brief. Some rare organ as well follows to the end.

"The Well" is light and humerous with vocals. I'm not into this at all. Some heavier sounds will eventually arrive, strings too. Some power after 4 minutes then back to the silliness. "Boxes" is easily my favourite track on here. What a change in sound though. Atmosphere and a beat to start as relaxed vocals join in. Man this sounds so good a minute in. Lots of space, a nice change of pace.

I enjoyed this album for the most part but this might be where I get off. "Shiny Eyed Babies" will always cause me to respect this band though.

 Land Animal by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.80 | 89 ratings

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Land Animal
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars Boston-based many-dimensional progressive rockers BENT KNEE are back with their fourth album. This one feels less hurried and far more mature than their previous effort, 2016's Say So. This is a band that is not only clicking on all cylinders, it is composing and playing at such a high level that it often takes many listens to hear all of the band member's contributions. That is one reason why this June release only receives my review posting in November.

1. "Terror Bird" (4:11) Great opening song! Opens with a weave of staccato sounds coming from many instruments-- a feature which turns out to be the foundation for all but the choruses when chords and volumes amp up. The use of strings in support in the second section and choruses is a nice effect. Courtney's voice is as dynamic and under- the-skin insistent as ever. Awesome! (9/10)

2. "Hole" (3:21) quirky and industrial, combining some 80s and 90s sound styles with an almost Oriental melodic palette. The music could even befit a soundtrack to a Japanese animation. But, once again, the lead vocal brings us back to Kansas. (or is it Oz?) Another instance where I am dumbfounded and astounded at this band's creative expression. (8.5/10)

3. "Holy Ghost" (5:33) amazing song construction, vocal, and drumming. This band is so tight! (9/10)

4. "Insides In" (6:29) a much more sedate and smooth opening feels and sounds good for a change. Courtney opens with a bluesy/torch song vocal styling--carrying it forward into the chorus--before piano and strings bridge us back to the A section. Strings, piano, and drum incidentals are so marvelous! Such a polished, carefully planned and executed song. This band is so at their peak! I would love to hear more music like this from them. The second half of the song has us waiting suspensefully before a series of dramatically-spaced and wonderfully effective monster hits from guitar, bass and drum bring us fully into the cinematic prog world--which only continues as the music ramps up to a kind of crescendo of sustained tension before collapsing into odd animal-industrial sounds. (10/10)

5. "These Hands" (5:36) opens as if bleeding over from the previous song but then deftly, easily, switches into an entirely different kind of music and song. Pizzicato strings and jazz percussion support Courtney's jazzy piano and vocal. Truly a stunning song of highly complex progressive rock music. (10/10)

6. "Land Animal" (5:13) opens with a very theatric, cinematic pomposity. Vocal chorus joins in the second round, then things quiet down for the entrance of the lead vocal. The quiet spacey "sending out a message" section in the third and fourth minutes is my favorite part. Then a strings-supported true electric lead guitar solo! (A rare thing for this band!) Nice section. (9/10)

7. "Time Deer" (4:19) a fairly straightforward rock start becomes complicated by Courtney's vocal, and the slightly off-center syncopation of the guitars, bass, strings and drums. Interesting. Courtney's vocals are so powerful that I fear that we come to take them for granted: she is always amazing and, I believe, inimitable (and this despite my deafness to lyrics and their meanings). (8.5/10)

8. "Belly Side Up" (4:15) such a different song--could come from the 1940s or 50s with its poppy effects, sharp orchestration, "old" guitar sound, and, of course, "school girl" background vocal choir. (8/10)

9. "The Well" (5:30) a song that, unfortunately, feels like we've heard it before ("Holy Ghost" and "These Hands"). Luckily, I love the sassy-seductress vocal. (A little Piaf?) The second half with its interplay of polyrhythms is very cool.(8.5/10)

10. "Boxes" (12:44) opens like a Peter Gabriel soundscape. Awesome drum, bass, and atmospherics. Courtney's voice enters at her most seductive. The song floats along like as if we're laying in a boat looking at the night sky while riding the softly rolling waters of the lake/harbor beneath us "I made it to the twenty-first century" is such and awesome line! Percussive and tuned and computerized incidentals pepper, dot, and streak the instrumental sky between vocal sections and to the end where Gavin's rock-steady, impeccable beats play out far into the finish. What an awesome song! What an awesome end to the album! (9.5/10)

Five stars; another masterpiece of truly progressive rock music from these young masters of 21st Century art.

 Land Animal by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.80 | 89 ratings

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Land Animal
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by javajeff

3 stars This album took some time to digest as it is not as raw sounding as the first three excellent albums. While Land Animal is another solid release from the band, I prefer Say So as it turned me on to the band in the first place. It feels like Land Animal lost some raw energy in favor of more production value. It has more expected, predictable, and planned arrangements, but this could be because I am now used to their style of music. How different would I feel if Land Animal was their only album? That would likely make a huge difference in evaluating this album on it's own merit. I was blown away by the older material when I first heard them, because their style of music was so new to me. They are a genre-defying art-rock band, and Land Animal features ten tracks with two over the six minute mark. I would recommend Say So and Shiny Eyed Babies as starting points for the band, but Land Animal should not be overlooked.
 Say So by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 160 ratings

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Say So
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This might have been the most anticipated album for me in 2016. I remember putting it on for the first time and listening, just hoping I wouldn't be disappointed, and the first two tracks certainly impressed me but it was very much hit and miss after that. This has to be the most bombastic band out there these days, and when your "over the top" like that your going to be awesome to see live no doubt. Courtney's vocals that span every emotion you could think of and Ben's instrumental work and composing skills will make this a band to be reckoned with for many, many years. I just found this latest album "Say So" to be in the same style as the great "Shiny-Eyed Babies" including the subject matter(relationships from a woman's perspective) only it really does pale when compared to an album that I consider to be a top three for 2014. They do have a lot of ideas here so yes there's lots here that impressed me but also lots that left me unfulfilled to say the least. It's rated right now around number 50 on the Gnosis site which I would say is about right.

"Black Tar Water" really starts things off well as we get keys and reserved vocals to start. I do like those vocal melodies that Courtney uses a lot more of on this album. Drums after a minute as she starts to sing words again. More vocal melodies then a calm before it starts to build, even the vocals are more passionate. Another calm later with whispers ends it. "Leak Water" is another highlight and it opens with a guitar line that is joined by vocals then a catchy beat. A calm 2 minutes in as sparse keys, guitar and vocals come and go until it kicks in hard. It settles back and check out the emotion after 3 1/2 minutes. Great section!

"Counselor" is a disappointment. I'm just not into her vocal style although I get why she's singing that way considering the subject matter. Atmosphere to start as violin, piano and guitar join in as it builds until the vocals arrive. Here comes the bombast both vocally and instrumentally. There's even a CARDIACS-like section after 2 1/2 minutes. A cheeky tune but I'm not into it. "Eve" is the longest track at over 9 minutes. It also opens with a guitar line like an earlier track as vocals and more join in. I like how the lyrics are accompanied with dissonant sounds instrumentally. A massive drop of sound before 2 minutes that shakes the soundscape, like a bomb going off. A calm with reserved vocals follows then it picks up later before 4 minutes with vocals. Not into this then more power arrives around 5 minutes as we get insanity for a minute as she starts singing again amid the dissonance and atmosphere.

"Interlude" is less than a minute of atmosphere and guitar expressions. "The Things You Love" features heavy sounds as multi-vocal melodies join in. A calm follows as reserved vocals and keys take over, mellow. Sparse keys, violin and percussion take over then back to the relaxed vocals and sound. Some vocal melodies later and they will build in sound to the end, not a fan. "Nakami" opens with laid back piano then vocals before a minute, guitar too. I like the vocals here. The strings become prominent. It does get fuller and even more so after 3 1/2 minutes with the focus on the vocals. Love the deranged ending.

"Commercial" has a pretty bad multi-vocal intro before a challenging instrumental section takes over then the vocals kick in with passion. It's kind of funny before 3 minutes with the violin and sound. I love the haunting ending, more please. "Hands Up" might go down as the worse so called Prog song that I've heard in 2016. Really? Can anyone tell me that this is not pure [&*!#]? So commercial and vocal driven. Losing credibility here. "Good Girl" ends the album and it's somewhat dark and slow moving to start with guitar as reserved vocals join in. Strings before 3 minutes then it turns louder after 5 minutes with more depth as the vocals continue. It's spacey late to end it.

Man there are a ton of guests helping out, I counted close to 40 who add vocals, horns and strings throughout this album. Huge disappointment for me but I know I'm just one of many who feel let down here. I'll stick to the hair- raising "Shiny-Eyed Babies" but will for sure keep tabs on this talented band.

 Say So by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 160 ratings

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Say So
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by Nogbad_The_Bad
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl & Eclectic Team

5 stars Bent Knee are from Boston so I've had the distinct pleasure of seeing them numerous times over the last two years. Having made a significant step forward from their debut to Shiny Eyed Babies there was a distinct worry that this third album may suffer from comparison to what was one of my favorite albums of 2014. Fortunately that is not the case. I heard most of the the material on Say So performed live before the release and while excellent live it has come on leaps and bounds when executed in the studio. This is again collection of wonky edgy pop with a heavy emphasis on Courtney Swain's vocals which have a dynamic range a strength that continue to surprise and most remind me of Moorea Dickason of MoeTar. The beauty of Bent Knee is that all the music is group compositions and give room to all the instruments without feeling forced. It would be easy to make the band a showcase for Courtney's vocals & Ben Levin's manic guitar work but the rhythm section of Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth (drums) & Jessica Kion (bass) are tight and dynamic adding twists and turns throughout. The violin of Chris Baum is a subtler contributor but vital to the overall sound. The production from Vince Welch gives a real depth and vigor to the sound while maintaining clarity. A great signing to the Cuneiform label and a strong candidate for album of the year.
 Say So by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 160 ratings

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Say So
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by jazz2896

4 stars What a fine record this is. Bent Knee had somehow flown under my radar for the past couple years, but I'd seen their name pop up here and there but I never gave much thought to checking them out until a friend posted "Counselor" on Facebook. I immediately ordered this album, no hesitation. This album is a beacon of originality in a year filled with nostalgia acts reaching out to the 70's (and I guess the 80's are getting popular again) for inspiration. The lead singer Courtney Swain has one of the most delicate and yet powerful voices I've heard in awhile. She has moments that remind me of everything from old vocal jazz acts to a particularly snarling Kate Bush, but all in her own unique way; a true talent. The band is also incredibly tight and pull off all the ornate accompaniments and style shifts with finesse. One particular song I'd like to point out is "Hands Up", and I know this won't be a popular opinion, but this is one of my favorites off of the album, and it's probably the poppiest song on here. The melody is simplistic, yet utterly heart wrenching, and the chorus will be stuck in your head for days just like any good pop song should do, but it's such a well written and arranged song I can't help but love it. Utter pop perfection. This would be a five star album for me, but my interest tends to fade in the middle as the experimental influences seem to step aside to make room for the "indie" influences. Regardless, this is still an album that anyone looking for some fantastic original modern music should check out. Highly recommended, and easily one of my top five albums of the year so far.
 Say So by BENT KNEE album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.91 | 160 ratings

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Say So
Bent Knee Crossover Prog

Review by BrufordFreak
Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars As I feared, Bent Knee's previous album, 2014's Shiny Eyed Babies--a masterpiece for the ages and one of my all-time favorite albums (#3)--has made it difficult for any future Bent Knee efforts to compare much less exceed the standards they set previously.

1. "Black Water Tar" (3:29) a top three song from me and a real grower as one listens repeatedly. (9/10)

2. "Leak Water" (4:41) the first of three or four consecutive songs that use a rather annoying violin/guitar scrape/pluck to establish a stark soundscape as well as a straightforward metronomic time signature. The song is good, the lyric interesting, but Courtney and crew may have taken this one too far (length, that is.) (9/10)

3. "Counselor" (5:51) this song has the impact, intensity and compositional cleverness that I expected to come from Bent Knee's "next" project. All band members are working at their highest capacity, full potential, on this one. And the lyrical content is uncomfortably edgy-awkward--just what I expect from Ben and Courtney. Fresh and innovative. Awesome! (9/10)

4. "Eve" (9:12) just never gets up and going--or takes too long to do so. BK's first attempt at an epic is a disappointment. (8/10)

5. "Transition" (0:49) is an awesome Dave Fiuczynksi-like guitar exercise in Asian microtones.

6. "The Things You Love" (6:12) seems to have some structural foundation in what feels like Chinese or SE Asian (Cambodia?) melodies--which is, to me, very much its strength. The gentler side of Courtney's voice matched with the strength of the large chorale work is an awesome trick--though the sections in which Courtney sings in her delicate voice are perhaps a bit too long. (9/10)

7. "Nakami" (5:20) contains a story and melodic sense fitting for stage and screen. A very welcome change of pace and style. I love the Japanese instrumental and melodic choices that are foundational to the song's first three minutes, but I LOVE the shift that occurs at 3:15 to the song's end. Stupendous! (10/10)

8. "Commercial" (3:44) represents the title quite well. There are lots of rapid fire bytes and bits, micro-tones, and discordant, chaotic, disruptive, disturbing--things that are so inherent to the basic fabric of modern society. (8/10)

9. "Hands Up" (5:40) is lyrically quite clever yet musically quite straightforward and rather unexceptional (by Bent Knee standards. This song reminds me of the songs from their debut album--trying to do much but somehow just not hitting the mark, not synchronized or hitting on all cylinders). (8/10)

10. "Good Girl" (6:43) is a slow, grungy, methodical, and spacious song which highlights the amazing musical chemistry and sympathy between Bent Knee co-founders, guitarist BEN Levin and vocalist CourTNEY Swain--and the work in the mixing room by VINCE WELCH is nothing short of astounding. This band is so talented! (9/10)

Some of my general impressions after listening to these songs over the past few weeks are conjuring up some of the (few) negative comments I've read by reviewers of Bent Knee's previous work, particularly the reference to the dynamic rollercoaster that the band subjects the listener to: it is sometimes difficult to stay with the band with such frequent and sudden vacillations between extreme loud and extreme soft; it requires a listener to be a) myopically focused on the music (to no other distraction) and b) incredibly tolerant of such dynamism. Whereas with Shiny Eyed Babies it is almost natural and joyful to remain so focused, with this album it is . . . more work; the journey that Shiny Eyed Babies took me on was so engaging, so exciting, so energizing, emotional, and authentically personal that it has never been an issue to tune in, give my full attention, and stick with it. I want to. I can't help myself. From start to finish. This album offers no such pull, no consistent bond of affection and awe--well, maybe some awe, but not the excitement and empathic connection.

Awesome album cover and design!

Later addendum (7/31016): It's been a couple months now that I've spent with Say So. My appreciation and enjoyment of all of the songs have increased however I will not change any of my ratings for I am of the same opinion as to their place among the scale. This album, while polished and intricately detailed in its construction, is not the shocking, bare-bones masterpiece that Shiny Eyed Babies was.

Thanks to kev rowland for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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