A couple of weeks ago I tuned into Prog Rock Deep Cuts with Ian Beabout, and discovered one of the most mind-blowing, intense up-and-coming bands that knocked me out of my seat. That band is Boston’s own Bent Knee. They have been around since forming in 2009 as they were students at the Berklee College of Music.
And they are a six piece that considers; Courtney Swain on Vocals and Keyboards, Ben Levin on Guitar and Vocals, Jessica Klon on Bass and Vocals, Chris Baum on Violin and Vocals, Gavin Wallace-Ainsworth on Drums, and Vince Welch on Synths/Sound Designs. It is a mixture of Baroque, Avant-Pop, Chamber-Art Rock, and Post-Rock rolled into one. And they know the score very, very well. It’s almost as if giving the top 40 radio stations and Ryan Seacrest the big gigantic middle finger and showing how real music is done.
Their second album Shiny Eyed Babies which was released last year, will have you terrified, jaw-dropped, and blown away from the moment you put the CD on from start to finish. It begins with a lullaby of the title track that has a Randy Newman-sque with a New Orleans vibe on the piano before it segues into the darkness with Way Too Long.
This is where Courtney comes in with a powder keg ready to explode as if the mental patients are ready to take over the asylum. The blaring guitars and thumping drums done by Ben and Gavin creates the tension as if the pin is dropped. Courtney’s voice resembles the essence of Tori Amos, Grace Slick, Peter Hammill and Dagmar Krause (Art Bears/Slapp Happy/Henry Cow) as if she is portraying the mental patient as if she is revealing her dark secrets to the listener on the corruptive world that we are living in.
And she can howl brilliantly well! The chaotic rhythm hits like an eruptive explosion as the double-voices come at you to give shivers down the spine. In God We Trust sees Bent Knee going into a vibration in the essence of The Arcade Fire’s Funeral-era before the finale heads into a tunnel driven rhythm while the dramatic boom of Battle Creek delves into the gothic orchestral beauty of a dystopian society that was once beautiful turned into a post-apocalyptic nightmare and the ominous touches, fits the atmosphere.
Then the band give a relaxation for 2 minutes. With Untitled, they give Courtney shining through on her vocals on the Piano. It has a touch between Roxy Music’s Chance Meeting meets Kurt Weill’s The Threepenny Opera but its Skin that goes into the style of MoeTar’s music with an attitude. There is the catchy rhythm between Gavin and Jessica Klon doing a jazzier groove and then heading into the Alternative Rocking-out adventure.
The last 2-minutes are like an eerie nightmare with a score-like Lynch before ending almost in the styles of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue. It is a disturbing yet beautiful way to end the track out into a motivative finale. This is my third time listening to Bent Knee’s second album.
And for me, let me just say this is the album that is a challenging, powerful, and mind-blowing albums that just leaves me excited and wanting to hear more of their music. The experience on here is jaw-dropping. I hope they will do more in the years to come and since this is crowning achievement, just be prepare to embark on a journey, that will you take to a universe you haven’t seen before.