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ASIAXPRESS.COM'S TOP FIVE ASIAN-AMERICAN ALBUMS OF 2008

5. The Shanghai Restoration Project – Story of a City | 4. Lyrics Born – Everywhere At Once |

3. Far East Movement – Animal | 2. Priscilla Ahn – A Good Day |

1. Thao with The Get Down Stay Down – We Brave Bee Stings and All

 

Top 5: Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

Jinx, schminx, ‘We Brave Bee Stings And All’ shows sophomore success

 

Thao with The Get Down Stay Down

We Brave Bee Stings and All

(Kill Rock Stars, 2008)

Release date: Jan. 29, 2008

Four out of four stars

Superstitions hold no power over Thao Nguyen.

 

In the Virginia-raised singer-songwriter’s second studio album, We Brave Bee Stings And All, Nguyen avoids the dreaded sophomore jinx and creates a body of work that far surpasses her initial endeavor. Her intricate lyrics and toe-tapping melodies are laced across the 11-track alt-folk rock compilation.

 

The album opens with “Beat (Health, Life And Fire),” featuring Nguyen’s breathy, sustained vocals that lead sweet marxophone plucks over marching snares. Simple electronic guitar riff and a subdued trombone complement, creating a fully bodied sound.

 

“Yes, So On And So On” is a tranquil tune with simple guitar strums and piano hits lazily carrying the melody. Her lyrics about learning life’s lessons are among the best on the CD: “Loved large enough / To want to shrink / Been dumb enough / To start to think.”

 

The best song on the album is the chipper “Bag of Hammers.” Its bright, light-hearted guitar plucks and soft beat-boxing, produce a foot-stomping cadence over soothing euphony. But Nguyen’s lyrics invoke images of a scorned woman coming out of a relationship: “And as sharp as I sing / As sharp as I sting / It still soothes you doesn’t it / Like the lick of ice cream.”

 

Some artists struggle to produce anything worth listening to after their debut, but like a banjo-wielding bard slaying a high-level boss, Nguyen has leveled up and refined her skills in We Brave Bee Stings And All. The album’s thoughtful, melodic poetry carries the same impact no matter how many times they’re heard.

 

For more information on Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, visit www.thaomusic.com.

 

If you only buy one song, pick up – "Bag of Hammers"

 

For more information on Thao with The Get Down Stay Down, visit www.thaomusic.com.

 

Joe Nguyen is the editor of AsiaXpress.com. Joe can be reached via e-mail at joe@asiaxpress.com.

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