The dark winters of Boston bore a child that crawled out of the womb and called itself Bent Knee. Orchestral textures, haunting vocals, dynamic sound, and charismatic presence are all calling cards for this twisted little rock group. When placed on a stage, seven musical creatures sawing away on their instruments provoke an immersive journey and an intimate conversation, all at once. The pinnacle of the Bent Knee experience is the deafening silence between loud explosions, syllable, word, and phrase that leaves the listener hanging in anticipation and uncertainty.
Courtney Swain - Vocals, keyboards
Ben Levin - Vocals, Guitar
Chris Baum - Violin
Gavin Wallace-Ailsworth - Drums
Philip Eberhart - Vocals, Accordion
Jessica Kion - Vocals, Bass
Vince Welch - Live Sound Processing
BENT KNEE (September, 2011)
Sessions from the Box: BENT KNEE
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Bent Knee assaults and caresses the listeners ears at the same time with their amalgam of bombastic ...Bent Knee assaults and caresses the listeners ears at the same time with their amalgam of bombastic epic rock, classical music, electronic, and operatic stylings. They also might be playing at a haunted carnival from what I can tell. Learn more here.
BENT KNEE returns with a stunning "Since I've Been Loving You" cover
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When we came across Bent Knee’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” in May, a few things were clear immedia...When we came across Bent Knee’s cover of Radiohead’s “Creep” in May, a few things were clear immediately. The first was the sheer power and intensity of Courtney Swain’s voice; the second was that the band doesn’t treat their source material as source material per se. They don’t look at the night sky and set out to paint it with detail and precision and accuracy; they look at the sky and give us Van Gogh’s “Starry Night.” It nods at the original, but becomes something else entirely.
Their recent cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” serves only to reinforce these impressions. From the very start, they deliver something new, yet grounded. The bluesy guitar of the original is replaced with a lilting piano that hints at jazz without ever throwing the change or cleverness in the listener’s face. When Swain’s voice kicks in, the song feels something like an unexpected Norah Jones cover until just before the halfway mark when she gives us a wail with the feel of a kettle just getting ready to boil over. That’s when everything comes out and the band gives us more than just their sheer talent and the beauty of the music they can make; they unleash themselves on the song, unleash their own style, and show us precisely how vast their bag of tricks is.
Artsy Intros: BENT KNEE
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I'm so excited to introduce the "Avant-Indie" band Bent Knee! A mixture of Bjork, Radiohead, Portis... I'm so excited to introduce the "Avant-Indie" band Bent Knee! A mixture of Bjork, Radiohead, Portishead, layers, gorgeous vocals and awesome arrangements, this band based out of Boston, MA is on the verge of exploding into the ears of concert goers in the Western states this August and I'm guessing many more ears in a very short amount of time.
Currently gearing up for their tour and a CD release September 27th, they're doing "BENT KNEE Wednesdays" each week till the release where they will release new content for their fans/friends. This week, they are releasing an AMAZING cover of "Since I've Been Loving You" by Led Zeppelin. I'm listening to it right now and so far I've gotten chills, smiled hugely and am so impressed with the progress this band has made in such a short amount of time. This cover is uniquely them, with a combination of sweetness, edge, dynamics and layers of sound. To get your own copy of the cover this Wednesday, follow them on facebook.
Their songs are like listening to musical stories and their performances truly are just that - shows that will suck you in and not let go until it's time to leave. I'm definitely going to do my best to make it over to Seattle this August 15th to catch their show at the Comet Tavern. If you're in Seattle, Oregon or California you can check out their tour dates here.
So, once you check out this band, discover you love them and want their album when it comes out you can head on over to their kickstarter page to pre-order! There are a few different options once you get there, including ordering a t-shirt, get a personal thank-you card from the band and for those of you who have all that extra dough they describe these choices for you to choose from on their site: (a) A wax shrine that we will build in your honor and dedicate to you. (b) A Godzilla figure hand-chosen by our drummer Gavin. (c) Date with our violinist Chris Baum. (d) Accordion lesson with our accordionist Phil. (e) Fashion consultation with our bassist Jessica. (f) Shock-therapy session with our guitarist Ben. (g) Dinner & drinks with the band.
So, go check them out! Now! What are you still doing on this page!?!?
Thanks for keeping up with "Artsy Intros"! Follow this page to more easily keep updated and comment below with any suggestions!
BENT KNEE Delivers a Yowling and Chilling "Creep"
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There’s no shortage of covers of Radiohead’s classic, “Creep.” Oftentimes they’re one thing or anoth...There’s no shortage of covers of Radiohead’s classic, “Creep.” Oftentimes they’re one thing or another, focusing on some element of the original without the rest. There’s that guitar, rocking and grungy, juxtaposed against Thom Yorke’s steady vocals. Some bands take on the distortion, others the softer side. Both approaches typically do a fair job of capturing some of the song’s creepiness (pun intended).
Boston’s Bent Knee takes on the song in a way that is different, yet, somehow, inevitable. Rather than laying low on the verse and screaming through the chorus, the band powers through the verses with the howl of the guitars and Courtney Swain’s vocals, and then brings the hush on the chorus. Between the perfect switch-up and the ambient elements that pop up, the cover is both familiar and new and certainly a treat to listen to.
BENT KNEE Unveils Styrofoam Heart
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When I got word that Courtney Swain and Ben Levin of Johnny Stranger had started a new project calle...When I got word that Courtney Swain and Ben Levin of Johnny Stranger had started a new project called Bent Knee, I was intrigued. From knowing these two individuals for their musical talent and for being extremely silly bastards, I couldn't wait to hear what they would come up with. So I went to the Bent Knee website (www.bentkneemusic.com) and checked out their first single Styrofoam Heart. I have to say, it's really fuckin' good.
Courtney begins the tale with a simple piano melody and chilling vocals that are normally found on the hills of Iceland. Then Bent Knee kicks it up a few notches when Ben and the gang bust down the door like the Kool Aid man. You get a musical workout with Ben Levin's sexy guitar playing accompanied by Riley Hagan on bass and Tyler LeVander on drums. The last couple minutes of the song is a cool down period to calm your heart rate down. Eric Law on cello helps put a dark undertone to the song that gives it the sauce to make your mouth water. They finish you off so well you need a cigarette. Styrofoam Heart is perfect for everybody, from the girls jamming out in their cars to the freshman doing heroin in their college dorms.
BENT KNEE on TBLMS
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Are we going to remember Gene Simmons for his days in the shamelessly skeevy band KISS or more for h...Are we going to remember Gene Simmons for his days in the shamelessly skeevy band KISS or more for his shameless salesman-like personality (as seen in this interview on Late Night at around the 5:00 mark)? Well, maybe Gene is a bad example because he's always been a shameless peddler of his own self-serving interests (and obviously will be most remembered for his fried fiber glass hair and head like a cheese mold). But howabout those other artists of precious rock 'n' roll lore who really did sell out. The ones who undermined their own authenticity and holy band tenets. I'm looking at you Iggy Pop and John Lydon. Should we show them mercy? But please, don't mention Bob Dylan in the Victoria Secret ad because that's just his masturbatory way of waving his middle finger. I say their music should remain canonized pre-commerce whore but should be swiftly tossed aside when the dollars affect the ditties.
Which brings us to Bent Knee... Purely Authentic Whores! One of the most honest discussions I've had with a band thus far. I was given a no holds barred, deeply intimate look inside their creative process. Ben Levin (guitar) had no reservations opening up about every painstaking ounce of vulnerability in each note and word. He even confessed without any reservation that half of their songs are about his previous infatuation with the lead singer, Courtney. Even if some of his lyrics come across as voyeuristically endearing, Courtney is able to separate the music and "the boys" who are obsessed with her (nudge nudge, wink wink). Both Ben and Courtney heavily use biological imagery in their lyrics which delivers a primal wave of emotions intertwined with scientific-like observations. Although Ben says none of the music's content is optimistic, hopeful or even a lil' sunny, he feels it's relatable and provides comfort and catharsis for those who have felt similar heartache, sorrow and shpilkes.
These guys can also play their damn beating hearts out (or Styrofoam Hearts). A great marriage of acoustic and electronic sounds. They've described it as a robot and an oak tree making love. Great bedroom music for all you dendrophiliacs out there. I think that's a spot on analogy because the music sounds environmental, mechanical and imaginative at the same time. It's complex and visceral. Salty yet sweet. They also make ugly noises sound graceful and pretty ones sound creepy. A bouquet of roses, carnations, baby's breath and just lifeless dead flowers too. It's a paradoxical mind-fuck which makes you feel knackered but still willing to give your digits afterwards. It has some Portishead, Tom Waits, Bjork, Fiona Apple, NIN and even a little early Peter Gabriel in there but they are more influential than borrowed. Check out these two songs below titled "Little Specks of Calcium" and "Dry" which they played on TBLMS. They'll sure get you in that gleefully stalkerish mood.
This satisfying balance is greatly attributed to their use of dynamics. Each instrument plays a key part in their layered arrangements which form a unique blend. They don't fill an obvious role and often change their purpose midway through a song. Their use of Chris on violin and Phil on accordion feels integral to their sound and not gimmicky. Ben rarely strums the guitar but rather finger picks or lets the notes resonate to feed into the ambience. Don't let Jessica's petit stature fool you, as droning whale-like demonic sounds spill from her bass. Courtney shrills on occasion but also caresses the melodies like holding a newborn in her arms. There is a lot of "This Person does That but also does This". It keeps the listener guessing and excitedly awaiting another twist. However... Gavin just fucking rips on the kit leaving smoke trails behind each drumming whip lash. Also, Vince acts as their sound engineer during their performance. He was like a sitting Buddha on our floor playing chess with all the doohickeys on his mixer. Listen to "After Years of Love" below which I think exemplifies the Bent Knee flavor and will knock your dirty socks off.
They just released a full length eponymous album with 8 tracks. You can preview a couple tracks and buy it, snail mail style, here. They'll be gigging in the Boston area for the next few months but have their eyes set on LA down the road (don't tell Dex and Dave). In the meantime, let's milk every little speck of calcium out of these guys and give in to all of our dendrophiliactic urges.
Fresh out of the oven, a review of BENT KNEE's new album
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BENT KNEE released their self titled album this past Tuesday at Club Church. MassMic attended and we...BENT KNEE released their self titled album this past Tuesday at Club Church. MassMic attended and we were welcomed warmly by Guitarist Ben Levin who handed us a free copy of their album. What a guy. In fact, BENT KNEE gave everyone a copy of the CD with a card to fill out to the band so they could use it in some sort of clever marketing scheme. Creative? Of course. How creative? BENT KNEE’s CD is a self packaged, wax sealed, parcel of delectable content. Let’s have a look…
Nice wax seal. Is it authentic? I don't know, who cares it looks cool.
Hand written and copied on sweet 90% opacity weird plasticy paper? Pretty sweet.
If you’ve listened to BENT KNEE already, (you should have, since they were featured last week) you can guess that BENT KNEE, composed by sonic culinarians Ben Levin and Courtney Swain, is a hearty artistic brew. Set in an industrial/rock/pop/experimental stew, the self titled BENT KNEE is an alluring aural feast. The album is marinated with crude distortion and vocals that dance from fierce to sultry, all in a casserole of instrumentation and effects.
MassMic particularly extols the use of arrangement and effects to create a wide palate of dynamic and sonic expression. The vocal effects on BENT KNEE are incredibly rich. They range from subtle garnishes to spicy pitch shifts to distortion beyond recognition, without being crass or obtrusive. Alongside the tremendous vocal wizardry is BENT KNEE’s clever use of accordion and violin as ambient instruments. The haunting setting BENT KNEE brings out in their music is unique through their use of effects and an ensemble of vocals, keys, guitar, bass, drums, accordion, and violin.
The self titled BENT KNEE is definitely an album to put on the menu. Get your hands on it, and make an effort to see them live. They are a theatrical and imaginative group that puts on a great spread… We will be keeping an eye on BENT KNEE, and you should too.
The Best Cover Songs of 2011
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12. Bent Knee Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin cover) In a field like cover music, whe...12. Bent Knee
Since I’ve Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin cover)
In a field like cover music, where versatility is almost taken for granted, bands like Boston’s Bent Knee send expectations reeling with every cover they put out. Their take on Led Zeppelin’s “Since I’ve Been Loving You” is not just a great cover; it is a singularly beautiful piece of music. The track takes us from smooth jazz to a glorious rock-and-roll apocalypse without losing any of its cohesion, coming together in a recording that would make Zeppelin proud without being the least bit derivative. If that’s not the mark of an exceptional cover, it’s hard to say what is. – B.R.
Shorter sets (30-40 minutes):
Original music with some covers.
Longer sets (40 minutes +):
Original music with covers, and improvisation during and transitioning between songs.
Bent Knee - Self Titled
I Don't Love You Anymore
I've Been This Way Before
After Years of Love
Little Specks of Calcium
I'm Still Here
Our covers include:
Respect (Aretha Franklin)
Since I've Been Loving You (Led Zeppelin)
Closer (Nine Inch Nails)
Camouflage (Ringo Shina)
PDF RiderBent Knee: Tech Rider for January tour
There are no upcoming dates at this time.