I remember being at South Street Seaport Center for one of the first Friday shows this Summer, talking to my friend Chris who works for River to River. There was an open date they hadn’t booked yet and he was asking me who they should get. I said, "It’s probably too late, but you should get the Bees."
He said, "Bill, they played last week at our Financial Center series." Incredulous, I pressed the issue. "Really? The British Bees? From the Isle of Wight?" Chris conferred with a colleague and clarified, "Oh… no, it was the other Bees. The American Bees." Vindicated, I added, "The sucky Bees."
Of course I had never actually heard the American Bees when I said that. I just assumed they sucked. The Bees I liked were forced to change their name in America to Band of Bees thanks to this other, surely inferior group. Whenever there are two bands with the same name and one is forced to change their name, almost always the latter is the good one. (And I’m sure there are exceptions to this rule, but I’m thinking of Dinosaur, Suede and, to a lesser extent, The Beat [power pop fans, please don’t berate me about how awesome Paul Collins is].) So I felt confident in my assumption.
A month or so later, I got a record in the mail by The Silver Seas. High Society was resplendent in melody, lush harmonies and sparkling production. For someone whose musical memories began in the ’70s, the Silver Seas were pure A.M. Gold. Once I was hooked (about one minute into High Society’s Seals & Crofts-esque title track) I did a little digging and discovered up until just recently, they were the very domestic Bees band I was dissing back in June. These are my words, and I am happily eating them.
So who are these former Bees, now Seas? Formed in Nashville, the Silver Seas are ostensibly singer-songwriter Daniel Tashian and instrumentalist-arranger-producer Jason Lehning, who have been together since 1999 or so, though they (as the Bees) only released their debut, Starry Gazey Pie, in 2004, and High Society in November of last year. (Lehning stays busy as a Nashville producer, having worked with with pretty much every CMT star of the last 15 years.)
Question is, why did the winner in the Bees name contest flinch? According to them… "There were too many Bee bands." (Band of Bees, Bird and the Bee… who else?) Whatever reason, I think it was probably a smart move, as it differentiates them from a crowded pack of killer Bs. And above all, it’s a great record, barely clocking in at over 30 minutes and every song could be a single (well, in 1977 maybe).
From what I can tell, the Silver Seas’ High Society remains unchanged from the version released last year, apart from the name on the cover. It’s re-released November 26, kind of a shame as this is a Summer Album if I ever heard one. But it will sound just as good preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Speaking of, a couple tastes…