|three & Saffron|
Dual CD Release February 2002
distinct half of a two-CD release, Saffron displays the mellower yet
creative side of the Bandees. The duo of Stephen and Patricia Dees cover
all bases by sharing vocal duties and playing a multitude of instruments. Saffron
delivers the mainstay jewels the Bandees are respected for, such as the
Beatlesque, folk-pop sounds of “Anna” and “Something Better”.
But Saffron also takes on a worldly flavor with the beautiful oriental feel of
“China Box” and the Celtic flair of “Siren’s Prayer”. An
enchanting journey from beginning to end, Saffron reaches well beyond the
mainstream realm of folk and pop-rock with imagination and soul.
The heavier side of the Bandees, Three, rocks with harder guitars and a pounding beat. With the presence of Brit-pop and ‘80s synth rock, Three is the polar opposite of Saffron. Dark and sinister overtones loom over “Bad Seed” and the David Bowieish “It’s Not Working”. With a blistering guitar lead, “Pinky and the Handjive” is an instrumental that feels like a spy movie, while “Boner” is a down and dirty rocker with the lyrics “I got a boner baby”. A dramatic song with breathing room to climax, “My One” is a powerhouse driven by Stephen Dees’ dynamic vocal performance-one that can be compared to the likes of Bono
now on, all Bandees cds should have advisory stickers slapped on them:
“Warning: Mad Pop Genius At Work, Listen At Your Own Risk”. The key word
here is “mad”. Not “mad” as in “angry”, “mad” as in
“scientist”. Stephen Dees could be the Dr. Frankenstein of pop music,
managing to create the most monstrously
delicious slabs of music out of a myriad of influences that could have
resulted in so many sonic train-wrecks if lesser talent had been in charge. In
fact, Dees and his wife Patricia have become so adept at building pure power
pop for the new millenium, they created not one but two
new cds for your listening pleasure. Three picks up where 1998’s They
Fly Around left off, serving up the Bandees own special brand of modern rock,
while Saffron is a bit mellower, almost folksy at times. This should dispel
any notion whatsoever that the band has nothing to say, because they’ve got
On Three, the Bandees have built their storytelling madness and mayhem around some nifty original alt.rock riffs. Does the notion of mixing the best of the Beatles and Bowie, a dash of X, Elvis Costello, and the Violent Femmes and a drop or two of chick-rock cool (think Blondie or the Ronettes), with a good-sized chunk of that whole late-twentieth-century-psychedelic-jangly-pop-guitar thing whet your appetite yet? How about just enough tongue-in-cheek snark to make sure you understand all that talk about stuff like boners isn’t to be taken too seriously, even if it sounds like it might be a very serious thing indeed? The best part of “Three” is the way the toe-tapping-happy melodies and harmonies wrap themselves around such non-pop-like topics as stalkers (“Psycho Boy”), dysfunctional families (“It’s Not Working”), and the fad-of-the-moment mentality of modern American society (“Month Of The Flavor”). Conversely, on Saffron, the mood is more romantic and acoustically driven. Here, Patricia Dees handles a lot of the vocal work, sounding alternately sweet (“My Only Man”), and very soulful (“Sad Room”, this releases’ standout track). The flute, sax, and oboe embellishments help convey this cds sweeter themes, perfectly woven into tales of being happily in love or finding one’s inner peace. And both Dees are accomplished multi-instrumentalists, which makes Saffron an especially enjoyable listen.
It takes a lot of know-how and a little bit of magic to serve up a couple of dishes this tasty this early on in a career. Three and Saffron find the Bandees continuing to live up to the challenge of making their music an accessible and fun alternative to today’s rap/metal monsters of rock.
"Saffron," one of two new albums by the Bandees, opens with
"Anna," a sweet and airy, flute-buoyed love song that recalls John
"Three," the other new Bandees album, opens with a blast of
raw guitars and raunchy harmonica, then spills into a slab of stud rock. It's a
tale of a crude 'n' lewd prowlin' wolf who'll make Beavis and Butt-head snicker
If this satyr ever meets “Anna”, the results
won't be pretty. But the results are quite pretty, and mod and rocking, on the
Bandees' two new albums.
The local rock duo,
composed of soulmates and multi-instrumentalists Stephen Dees and Patricia Ann
Dees, don't quite pull a Jekyll/Butt-head...er, Jekyll/Hyde maneuver.
"Three" and "Saffron" aren't exactly night and day. Except
for the aforementioned stud-rock lark, "Three" is too clever for the
Beavis and Mr. Hyde set.
But the mod rock of
"Three" makes for an intoxicating and agitating (in a cool way)
Saturday night record, while "Saffron" delivers plenty of
"Three" finds Stephen deploying lots of
sweet 'n' sour guitars, synths and his David Bowie-esque voice, whether it's to
diss vapid followers of pop-culture fads on "Month of the Flavor," or
to depict the frantic meltdown of a dysfunctional family (or rock band) on
"It's Not Working." "Has Maxwell's silver hammer hit me on the
head?" Dees sings on the latter tune, picking up the Beatles' reference
with "Must be my instant karma, I've made my bed."
But the Bandees are at their best when they amazingly
crossbreed Tom Petty and Marilyn Manson on "Psycho Boy" and "Bad
Seed," and concoct a rumble-billy/Tom Petty confection on
"Are you mad or just insane? You possess a major
damaged brain," Patricia coos coolly on "Psycho Boy," a
masterpiece of paranoia that leaves one wondering whether the narrator might
be a Travis Bickle (remember "Taxi Driver"?). "You might think
that you're a spy. Geek boy, you're not FBI. Haven't you anything better to do
than watching me hating you?"
"Saffron" finds Patricia Ann stepping to
the fore with her flute, oboe and sax playing, casting a balm over the album's
Dedicated to George Harrison, "Something
Better" floats upon flute and harpsichord-like synth as Stephen sings a
metaphysical plea to "hide the crosses, hide the stars, the dogma we've
placed on ourselves."
"You are My Baby" is a McCartney-like silly
love song propelled by peppy piano. "Sirens Prayer" swings with the joie
de vivre of Renaissance and Celtic folk tunes. "Square" deftly
resurrects the cool jazz-rock style of Traffic.
On both "Three" and "Saffron,"
the Bandees deliver the right spice!
Bandees, "Three" (SLD Music) (excellent)
Bandees, "Saffron" (SLD
[By RICK de YAMPERT, Entertainment Editor, Daytona
Beach News Journal]