“Took me about 50 seconds — the length of the woozy, haunting intro to “Marmalade” — to completely fall for Sea of Bees, the nom de tune of Sacramento indie-popper Julie Baenziger. Her debut album “Songs for the Ravens” sounds folky in some places, gauzy and ambient in others and twee as hell in still others, but beautiful throughout, and a potent reminder that emotional virtue is an artist’s most precious commodity. This one’s special, folks, let’s not screw it up.” -Kevin Bronson, Buzzbands LA, LA Weekly
One-woman band turns ache into wonderment:
Multi-instrumentalist Julie Baenziger hails from Grandaddy’s stomping grounds, California’s Central Valley, and like her onetime neighbors, she has an impeccable knack for infusing despair with charm. Her pain is the loveless kind, and she conveys it in a voice equal parts twang and coo, backed by lush country-folk and gossamer bedroom haze. “Skinnybone” sounds like it takes place inside of a music box; “Marmalade” in dense woods on a moonless night. A quick dip into glitch seems like a novice move, but all that slide guitar and glockenspiel give Sea of Bees a seasoned sorrow.
By Chris Martins
“Mark your calendars now because Songs for the Ravens, the debut full-length album from Sea of Bees, comes out on June 1, and it is, without a doubt, fucking fantastic. Following up last year’s The Bee Eee Pee EP, Sea of Bees—the project of Central Valley’s Julie Baenziger—have crafted a haunting, ravishing record that contains infinitely sumptuous layers. Baenziger’s voice ranges from a child’s meow to a wise old woman’s incantations, while the songs’ gorgeously bone-chilling backdrops feel like a sturdy house being restored to its former beauty after years of neglect—there’s some dust and rot and maybe some overgrown vines creeping their way up the walls, but the foundation and frame are as strong as ever. Songs for the Ravens is bound to be one of this year’s finest records; as soon as you hear it you’re not going to be able to shake it.” NED LANNAMANN, Portland Mercury
“I’m not entirely sure why I love this album so much. Sure, there are great arrangements, plenty of nice harmonies, a good blend of acoustic and electric guitars, organs, drums,and electronic flourishes, lush moments, driving moments, and delicate moments. Sure there are sincere lyrics sung with just the right balance of sweetness, confidence, and vulnerability. All assembled into very enjoyable concise songs. Or perhaps it’s the underdog element that seems to accompany myself and many other musician/artists hailing from California’s Central Valley.
These are the things I can put my finger on. That which I cannot put my finger on, is the mysterious, wonderful, and addictive qualities of this album as a whole. Bravo to Jules and her Sea of Bees.” JASON LYTLE, Grandaddy / Admiral Radley
“I like sad music, though I haven’t really listened to much of it in the past couple years—mainly because it hasn’t fit my mood … plus a lot of it is boring. Then I was introduced to Julie Baenziger.
Sea of Bees makes me wish I was sad. Her latest LP Songs For the Ravens (out June 1 on Crossbill Records) centers around that haunting voice, but there’s much more to it. The songs are filled with odd arrangements and intricate layers, and Baenziger played most of the instruments herself … wait, this is her debut?!
Well, actually, Sea of Bees released the Bee Eee Pee last year (recorded in one day after getting a quick ProTools lesson from producer and Tape Op publisher John Baccigaluppi). And while many of Baenziger’s performances feature nothing but her and a guitar, Songs For the Ravens is full-on, with an arsenal of glockenspiel, slide, marimba and keys. But you might not even notice all that when you hear her vocal register, which lies somewhere between that of Björk and Leigh Nash … I know, too good to be true, and it is truly gorgeous. And you don’t even have to be sad to enjoy the songs, a contemplative mood on a gray Portland day would serve as a perfect backdrop.” MARK LORE, The Days of Lore
“There’s something of the Scandinavian about Julie Baenziger and her one-woman band, Sea of Bees, which may come as a surprise to this Californian native but I can assure her that it’s a compliment. Perhaps it’s the ethereal quality to her voice or her penchant for the deep twinkly sound that our European cousins do so well or the fact that her voice on Songs for the Ravens has a distinct twang of a more laidback Nina Persson. Whatever it is, it works.
While this is Baenziger’s debut full-length record it was the recording of her EP ‘Bee Eee Pee’ which turned her into something of a legend when it was revealed that the five-track was recorded a mere 24 hours after Baenziger was shown how to use recording software, ProTools, by producer John Baccigaluppi.
‘Bee Eee Pee’ was so beloved because of its low production and high emotion factor and those qualities have only been expanded on for Songs for the Ravens. The record projects itself as a hybrid of tunes all tied together via the lazy warmness of Baenziger’s voice. “Gnomes” kicks it all off with a wail, backed by a surfy drumbeat while “Skinnybone” drifts along with lilting vocals alongside the echo of an organ and lyrical musings on wanting to ‘hug you day and night’. “Marmalade” has a much darker and deeper beat as does “Sidepain” with its talk of whisky-drinking and broken hearts, which is what keeps this record so interesting and moreish as you witness the tracks tumble between dark and light.
Songs for the Ravens is, I suspect much like it’s author, sweet and complex and the debut album that fans of her EP will be have been waiting for.” NIKKI DODDS, For Folks Sake