Gen F/Video: Thao Nguyen, “Bag Of Hammers”


For whatever reason, we haven't really talked about Thao Nguyen much on this website, even though we jammed We Brave Bee Stings And All on the regular and um, did a Gen F on her for FADER 52 (which you can check out after the jump). Anyway, this video features lots of real basic claymation guys playing in a band and then that weird in-camera filter that the Beastie Boys used on "Watcha Want" pops up for the closing credits.





COOLIE HIGH HARMONY

Thao Nguyen's bag of delights
Story Alex Wagner
Photography Stefan Jora

There are a lot of cutesy press release-ish factoids about Thao Nguyen: she identifies with late '80s sitcom characters Denise Huxtable, Zach Morris and Uncle Jesse; she is a “borderline vegan” who fucks with brie cheese; her Vietnamese parents listened to Lionel Ritchie and Yanni while she was growing up. Yar lol etc…but Nguyen’s music doesn’t really need to be quirkified—or, for that matter, obscured behind a scrim of irony just because it happens to be one hundred percent pop loveliness. A veteran of the Northern Virginia coffee house/open mic circuit during high school, Nguyen has been peddling her wares—sunny day melodies with slyly dark lyrics—for a couple years now, and late January saw the release of her first proper album, We Brave Bee Stings and All, on a proper label (Kill Rock Stars). For the record, Nguyen isn’t bothered by the fact that she had no idea what KRS even was when founder Slim Moon first approached her about management (which is, uh, awesome?), and instead maintains a peppery optimism about all the proceedings. “I’m stoked to go on KRS,” she says. “And plus they give us hoodies.”

Bee Stings’ opening track, “Beat (Health, Life and Fire)” has a marching, proclamatory thump and Nguyen’s cloudy, saucy voice sounds like a less cathartic Chan Marshall, full of shiny penny charm. “Bag of Hammers,” the first single, trucks along with smiling strings and Nguyen’s beatboxing (more Bobby McFerrin than Rahzel) while she sings As sharp as I sting/ As sharp as I sing/ It still soothes you/ Doesn’t it? This is music for picking yourself up by the bootstraps, ending a gloomy weekend/relationship, thinking better about your enemies—the stuff of instant charmed karma. Unsurprisingly, Nguyen has already opened up stadiums for the Indigo Girls, toured with personal hero/Nonesuch star Laura Veirs, and, as she notes, “signed a boobie in London!” When we speak, she is in San Fran for a few weeks, staying with friends who brew homemade pomegranate kombucha and preparing for a life on the road. This spring will see Nguyen in Paris and Arlington and a bunch of other places in between, as she blithely hopscotches her way down a path all the lovelier for having seen her footprints.

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Gen F/Video: Thao Nguyen, “Bag Of Hammers”