The Bird and the Bee, Getting Buzz

The Bird and the Bee are yet another Los Angeles guy-gal musical duo. But this time there's a little nectar behind the buzz.

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DAVID WAS: The Bird and the Bee is the name of yet another Los Angeles guy/gal musical duo. But this time there's a little nectar behind the buzz.

(Soundbite of music)

Ms. INARA GEORGE (The Bird and the Bee): (Singing) I put my hand up to my face.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

It's musician and DAY TO DAY contributor David Was with a review on an album that's just been released this week.

WAS: Hoards of talented keyboardists like Greg Kurstin are ever on the lookout for comely singer-songwriters like Inara George. But rarely do these backroom duos see the light of commercial day.

(Soundbite of song)

WAS: Defining that paradigm, the group's self-titled debut album on Blue Note imprint Metro Blue might even usurp a little attention from Nora Jones's new record on the same label.

(Soundbite of song)

Ms. GEORGE: (Singing) Don't take my, don't take my picture. Don't, don't, don't take my picture.

WAS: These two postmodern whippersnappers have talent to spare, and it could have genetic origins. Inara is the daughter of the late Little Feat frontman Lowell George and can lay claim that the charismatic DNA that made daddy a star before his untimely passing when she was but five years old. Inara's most potent recollection is of him giving her candy while mom wasn't looking.

(Soundbite of music)

WAS: Greg Kurstin doesn't have a famous daddy but he does have a venerable jazz pianist as his former mentor. The noted Charles Mingus band alumnist Jackie Bayard(ph) gave him a leg-up on other studio wizards with some real jazz chops and a unique sonic sensibility.

(Soundbite of song)

WAS: Kurstin had lent his production and writing talents to records by Beck and the Flaming Lips. He plays nearly all of the music on this album, aided by copious digital editing and processing.

(Soundbite of song)

WAS: Put him and Inara in a room together, as happened a couple of years ago, and what else? The self-confessed nerds started playing standards. When they finally ran out, they started creating new material together, and the chemistry proved potent. They began writing, as Kurstin puts it, psychedelic Burt Bacharach songs like "Because."

(Soundbite of song, "Because")

WAS: With percolating computer beats underlying vintage organ rifts, and Inara's Astrud Gilberto-like whisperings. To me, it sounds like the British triphoppers Portishead did a musical Vulcan mind meld with Richard and Karen Carpenter.

(Soundbite of song)

WAS: Add to that Inara's ironical, sometimes heartfelt takes on the vagaries of romance and Kurstin's ability to quote Brian Wilson-style harmonies and you get a song like "I'm a Broken Heart," where she complains that all of her moments have just become ailments.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm a Broken Heart")

WAS: The lilting lyricism leavens the downbeat sentiment and all this froth and playfulness.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm a Broken Heart")

WAS: The later quality comes from making an album without a conscious ear cocked toward the marketplace. The Bird and The Bee feels like pop music made for its own sake. But it may actually find a place on the charts in spite of itself.

(Soundbite of song, "I'm a Broken Heart")

BRAND: Music from the duo, The Bird and The Bee. Our reviewer, David Was, from the duo Was (Not Was).

(Soundbite of song, "I'm a Broken Heart")

Ms. GEORGE: (Singing) I'm a broken heart. I'm a broken heart. I'm a broken heart.

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