A captivating voice

LA indie rock band Babehoven beautifully delves into love and loss

By Rev. Adam McKinney on March 21, 2019

Do you remember the first time a singer's voice ever truly touched you? In my experience, growing up listening largely to pop songs from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, I mostly let everything wash over me in a great mass, very rarely tuning in specifically to hear the power behind any particular performance. In retrospect, I think I viewed pop music -- and, let's be honest, music in general -- as a faceless commodity that was available to pass the time. I never took into account the very real people who were putting their hearts and souls out there to make art.

One afternoon, for whatever reason, I listened closely to Marvin Gaye singing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine," a song I'd heard countless times before. This time, though, I heard Marvin, and the sheer, profound pain in his voice. For the first time, his desperation and heartache broke through the noise of a catchy pop song, and a switch was flipped in my head: at its best, music makes a mirror of all of life's struggles, and the best musicians let that humanity come through in their vocals. The instruments provide window dressing for a very palpable and direct emotion.

Even though I learned this lesson long ago, it's not always that I get completely drawn in and affected by a voice. Maya Bon, the lead singer and driving force behind LA indie rock band Babehoven, captivated me. The music of Babehoven is patient and pretty, with little in the way of attention-grabbing tricks and high energy shenanigans that might otherwise draw me to a band. These are simple, heartfelt songs that are elevated by Bon's effortlessly beautiful voice, projecting such strength in her lower register, and then transitioning into delicate vulnerability in her upper. The 2018 EP Sleep is comprised of songs that take their time with exploring sorrow in gorgeous tones.

I took far too long recognizing the beauty of Marvin Gaye singing of his jilted love, but Babehoven has immediately struck my heart. There's something almost old-fashioned about their songs, which languidly drift along in a manner that reminds me of the indie singer-songwriter wave of the ‘90s and early ‘00s. Stopping just short of slowcore, Babehoven builds up tension over deliberate minutes, guided along the way by Bon's expressive voice. To listen to one of their songs is to fall in or out of love, abridged.

BABEHOVEN, w/ Ancient Pools, Esprit, Martha Stax, 9 p.m., Thursday, March 28, O'Malley's Lounge, 2200 Garfield Ave. NW, Olympia, donations suggested, 360.943.8807, omalleyslounge.com


Rhythm and Rye hits its 5th anniversary this Friday. The bar and venue has really upped its game over the years, providing something noteworthy to see and hear just about every day of any week. To help Rhythm and Rye celebrate this milestone, as well as celebrate their own 15th anniversary, reggae act High Ceiling will be performing. Anticipate good vibes and a generous amount of group hugs at this one.

HIGH CEILING, 9:30 p.m., Friday, Rhythm and Rye, 311 Capitol Way N., Olympia, $10-$12, 360.705.0760

Vancouver, B.C., post-punk band Actors are a viscerally entertaining outfit, possessed of a surging energy that sometimes fails to make the leap to similarly labeled acts. On their single "Mining For Heart" (released on this past Valentine's Day), lead singer Jason Corbett sounds almost eerily like David Bowie. Elsewhere, like on the Part Time Punks Session EP, the specter of Echo and the Bunnymen is inescapable. Dark guitars and overdriven drums pervade the songs like jolts of electricity to the heart of an unexpected listener. I wish more post-punk bands could be as lively as Actors, not content to wallow in the shadows, and serving up tunes that inspire one to move.

ACTORS, w/ Sigsaly, Aqua Aura, Harsh R, 9 p.m., Thursday, March 28, Le Voyeur, 404 4th Ave. E., Olympia, $6-$8, 360.943.5710, voyeurolympia.com