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Kill Rock Stars

Know Better Learn Faster

by Thao with the Get Down Stay Down

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“The album is named ‘Know Better Learn Faster’ because you can’t,” explains Thao. “By the time you realize you should, it’s too late. And I enjoy the predicament and the totally devastating, unfunny humor of that.”

Thao and the ever-versatile Get Down Stay Down (Adam Thompson on bass, keys and additional guitar, and Willis Thompson on drums and percussion) return with the follow up to their critically lauded and riotously applauded previous album, “We Brave Bee Stings and All”, the breakout success and best-selling record of 2008 for Kill Rock Stars. With super-producer and friend Tucker Martine (The Decemberists, Bill Frisell, Spoon) again at the helm, Know Better Learn Faster perfectly captures the band as their more mature, tastefully raucous, tastefully subdued and musically adventurous selves. Honed, trimmed and tightened over the last year and a half of constant touring, the now-trio delivers Thao’s cleverly crafted and emotionally evocative songs with vibrant, innovative instrumentation, incredible energy and a still-acutely-solid sense of what sounds good. The new batch of songs spans all genres and influences, all the while staying faithful to their distinct style, sharp wit, and the infectious and enamoring exuberance of their renowned live shows.

But the band can be serious too. Know Better Learn Faster is in many ways a boisterous, frenzied, and resigned break-up record, and with that territory comes a few songs wherein Thao does not employ her trademark method of juxtaposing brighter melodies with melancholic content. “A few of these are just straightforwardly sad. Sometimes there’s not much room to mince words and music when you feel like shit,” she says.

The diverse and wide-ranging songwriting only helps to showcase the trio’s formidable musicianship: all members have stepped up and expanded their repertoires to fill out the trio’s sound. To further help the cause, the band was thrilled and humbled to enlist album guests Andrew Bird, Eric Earley of Blitzen Trapper, Laura Veirs, Horse Feathers, Steve Berlin of Los Lobos, Jenny Conlee of The Decemberists, and close friend and new 4AD artist Tune-Yards.

Know Better Learn Faster is a deeply felt, honestly rendered audit of the end of one or any number of relationships. Thao says: “We are thankful for the opportunity to have explored and then purged all crippling tensions and anxiety inherent in such dramas and hope you enjoy the scrappy by-product.”


“Packs a subtle punch, sweet but not sappy.” - Spin

“Elliptical lyrics, bright guitar work.” - The Wall Street Journal

“Worn down by the endless pitfalls of romance? Thao Nguyen most definitely is not.” – Time Out New York

"Like tea and honey spiked with a healthy shot of whiskey.” – Elle


released October 13, 2009


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Thao with the Get Down Stay Down Falls Church, Virginia

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Track Name: The Clap
IF this is how you want it
Ok, ok, ok
Track Name: Cool Yourself
Cool yourself
You are flush red
Your ankles make you twist cause the truth made you bend
But oh goddamn
If you wanted it you would
I will not ask anymore
I cannot ask anymore
I will love you like this now
You can recognize it later
But I would never blame you
If you would never stay here
Track Name: When We Swam
When we swam our love to pieces
We washed up on messy beaches
You cleaned dry
I would not drift yet
I should drink salt water to forget
Oh why, oh why, oh why
Won't you sing
Bring your hips to me
Oh bring your hips to me
Well once I arrived
But you would not receive me
I wanted it all
You could not tell
Then I paid expensive attention to detail
The fall of your face
The wish of the well
The rush of the push
The length of the spell
And you won't
Bring your hips to me
Oh bring your hips to me
You tug so lightly on me
Work like you are on vacation
While I was swept wide
I wept for you across the nation
All my love I do deny
When they place their hands
On both my sides
Track Name: Know Better Learn Faster
I can't do the real thing
I hurt all my feelings
You gotta keep it kind
You make it a mean while
What a shameful way to be the same
But I need you to be
Better than me
And you need me to do
Better than you
I disarm you in the morning
I was up in arms all night
And now it counts
I am too, too sleepy to fight
Know Better
Learn Faster
Track Name: Body
What am I just a body in your bed
Won't you reach for the body in your bed
We were the loved ones
Sworn up and down upon
You, you are a dead man
I just have to shoot the gun
What about the future of your vision
With the stare and glare of handsome men and women
It's good to see you, it's too good to see you
What am I just a body in your bed
Won't you reach for the body in your bed
I have been just a body in your bed
Won't you reach for the body in your bed
Track Name: The Give
Who will run my family business
I leave it mostly unfinished
Why can't I
My oldest is getting married
My youngest can barely bare me
Alive. Live Live Live.
Oh sweet girl remember this:
The saddest ones cannot resist
They'll keep you if you fall for it
But I promise they will never notice
Now I am a gentleman, a gentleman
I taught you how the water moves
Of course I love you a little bit, a little bit
And that does more than I can do
I admit everything you know
An aimless man with places to go
Again. Again.
What gives. Give it to me.
Track Name: Good Bye Good Luck
We all wrote you songs
We know you like to choose
We asked our lovers to break us
So we could be of use
Good bye good luck
They said
Good bye good luck
So here we come
We have sad sex
We move steady to forget
We swear upon our happening lives
We mined
We bared
We hoped you cared
We agreed to see you next time
They said
Young hearts, you must be different
Not for us, but next time
We don't have strength or patience to hold you
Take care with your neck and your spine
Take care with your neck and your spine
And good luck and good bye
Track Name: Trouble Was For
Everybody please put your clothes back on
We must see what the trouble was for
And everybody needs sugar from your mouth
But I'll take none for me
I was late
You've run out
Come back, come back, cause I got smart
In the time you took to get this far
A fight so old
Its body complains
I come back cause the punches always hit the same
Not for the world
Would we fall in the way
Of a fight so old
Track Name: Oh. No.
Hey little one
What do you think you've done
Good ones are going
Best one is gone
Why don't you take it
Where they give it
What makes you think you would
When you didn't
Oh. No.
I meant to come home to you
I meant to stay
I never said what I meant
Now I make my living take me away
Oh. No.
Track Name: Fixed It!
Since you left I'm only more sincere
I swim in it
Authentic to my ears
But we made it
Won't we save it
And I fixed it
What you hated
Come on
I'll keep it to myself
If I can't sell you some
I'll tell you sober truth
In my sleepy tone
Make sure to be sure are you done with me
I can prove it so your pretty eyes can see
I fall upon my only knees
Recall last time how you were pleased
I'll go with valor everywhere
I will lay so still when you're not there
How about now?
I'll keep it to myself
If I can't sell you some
I'll tell you the sober truth
In my sleepy tone
But I fixed it!
Track Name: Burn You Up
I try so hard
I give up so violently
I don't know how
I still could go so quietly
You want to go home
You won't take me too
Oh what I lovely start
Oh how I mishandled you
But don't you think we came close
Don't you want to come home with me
But I remember the most
Don't you want a new memory
I will wait the winter long
I think I could burn you up
Quick to taste cause you never know
I think I could burn you up
Track Name: But What Of The Strangers
This is what strangers do
I want no part
I kiss your ears with the truth
How could it hurt so hard
But what did we decide
What can strangers decide
I'd take you to the cinema
We'd share our love and grief
I would be serious, I could be serious
You would be sweet
But oh. What of this desert between
What then of the strangers
What then of us
Hand to chest
How could we forget
Track Name: Easy
I know the stories of those before me
You have so much information
But you only know why not
How come, how come
Look at all the time they got
Before me
I make it easy, easy to stop
I'll make it easy, easy enough
But don't you let me see you weigh the worth
I don't get to leave cause you left first
So don't you let me see you weigh the worth
Before me
I make it easy, easy to stop
Are you gonna keep it easy, easy or what

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