Posts Tagged ‘Ben Seretan’

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On his first album in almost four years, New York singer/songwriter Ben Seretan churns out stirring folk-rock with an impressive level of dynamism. The album highlight, “Am I Doing Right By You?” features layers of clamorous guitars and busy horns, but there are also bare passages that give way to Seretan’s hushed, introspective vocals. It’s an unpredictable thunderstorm—complete serenity one minute and ground-shaking bluster the next. With each listen, another sprinkle of intriguing, atmospheric sounds pours out, but its vast emotional capacity remains a constant.

“You will always be hungry / For something you can’t hold,” Ben Seretan sings in the opening minutes of his latest LP, an undeniably dynamic examination of how human beings seek meaning, whether in a higher power or in each other. The California-born, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter longs for community on slow-blooming opener “1 Of” [prays] to the breeze / with asphalt in his knees” on the pedal steel-accented “Power Zone” yearns to properly honour a lover and/or deity on stunning centerpiece “Am I Doing Right by You?” harmonizes with his late friend, artist Devra Freelander, on the open-hearted “Shadow” (and others); and recalls being baptized on “Holding Up the Sun.” Youth Pastoral is a stunning album that draws its power from Seretan’s Neil Young-like vocals, his evocative, soul-baring songwriting, and a rustic, reverent hum befitting of its heavenward gaze. 

A large, golden retriever puppy of a man who is frequently audibly delighted by the music that comes out of him. A secular youth pastor with high-fives at the ready who is most comfortable in cut-offs. Shreds hard, but not to show you that he can shred hard, but that life is wonderful. Proud subway commuter. Very gentle. He thanks you for listening.

Am I Doing Right by You? on Whatever’s Clever Released on: 2nd November 2020,

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Ben Seretan’s yearning delivery and earthy melodies are a little alt-country, but the songs are covered in an atmospheric indie rock haze (think Yo La Tengo or Broken Social Scene), and sometimes things can really come crashing down in a louder alternative rock kind of way (not unlike, say, early Manchester Orchestra). Ben also explores his personal relationship with Christianity throughout the album, and gospel is at least somewhat of a reference point here too. The song that auto-plays on Bandcamp is the seven and a half minute centerpiece “Am I Doing Right By You,” which is probably the obvious standout, but the whole album is great.

“Am I Doing Right By You,” the record’s seven minute centerpiece. Seretan’s vocals are wry and dry. “I could feel you pulling away from me / when I try to pray “ echoes the album titles thesis. “Am I doing right by you? Oh, my God!” is repeated many times before the track builds and bursts out into madness, showcasing Seretan’s collection of stellar collaborators. For lover’s of Stephen Malkmus, Lambchop and the like, Youth Pastoral is a litmus test for a brand of indie that is starting to pulse in the dark.

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On his first album in almost four years, New York singer/songwriter Ben Seretan makes stirring folk-rock with an impressive level of dynamism. The album highlight, “Am I Doing Right By You?” features layers of clamorous guitars and busy horns, but there are also bare passages that give way to Seretan’s hushed, introspective vocals. It’s an unpredictable thunderstorm—complete serenity one minute and ground-shaking bluster the next. With each listen, another sprinkle of intriguing, atmospheric sounds pours out, but its vast emotional capacity remains a constant.

“Am I Doing Right by You?”  Ben Seretan Whatever’s Clever
Released on: 2020-02-11

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The record is called “Solid Love”. Half of that title, at least, should be immediately apprehensible when you listen. The songs Dan Knishkowy writes and sings for Adeline Hotel are tender and frank, disarming in their commitment to treating the sweetness of love and friendship with the gravity and wonder such a subject deserves. The “solid” part might take a little longer to sink in. The band—guitarists Knishkowy and Ben Seretan, bassist Andrew Stocker, pianist Winston Cook-Wilson, drummer Sean Mullins, with a host of others joining in here and there—plays softly and spaciously, with as much emphasis on listening as on making themselves heard. The sound they conjure together is less concrete than the album title lets on: a memory of chance encounter; a few dust motes glowing in a shaft of sunlight, then drifting away from the bedroom window.

After years of releasing quasi-solo records with rotating casts of accompanists, Knishkowy assembled a settled band for the first time on Solid Love, each member of which has their own song-writing practice: “Five people with loud playing personalities, playing as quietly as possible,” as he puts it. In the un-showy intricacy of its arrangements, and in Knishkowy’s plainspoken delivery, Solid Love sometimes recalls Jim O’Rourke’s songwriter albums; in its languid gait and jazzy rhythmic elisions, it may bring to mind John Martyn. Verses blooming into choruses, chords changing with few hard distinctions between them—the songs revel in a kind of musical ambiguity that only comes when the players are intimately attuned to their companions, a looseness that seems to arrive paradoxically from deep togetherness. “‘Solid’ is less definitive, more a changing of state,” Knishkowy says. “On the verge of crystallizing, or beginning to melt away.”

Solid Love out May 8th, 2020

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