Posts Tagged ‘Brendan Benson’

 

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Brendan Benson is one of American’s best songwriters. Sure, he might not be the best-selling, but in terms of sheer melodies crafted, lyrics excelled, and wonderful songs released he’s up there with the greatest. Back in April, Brendan Benson unveiled his latest set of tracks away from The Raconteurs, with whom he serves as co-songwriter along with Jack White. Benson discussus his first solo LP in seven years, as well as the emerging live streaming industry in the wake of the then-novel coronavirus.

His last single ‘Half A Boy (And Half A Man)’ manages to shuffle reflective masculinity into a three minute country-tinged power pop song and make it work. Immaculately conceived, ‘Half A Boy…‘ is driven by acoustic guitar chords and crunching lead overdubs, but at heart its a gentle beast.

A tale of split personalities, Shot from Brendan Benson’s home studio in Nashville, TN.

Made this with my friend Brad from The Whirlwind Heat. Back in the day, I engineered their album “Do Rabbits Wonder”. Little known fact.  Dear Life is out now on Third Man Records.

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The Raconteurs have announced a forthcoming documentary and live album to both titled, “Live At Electric Lady”, with both projects scheduled to arrive this Friday, May 29th.

Live At Electric Lady will document The Raconteurs’ clandestine performance at the iconic New York recording studio in support of the band’s most recent album, 2019’s Help Us Stranger. The EP will be released exclusively to Spotify, and will feature like takes on a catalogue-spanning selection of songs, including a cover of Richard Hell & The Voidoids“Blank Generation”. The documentary, directed by filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, will include video of the live performance, along with interviews with the band and behind-the-scenes footage.

A Facebook post announcing Live At Electric Lady arrived with a one-minute video trailer and a pre-save link for the “special enhanced album.” The trailer offered snippets of artist interviews and the live performance as well as a cameo from Jarmusch, who noted that the Electric Lady is “Kind of a magical, mythical place.”

“Everyone who’s a musician on stage is doing something that they love and they’re trying to share it with someone else,” added frontman Jack White in the trailer. “Some people fall in the trap of it being about authenticity, but I don’t think it’s about that. I think it’s about the attitude of what you did was the best part. Not whether you got all the notes right, but your point of what you were trying to accomplish was evidence to us in the crowd.”

In September 2019, The Raconteurs visited legendary New York City recording studio Electric Lady Studios to record a live EP and interview with Jim Jarmusch in honor of the studios’ 50th Anniversary – exclusively for Spotify. ‘The Raconteurs: Live at Electric Lady’ is a documentary and concert film showcasing the day, including their explosive 7-song live performance

Watch the Live at Electric Lady trailer.

It’s 4:20 p.m., Central Time, and Brendan Benson is a little nervous. He’s been practicing and is about to go live for whoever will listen. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Benson was preparing to release his seventh album, “Dear Life”Instead, he’s home in Nashville,  Coincidentally, Benson does feel like he’s trapped in some sort of illusory, encapsulated dream, but “Boy in a Bubble” is the moniker for his Instagram Live series, an essential reprieve from the coronavirus lockdown.

“It’s something to do every day and something to prepare for,” says Benson. “A lot of times, I have to pick the song and learn it, and I get nervous, so it’s a kind of whole arc to my day. It’s a great way to break up the day and the monotony. If I didn’t have this, I think I’d be going fucking crazy.”

Benson, founding guitarist and co-writer for the Jack White–led troupe The Raconteurs, hasn’t gone stir crazy (yet) thanks to IG live—broadcasting with special guests or just going solo—but being home with his seven-year-old daughter Adeline and nine-year-old son Declan has its challenges. He’s living through what most parents are facing during the shut-in. “The rest of my family are going crazy,” says Benson. “Kids need your attention twenty-four hours a day from the second you wake up—like, before you wake up. We’re doing OK, though. It’s a good chance for us to get closer.”

Playing tracks off Dear Life, as well as older songs—even leaving his 1996 debut One Mississippi open for more exploration—Benson is just warming up for when life gets back to normal and he can tour again. His first release since 2013’s You Were Right, Dear Life is Benson’s transfixion on domestic life, relationships, and the realization of his mortality. For nearly five years, Benson was hanging on to Dear Life since he started writing it. Then, The Raconteurs had regrouped, and he stepped back into the band’s third album and first in eleven years Help Us Stranger in 2019. “I stopped, I did The Raconteurs album, but I was really anxious to get this record out,” says Benson. “Then, this fucking virus hits.”

The road leading to the album has had its U-turns and swerves. It was even birthed from a complete upheaval of Benson’s Readymade Studios, which he started in 2012. When he was forced to vacate the studio after the building where it was housed was sold and converted into a parking lot, Benson was forced to pack up all of his equipment and put it in storage. Left without a place to record, he created a makeshift studio in his home, at first experimenting without guitar and drums and more software and drum machines, which all have their place on Dear Life, dusted over sharp riffs and penetrating lyrics on the knowns and unknowns in life.

Sequenced by Jack White, Dear Life drives down a winding road of reflection—good and bad, fear or moments of tranquility—that only Benson could steer, from frenetic opener “I Can If You Want Me To” to the more elevated “Good to Be Alive.”

Reflecting on family life, “Richest Man,” which received an animated video treatment by New York cartoonist Michael Wartella, Benson confronts his fear of dying as matter-of-factly as he can singing “I gave you your name, but you gave me my life … And after I’m gone, you’ll carry on / And then you’ll have a family of your own.” Exploring domesticity and the delicacy of life, Benson covers all corners of emotion, gently crooning the title track through airy “Baby’s Eyes,” the latter the only Dear Life track that features a co-writer and outside musicians, including Dynamites drummer Jon Radford, and on to a more enraged “Freak Out.”

Opening up about family, life, and death is also something new for Benson, but it’s been lingering on his mind more since having children. “I don’t think I ever thought much about my mortality, so it’s kind of come as a shock I guess,” he says. “When my kids were born, I think, is when I started to fear death. I started getting afraid of leaving them. I was just confronted all of a sudden with, ‘Holy shit, I’m not going to be here forever.’ Your kids keep growing up and they keep getting older. I’m seeing it and I’m like, ‘Stop!’”

He jokes that he’s aging slowly, but there’s still a nostalgia as he gets older. It’s something Benson, now 49, just can’t shake. “When you have a family, you start thinking about life and death and what happens when you leave,” he says. “I think it’s something that I’m still thinking about. It’s something that is new to me as well.”

Departing from the core subjects, “Evil Eyes” confronts a plethora of toxic relationships. “Let’s just say it’s a composite,” says Benson. “Maybe it’s different people—not necessarily all female, or a girlfriend, either.” On “I Quit,” Benson borrows from Peggy Lee’s melancholy 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?” “It’s sort of an homage, but otherwise it’s just one of those songs that kind of came out exactly as you hear it,” says Benson. “There are no chord changes. It’s just, like, three chords over and over, and lyrics that are sort of improv or freestyle, and impromptu.” Generally, songs evolve over time for Benson since he says he’s not fully cognizant when he’s writing. “I think I’m half conscious when I’m writing songs,” he says. “It’s not like consciousness. It’s like I’m speaking in tongues. It’s not some sort of, like, meditative state where I’m channeling or tapping into my deepest feelings, and I understand it, and I can sort of transcribe it in this poetic way. It’s mostly meandering thoughts.”

Song meanings tend to come later on. It’s as if he’s unconsciously confessing or revealing things as he goes along. “What’s interesting about this record is that when I look back on it, having been so out of it while writing it, it’s all really kind of focused,” says Benson. “It turns out it’s a lot about life and death and family, you know, so I did it sort of unconsciously.”

Writing for himself is one thing. He’s acclimated to his own, internal cacophony of fragmented words and melodies. Unconscious or not, it’s his own sinuous process. He’s tried working the Nashville co-writing thing but says he’s not that good at it. “I don’t think people are using producers really anymore, so it just doesn’t pay the bills,” says Benson. “I kind of screwed myself, because I left my solo career by the wayside.”

Writing for The Raconteurs is another thing. “We’re meant to write together,” says Benson. “It’s easy. We don’t talk about it. We don’t analyze it. We just know what sounds good, or cool, like, ‘Oh yeah, that sounds like it belongs in the song.’ [Jack] understands when I go meandering, and he gets it.” Now, Benson has a record he wants everyone to hear. “I’m having to start over,” he says. “The Raconteurs helps a little, but it doesn’t help as much as people think, because people don’t know me from The Raconteurs. They know Jack. Brendan Benson is not a household name.”

It’s also Benson’s first album on Third Man Recordings, which he says was a “no-brainer.” He’s not sure why he never worked with White’s label prior to Dear Life, but admits he may have been too proud to ask. “I didn’t want to ride his coattails, but it just makes sense now, because there are no labels left,” says Benson. “And he’s really good at it.”

Benson is ready for Dear Lifeand admits that he hasn’t felt this proud of one of his albums since 2002’s LapalcoI think I made it for all the right reasons,” he says. “Those reasons were just for the fun of it, and the enjoyment of it, and the therapy of it—not because I had to contractually, or because it was expected, or that it’s been too long since my last record. It just comes straight from the heart.”

In the meantime, as he waits for the world to open back up, he’ll remain a Boy in a Bubble.

“It keeps me sharp,” says Benson of his ongoing IG Live sessions. “Usually when I go on tour I have to learn a bunch of new songs, or ones that I’ve forgotten. This way, I’m kind of just keeping them fresh. When we get out of this, whenever this is over, or when things open up and we get out of jail five years from now, I’ll be ready.”

Dear Life

“There’s something about this record,” Benson says, describing his Third Man Records debut album “Dear Life”. “A friend of mine called it ‘life-affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.”

Brendan Benson finds himself in an enviable spot as he enters the third decade of a remarkably creative, consistently idiosyncratic career – an accomplished frontman, musician, songwriter, producer, band member, husband, and dad. Benson’s seventh solo album, and first new LP in almost seven years, “Dear Life” is this consummate polymath’s most inventive and upbeat work thus far, an 11- track song cycle about life,  love, family, fatherhood, and the pure joy of making music.

Produced and almost entirely performed by Benson at his own Readymade Studio in Nashville, the album sees the Michigan-born, Nashville-based artist – and co-founder, with Jack White, of The Raconteurs – reveling in a more modernist approach than ever before, fueled by a heady brew of cannabis, hip-hop, and a newly discovered interest in software drum programming.

The result is an untapped playfulness that elevates expertly crafted songs like the opener, “I Can If You Want Me To,” and the first  single, “Good To Be Alive,” with voluble arrangements, elastic grooves, and incandescent power. Imbued with revitalized ambition and confidence, DEAR LIFE is Brendan Benson at his very best.

Raconteurs FAME

The Raconteurs perform “Now That You’re Gone” from their latest album “Help Us Stranger” and a cover of “I’m Your Puppet” at the historic FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL.

“I’m Your Puppet” was written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, both members of the acclaimed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section group of session players — also called The Swampers — that originated at FAME. The song was a hit in 1966 for James & Bobby Purify. The Raconteurs – Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler – included “Now That You’re Gone” on their recently released studio album.

Jack White’s been so commonly associated with rock ‘n’ roll over the years that it’s been easy to overlook the fact that he often works similar to how dance producers do. For starters, there’s nothing more explicitly tied to how dance music operates than running your own label to put out releases from yourself and others — and more broadly, since emerging at the turn of the century with his and Meg White’s beloved, now defunct White Stripes, White’s dipped in and out of various projects that more or less function as monikers under which he explores certain sounds.

White unearths or returns to these projects when the mood suits him, and they often bear their own distinct sonic identity. Besides the White Stripes’ arty blues-punk, he’s unleashed jet-black scuzziness with the Kills’ Alison Mosshart as the Dead Weather, embraced an anything-goes mentality with the music released under his own name, and tilted towards country-rock windmills with power-pop whiz Brendan Benson and members of defunct Detroit garage-rock act the Greenhornes as the Raconteurs.

White’s choosing to unearth this month a new Raconteurs’ album the bands third, “Help Us Stranger”. It’s the first album from the group in 11 years and barring the fact that it’s been nigh impossible to predict the machinations behind White’s own creative internal clock, the timing for him to return to more straightforward rock territory is impeccable.

White has effectively split the difference between his last solo album Boarding House Reach’s adventurousness and the band’s past trad-classic rock trappings, the results coming across as appealingly low-stakes. After a series of solo albums that, even at their strongest moments, possessed a nervy atmosphere not unlike grinding one’s teeth, Help Us Stranger is comparatively loose and limber, making for the most collection of songs White’s released in years.

Credit is due to Benson, who  as with 2006’s Broken Boy Soldiers and the 2008 quick-turnaround Consolers of the Lonely shares writing credits with White on almost every Help Me Stranger track. Just like Consolers, the sole song he doesn’t is a cover; this time around it’s a rollicking take on psych-pop shaman Donovan’s “Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness).” But That’s pretty much the only element that Help Me Stranger shares with Consolers; while the latter sagged from an overlong run time, the Raconteurs’ latest is a comparatively lean and mean 41 minutes, with brisk arrangements and more than a few grin-inducing breakdowns such as the double-time frenzy that closes out the boys-in-the-band opener “Bored And Razed.”

There’s a distinctly stoned silliness to parts of Help Me Stranger, none more evident than on the “Misty Mountain Hop”-ping “Only Child,” in which White sings about a “prodigal son” who’s “come back home again to get his laundry done.” Otherwise, the playfulness streaked across this album is mostly of the musical variety, like the multi-tracked vocals dotting the verse structure on “Don’t Bother Me” or the Tell-tale Heart-esque pulse that courses through “Now That You’re Gone.” There are guitar solos packed into nearly every empty corner of this thing, and plenty of the aggressively hammered piano lines that were so prevalent on Boarding House Reach, the latter playing much more enjoyably to the ears than on that record.

Suffice to say, if none of these sonic elements or the idea of four guys bashing out melodic rock music that nonetheless treads familiar ground — sound appealing to you, then you’re probably better off listening to nearly anything else. But the lack of formal innovation on Help Me Stranger packs its own odd appeal, especially when the old tricks are so capably performed. “Live A Lie” is straight-ahead Motor City garage rock that, ironically, bears some resemblance to once-White nemesis the Von Bondies’ “C’mon C’mon”; the guitar riff that kicks open on “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying)” recalls Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Happy Gilmore-closing “Tuesday’s Gone,” its midsection breaking into a gooey Beatles-esque breakdown.

Such callbacks to classic rock’s, er, classics inevitably bring to mind Greta Van Fleet, that shaggy-haired band of industry-beloved youngsters who’ve gained equal parts fame and critical consternation for joylessly regurgitating the entire Led Zeppelin catalog But there’s nothing that White and Benson have cooked up on Help Me Stranger that sounds like genre-reliant clock-punching; instead, they make playing around in the classic-rock sandbox sound like so much fun that you have to wonder why it took them eleven years to get back in the habit together. Hopefully, next time around they’ll make a point of getting together again sooner.

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Released June 21st, 2019 ,
2019, 2019 Third Man Records, LLC

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Jack White and Brendan Benson of the Raconteurs admitted they couldn’t pinpoint when the band got back together – but recalled that their first show in eight years had been a “rough” affair that nevertheless left them feeling “exhilarated.”

White, Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler hit the stage together bck in April to mark the the 10th anniversary of White’s label Third Man Records. They later confirmed a North American tour to promote their new album, “Help Us Stranger”, which is released on June 21st.

The reunion appears to have been fueled by White’s creation of the song “Shine the Light on Me,” which he felt didn’t work with any other project he had and sounded like a Racounteurs track. “Just the mention of it – The Raconteurs – jolted me a bit,” Benson said in a new interview. “And then a couple years passed.”

White remembered taking “baby steps” towards any kind of reunion, and also that a full album had never been part of the plan. “The first step for any act in that position would be to have some kind of meeting with a manager and plan out your whole year, like, ‘Hey, we’re going to make an album and tour and start booking festival dates,’ and you haven’t even recorded a song yet,” he reported. “You could very easily fall into those traps in the music business if you’re not careful. So we just got together a couple times and said, ‘Let’s see what happens.’ … but the songs came out really fast and that was a great sign.”

With the new LP in the can, the band regrouped for the Third Man show. “It was a little rough,” Benson said, noting that it was also the first time he’d performed sober in the group. “But it felt good. It was just one of those moments where afterward, we were all very exhilarated and stoked about the future.” That led to more shows and then the North American tour. “We don’t sit around and discuss a plan; we just roll with it,” he added. “We just do what we do – for better or for worse.”

their forthcoming album “HELP US STRANGER” – out June 21st.

Jack White and Brendan Benson’s group The Raconteurs are hitting the road for the first time in years, and are dropping their first album in over a decade “Help Us Stranger” this coming June. The Grammy-winning Nashville based powerhouse teased fans in December with two tracks from the record, and have now they have unveiled a third cut ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)‘, a punchy reimagining of Scottish psychedelic folk singer Donovan‘s 1965 song. The Raconteurs‘ rendition inserts a heavy dose of garage punk heft into the tune, while retaining the stripped back original’s lusty soul. enjoy their cover of ‘Hey Gyp (Dig The Slowness)’ version below…

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released April 10th, 2019
2019, 2019 Third Man Records, LLC

The Raconteurs have announced a new album, “Help Us Stranger”, It’s their first new album in 11 years, since their 2008-released second album, Consolers of the Lonely. “Help Us Stranger” is due out June 21st via Third Man Recordings. No new music accompanies the album announcement, but it includes the remixed and remastered versions of two songs the band shared back in December: “Sunday Driver” and “Now That You’re Gone”.

The band features Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler. The Raconteurs formed in 2005 and released their debut album, Broken Boy Soldiers, in 2006. Lawrence and Keeler were also in The Greenhornes and Lawrence has also played with White in The Dead Weather. Benson is known as a solo artist and of course so is White, who released a new solo album, Boarding House Reach, in 2018 via Third Man and Columbia. The band is known as The Saboteurs in Australia, due to another band down under named The Raconteurs.

Jack White and Brendan Benson wrote all the tracks, except for “Hey Gyp (Dig the Slowness),” which is a Donovan cover. The Raconteurs produced the album, which was recorded at Third Man Studio in Nashville, TN, and engineered by Joshua V. Smith. Vance Powell and The Raconteurs mixed the album at Blackbird Studios in Nashville. The album also features keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Dean Fertita (The Dead Weather, Queens of the Stone Age), as well as Lillie Mae Rische and her sister Scarlett Rische.

A special Third Man Vault edition of the album will include the album on 180-gram marble vinyl and a 7-inch featuring early demo recordings of “Help Me Stranger” and “Somedays (I Don’t Feel Like Trying),” as well as a Raconteurs bandana designed by Keeler and an exclusive Raconteurs slip mat.

The Raconteurs Announce First New Album in 11 Years, “Help Us Stranger” Due Out June 21 via Third Man Reordings.

Listen to The Raconteurs' New Songs, "Sunday Driver" and "Now That You're Gone"

The band’s first new singles in over a decade are off an as-of-yet-untitled new album, The Raconteurs have shared two new songs (and accompanying music videos), “Sunday Driver” and “Now That You’re Gone,” off their as-of-yet-unnamed forthcoming album, due out in 2019 through Jack White’s Third Man Records.

The songs mark the first new music from the band in over a decade. Their last album, Consolers of the Lonely, came out in 2008. New music from the band was first teased back in October by Third Man, and today’s new tracks were previously made available in physical form to subscribers of the label’s Vault series as part of a special edition anniversary re-release of Consolers.

“We’re knee deep in the trenches of our first new album in a decade,” White is quoted as telling Mojo Magazine in a press release. “We have a vast amount of genre-pushing songs that bridge the gap between Detroit and Nashville rock and roll. The album sounds like a World War. It’s great to be co-writing songs with Brendan Benson again, the man is a song craftsman.”

“Sunday Driver” was directed by Steven Sebring – acclaimed photographer, filmmaker, inventor, and vanguard in artistic 3D imaging – and captured at the Sebring Revolution Media Lab in New York City.

Music video for “Sunday Driver” by The Raconteurs. New double A-side single also featuring “Now That You’re Gone”

“The video is a very rock and roll approach to the wide range of emotions a person goes through when dealing with a broken heart. Feelings of being weak, angry, vengeful and ultimately the strength to overcome and “crash” through it all. I had such a lovely time collaborating with such wonderful artists and people.”