Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leaving The Nest

For the last couple of weeks I've been listening to an advance copy of Leaving The Nest, a new album from Benjy Ferree. Hipster UK indie label Domino Recording Co.'s US branch are set to release the record on November 7th. A bit of bio...

Raised in an vigorously religious but musical family, Benjy was inspired at an impressionable age by Will Oldham: not to rock, but to act, thanks to young Will's performance in John Sayles' Matewan, a movie based on flesh and blood (The Hatfields of that famous familial squabble, if you must know). After high school, he moved straight to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career, supporting himself in a variety of service industry jobs (including a stint as an au pair during which he crossed paths with David Lynch, but, more like, David Lynch's kids). Frustrated with his experiences there, Benjy returned to The Potomac Basin. While bartending at The Black Cat in DC, he was befriended by Brendan Canty (Fugazi), amongst many others, who encouraged him to focus instead on the songs he'd been writing for his own personal enjoyment. What you have here are the fruits of that encouragement and those life experiences, with a surefooted timelessness in an era of trends being cycled and recycled through at an exhausting speed.

My take on the record is simple - it's pretty good. It is scruffy, down home indie rock that is infused with flavor. Vocally he reminds me of a cross between Jack White, Jeff Tweedy and Marc Bolan. All of their flavors are also present in the music - swampy leftfield blues a la the White Stripes, the experimental, plaintive roots rock of Wilco and the glammy stomp of T.Rex are all here. It is a nice mix of styles and sounds and hooky melodies that have grown on me quite a bit. The Desert has as a lovely fiddled melody and some nice twangy guitar. The title track Leaving the Nest (It's A Long Way Down) kicks off with a bit of George Harrison slide guitar before settling into a swampy groove with a great catchy chorus. Great stuff.

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