Band of the Month – Benedict Benjamin
After last month saw music lovers everywhere ringing the bells for Record Store Day, Underground thought this month we would keep the merriment alive so that we remember records aren’t just for RSD but for life. And after our intimate introduction to Benedict Benjamin on this year’s RSD it only seems right to choose them to be our band of the month for May… oh and they are also releasing their second album on the 3rd of this month too.
Formerly a key player of The Mariner’s Children and Peggy Sue, Benedict Benjamin is the creation of the great mind that lives inside Ben Rubinstein. With a background in perhaps some of the finest indie-folk around, Ben is well known for serving up a slice of some good-old folk finger-plucking goodness. His most recent project Benedict Benjamin is nothing less than a display of his finery and skill at making good music. After releasing his debut album in 2016, this month sees Benedict Benjamin release a second album with a full band and some cracking childhood-photos to go along with it.
Unrefined and deliciously lathered in the deep tones of an acoustic guitar, Benedict Benjamin’s first album, Night Songs, was the perfect introduction to Ben’s ability to find a neat balance between deep and reflective lyricism with wit and flecks of salt. Catalysed by insomnia, Night Songs covers topics of wanting to be a better man, not being able to take criticism but needing to hear the truth (we’ve all been there), and just generally being dealt a shit hand in life. Yet in all his pessimism, Ben creates gems of sound which although imperfect glisten gently in through your ears like sweet nothings from a melancholic lover.
Although recorded in a series of unorthodox locations, such as churches and kitchens, Benedict Benjamin’s first album sees him snuggle in nicely next to folk figureheads such as Iron & Wine, Lucy Rose, or even Bon Iver. However, in saying this, Ben claims a lot of his inspiration isn’t necessarily always taken from the selection modern folk-rock that we have on offer now, but looks to back to his predecessors for potential lyrical paths or sound streams to follow to find his own brook to dwell in. In this pool of his creation, Ben borrows the plucking style of classic musicians such as Buddy Holly or The Everly Twins and adds a heavy-handed splash of acoustic guitar and the lyricism of a pensive blues hit to makes tracks produces numbers like ‘My Feet Have No Need for the Ground’ and ‘I Would Like to See You Tonight’.
After three years Ben is back with his newest album Truant, proving once more that only the most beautiful things come from extreme pressure. Written immediately before and after becoming a father, the album uses this new stage of life as a muse for eleven tracks. Through exploring the changes that parenthood brings to one’s life, Ben evolves his music with a full band and electric guitar overtones to see his music parallel these shifts in his life. From the end of one youth, the start of a new kind of adulthood comes into play alongside the beginning of a new life, this no doubt is a complex web of responsibilities and feelings all involved in becoming a new parent and is something Benedict Benjamin’s album indulges in.
In the lead up to the album release, the band put out three singles modelled by Ben’s own childhood photos from different stages of his life. In exposing Ben’s own adaptation to life and the trials and tribulations that comes from making somethings work that aren’t always easy, the singles set up the album’s balance between vulnerability and fun-loving sensibility. Full of charisma and charm, singles ‘The Way You Talk to Waiters’ and ‘Tell Me If You’re Lonely’ are also delightful divulgences of the band’s new style full of bass overtones and dreamy rockabilly-esque riffs, and even hooks you’d perhaps find in a Quentin Tarantino film. This new angle sees Benedict Benjamin assimilating styles from artists such as Kevin Morby or Angel Olsen and stirring them into their melting pot of indie-folk sound.
The new album ends with ‘Motherfucker’, the lovably tongue in cheek track Underground had a taster of on RSD, which finishes the album addressing “the core unit of people in my life and how much I love them” says Ben with the notion that all of us together are intrinsically ‘Motherfuckers’. Whether you choose to see the truth in this or not, this final remark is representative of Benedict Benjamin’s truly unique style and finds the listener lulled by his rhythms and humoured by his treatment of sensitive or personal topics through Ben’s sardonic and pun-fuelled lens.
Earnest and honest, Benedict Benjamin is a master at making limoncello out the lemons life throws at you and knows how exactly to relish love. Thanks to this masterful know-how, we, the listeners, get to take a dip into the pool of Ben’s creation and soak up all the different genres and layers of sound. Kicking off the month with such an opportunity as this after three years, must be foreboding of a great May to come.
And no doubt it certainly will be of Benedict Benjamin as they embark on a tour on a plethora of shows for their album release… find yourself at one of their gigs here:
Listen to the new album here:
Keep yourself up to date with all things Benedict Benjamin here:
Words by Aimee Williams-Maynard