Tuesday, January 18, 2011
A Wink and A Nod
Ben Everyman hails from Vancouver, BC via Calgary, AB and is exactly as his moniker describes, music for the everyman. It's sweet and simple without being dumbed down for the masses. Relying on wit and endless charm to carry the songs above the average acoustic act, Ben succeeds amply with both. Able to change up styles and his voice for each song, it's refreshing to not get stuck in the same cycle but instead be surprised at each new turn.
His debut Iconoplastic comes out at the beginning of 2011 and will hold up throughout the year as a formidable gem. From the first strum of the opening song "Ladeda" it's evident that Ben Everyman is more than a one trick pony. The song is simple enough but it's the lyrics that you must listen to in any song by Ben such as "all the hipster's dressed like cats" followed by more whimsical observations which lead into an abrupt hauntingly strummed repetition of the song's title with interwoven background vocals. Thus "Dead Snow" begins with a jaunty beat that has you tapping your toe from the get go. The song is a great showcase for Ben's voice and shows off his range. One would be remiss to mention that Ben Everyman's voice recalls similar artists like Mark Oliver Everett from the Eels or Lou Barlow of Sebadoh/Folk Implosion fame. Next up is "Rocknrollstar" which seems to be filled with biting, sardonic lyrics aimed at fame or maybe it's the everyman he's aiming at. You can decide who the lyrics are really aimed at.
Cleverly titled "Jesus Grew Grass (In His Garden)" is a little ditty about the lord and saviour himself partaking in the healing powers of pot and contains some great lines like "Jesus on a cross of wood, dying like he knew he would" into "Jesus grew grass in his garden, for his flock to use, and I'll bet he smoked it too". It's rare if not impossible for a songwriter to pull off lyrics like that back to back without sounding fake but not with Ben whose tall tales and stories sound genuine, as if he had lived all these lives he sings about.
"Birds' Songs" is a mellow affair that lulls one into a dream state that you don't really want to return from. The sullen background instrumentation adds to the effect and Ben's voice is as crisp as ever. Luckily if you do make it back in time for "The Girl Which Loved Her Pets" you won't regret it. A piano and acoustic driven track that tells individual stories about "the girl who kissed her friend", "the girl who sat alone" and "the girl who had no hands" to name a few. A very catchy song that sets itself apart from the songs it's preceded and followed by. Not that those songs aren't catchy, just a little more on the dark side, which also is not a bad thing cause we all know that life isn't always rainbows and sunshine.
The next and probably best (in my humble opinion) number on the album is "Don't Irritate The Bees" which seems to stick out as a heartfelt offering that strikes exactly the right chords with the listener. The chorus is effective in driving home the longing feeling stirred up by the echoed background vocals that stay with you. Again another song on the CD that benefits from background strings adding the emotional edge to an already emotive track. Finally we have "Video Game Guy" which is a lovely ditty that any guy around can relate to. If we could just escape into that video game world then all our cares and worries would seem meaningless up against saving a princess or collecting coins. Ben sums up what could be just some wishful thinking in life in general with "I will continue if I die" or just a take on video games and your endless lives in that world.
Either way that's what Ben does best is make you think about whether he's being serious or just toying with you. Definitely a collection of songs that you feel compelled to come back to because of the imagery it conjures or the smile it leaves on your face. Do yourself a favour, sit down to listen to Iconoplastic and let Ben Everyman share his witticisms with you. You won't regret it!
The video for "Dead Snow":
Check out his website for everything you need to know: