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:


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Top 10 Albums of 2010

Ok ladies and gents here is the much debated over year end list. Now I'm not trying to appeal to indie hispters or anyone else for that matter by including Kanye West or anything just albums that really caught my attention over the last year. Year end lists are always a much contested affair but that's why we all have our own tastes and opinions. I encourage you to whip up a favourite's list of your own whether you choose to share it or not is up to you. The lists are always a great way for people to hear new music or rediscover something they may have let slip away. Here's my holiday treat for you and hope you enjoy:

1. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo

2. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

3. Interpol - Interpol

4. Two Door Cinema Club - Tourist History

5. The Sunshine Underground - Nobody's Coming To Save You

6. Surfer Blood - Astrocoast

7. The Drums - The Drums

8. Kings Of Leon - Come Around Sundown

9. The Besnard Lakes - ...Are The Roaring Night

10. The National - High Violet

The Coral - Butterfly House

Kula Shaker - Pilgrim's Progress

22-20s - Shake, Shiver & Moan

Detroit Social Club - Existence

Frightened Rabbit - The Winter Of Mixed Drinks

Tame Inpala - Innerspeaker

Mystery Jets - Seratonin

Klaxons - Surfing The Void

UNKLE - Where Did The Night Fall

New Young Pony Club - The Optimist

Vampire Weekend - Contra

Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest

MGMT - Congratulations

Yeasayer - Odd Blood

Gayngs - Relayted

British Sea Power - Zeus EP

The Walkmen - Lisbon

The Strange Boys - Be Brave

Salem - King Night

Foals - Total Life Forever

LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

Beach House - Teen Dream

Autolux - Transit Transit

These New Puritans - Hidden

Crocodiles - Sleep Forever

Kele - The Boxer

Clinic - Bubblegum

The Black Angels - Phospene Dream

Gorillaz - Plastic Beach

Delphic - Acolyte

Ok Go - Of The Blue Color Of The Sky

Eels - End Times

Spoon - Transference

Hot Chip - One Life Stand

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

RPA & The United Nations Of Sound - RPA & The United Nations Of Sound

Massive Attack - Heligoland

The Courteeners - Falcon

Dead Meadow - Three Kings

Wild Nothing - Gemini

Broken Bells - Broken Bells

The Whigs - In The Dark

Jonsi - Go

The Futureheads - The Chaos

Broken Social Scene - Forgiveness Rock Record

Deftones - Diamond Eyes

The Hold Steady - Heaven Is Whenever

The Dead Weather - Sea Of Cowards

Band Of Horses - Infinite Arms

The Black Keys - Brothers

Wintersleep - New Inheritors

We Are Scientists - Barbara

The Chemical Brothers - Further

Hurts - Happiness

Eels - Tomorrow Morning

Quest For Fire - Lights From Paradise

Sleepy Sun - Fever

Weezer - Hurley

Brandon Flowers - Flamingo

Belle and Sebastian - Belle and Sebastian Write About Love

Warpaint - The Fool

Fran Healy - Wreckorder

Stars - The Five Ghosts

Tricky - Mixed Race

Darker My Love - Alive As You Are

Bombay Bicycle Club - Flaws

Danger Mouse & Sparklehorse - Dark Night Of The Soul

School Of Seven Bells - Disconnect From Desire

Teenage Fanclub - Shadows

Stone Temple Pilots - Stone Temple Pilots

Born Ruffians - Say It

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Mojo

The Nix Dicksons - Giraffe EP

The Explosive Archives: Calgary Live Music. Vol. I

The May Cause - The May Cause EP

Edwyn Collins - Losing Sleep

Wolf People - Steeple

Tamaryn - The Waves

Serena Maneesh - 2: Abyss In B Minor

Red Cedar - Enter The Sun Gods

Raised By Swans - No Ghostless Place

Monster Movie - Everyone Is A Ghost

Midnight Juggernauts - The Crystal Axis

Maximum Balloon - Maximum Balloon

Kent - En Plats I Solen

Johnny Cash - American VI: Ain't No Grave

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Hawk

The Hotrats - Turn Ons

Hollerado - Record In A Bag

Good Shoes - No Hope, No Future

Engineers - In Praise Of More

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster

The Cinematics - Silent Scream EP

Cherry Ghost - Beneath This Burning Shoreline

The Brian Jonestown Massacre - Who Killed Sgt. Pepper

Blood Red Shoes - Fire Like This

Black Mountain - Wilderness Heart

The Bees - Every Step's A Yes

The Automatic - Tear The Signs Down 

Titus Andronicus - The Moniter

Admiral Radley - I Heart California

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - III/IV

The Orb Featuring David Gilmour - Metallic Spheres

Free Energy - Stuck On Nothing

Exit Calm - Exit Calm

Mogwai - Special Moves