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Ben Kweller
by Jeremy at 11:41 pm EST, Feb 15, 2005

You should check out Ben Kweller.

From the mini-review on Rhapsody:

Ben Kweller mixes Beck, the Pixies and Jonathan Richman into an odd-but-endearing sound overflowing with attitude.

Kweller is a new school indie rock singer-songwriter who draws comparisons to Matthew Sweet, Beck, and Elliott Smith all in one breath. Kweller lives in an alternate universe where influences like Sonic Youth and Ben Folds can coexist peacefully.

At his best, Kweller sounds like a cross between Jonathan Richman and Brian Wilson, but having said that he also sounds a little like Paul Simon too, if you envision that. The good news is, Kweller manages his influences in such a way as to expand on them, rather than engaging in empty imitation. The result is inescapably enjoyable indie pop with great drum sounds every time out.

For his latest album, "On My Way", his adolescent-like delivery skims the lean, stripped-down surface of his music, creating space for his poignant lyrics. Start with "Hear Me Out," "Different But the Same," and "I Need You Back."

From the All Music Guide:

Enthusiasm is what Ben Kweller brings to his work; his Ramones-like perennial goofy-teenager attitude and lack of antipathy are his golden attributes; combine that with a keen songwriting sense and you've got a pop powerhouse.

Over the course of 11 songs on "Sha Sha", he plays acoustic, folk-rock, alternative, power pop, and straight-ahead rock; his lyrics are consistently heart-sung but they aren't lite.

Kweller isn't afraid to wear his top-drawer influences on his sleeve, either: "No Reason" soars on guitar like a Frank Black tune and he sings "noooooo reason to cry" with the same vehemence with which Johnny Rotten sang "nooooo future."

On the follow-on album, "On My Way", a somewhat more mature approach is contrasted and balanced by Kweller's voice, which still sounds charmingly, vulnerably adolescent as he ventures further into his twenties. Best of all are the power pop-influenced songs, which are urgent, plaintive, and funny at the same time.

Six of his songs are available for free download (in MP3 format).

"On My Way"

I want to kill this man but he turned around and ran.
I'll kill him with karate that I learned in Japan.
He wouldn't see my face. I wouldn't leave a trace.
I wouldn't use a bullet cause a bullet's a disgrace.

Aw, mom, I never thought that I was a murdering man
but tonight I'm on my way.

"My Apartment"

Sometimes I wish I had a farm
where the only pollution is your cigarettes,
where your mind is clear.
But I like it here in my small space.
New York's the place where the sidewalks know my face
as I walk to

my apartment, the home where I hide
away from all the darkness outside.
I'm there all the time.

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