Brendan Benson

Brendan Benson

Lapalco

Star Time Records

Brendan Benson’s sound musically personifies how a Harvey, Louisiana boy goes punk in Detroit, and then soaks up some California. Solid sturdy homegrown riffs barrel their way through usually sweet (even the few melancholic) pop/rock tunes, twisting and turning you with all the velocity but no violent jolting. Suddenly jets of thick harmony gush by gently stroking the playful melodies. Sort of like a Tilt-a-Whirl — you know you’re going to stay fairly level, but never sure when you’ll turn on a dime while you’re still swiveling in the opposite direction.

Sure it’s frolicking fun, but it’s driven and full of energy. The headbobbin’ and toetappin’ should be hard to stop through most of the album. Lots of earthy tones, and the melodies are always friendly, but more like a good friend talking to you instead of a slick commercial.

If Jellyfish would have made a third album, Brendan would probably have been the guitarist. Their first guitarist, Jason Falkner, is working with Brendan on this (as well as his first album One Mississippi) and they are certainly two sonic peas in a pod. Lapalco compares similarly to the recent demo works of Jon Brion (second guitarist for Jellyfish), or, say, a barely depressed Badfinger at their best. He seems to be the worthy but undiscovered classmate of Owsley, or even Matthew Sweet. A raucous mid-era Beatle feel. In “Folk Singer,” his girl warns him to “stop pretendin’, you’re not John Lennon,” but it’s fine with me if Brendan just keeps on pretendin’.

I got a beatup Supro Amp/I plug it in and it sounds like a Champ/It ain’t a Fender Tweed Deluxe/But it cost me a coupla hundred bucks/And it’ll always sound good to me…” And it sounds like Brendan is being very good to his amps and guitars, whichever nameplate is stuck on them. Be good to yourself and get your ears on Lapalco.

Star Time Records: http://www.startimerecords.com

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