Guitarist and songwriter Benjamin Booker makes stripped down garage rock that goes back to the most basic elements; he's backed up only with drums from Max Norton, and makes rapid, blink-and-you'll-miss-them rock songs that feel like they last as long as Robert Pollard makes them. Booker claims to be influenced by old school punk bands like Gun Club and T. Rex, although when he throws in a solo, his sound is also reflective of Rough Trade alumni the Strokes and newer garage professors like Ty Seagall. His self-titled debut is well-produced raucousness.
Tracks:Violent Shiver Always Waiting Chippewa Slow Coming Wicked Waters Have You Seen My Son? Spoon Out My Eyeballs Happy Homes I Thought I Heard You Scream Old Hearts Kids Never Growing Older By The Evening
LP £14.99 RTRADLP720
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CD £7.99 RTRADCD720
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2 reviews. Write a review for us »
Sometimes, I admit, I find myself scratching my head (in a confused way, not in a nits way) when I hear whatever is being bandied about as ‘the coolest thing right now’. But, while there’s inevitably always going to be an element of Emperor’s New Clothes about the hip music the kids are digging right now, Benjamin Booker’s amazing debut album lives up to, mercilessly slays, then dances on the grave of its own hype.
There is quite simply nothing not to like here. First track (and single) ‘Violent Shiver’ kicks off with a bang to rival the one that led to the creation of the universe. Raw, riotous, dazzling punk, meticulously executed beneath vocals that sound like someone shouting in their sleep – Booker’s voice is urgent yet horizontally laid back all at once. The frenzy prevails into the next track ‘Always Waiting’, a folk-punk bomb of a track with dirty distortion and a growing sense of urgency, and the wonderfully filthy and dark lament ‘Happy Homes’ simply massively kicks ass.
But this is no straightforward punk album. ‘Slow Coming’ and ‘I thought I heard you screaming’ showcase Booker’s bluesier side. His vocals hiss and crack like hailstones on hot tarmac, reminiscent at times of Ray Lamontagne (but if Lamontagne has the tone of breeze through a wind chime, Booker’s wind chime has grit lodged in there).
As well as the ace dirty rawness, there is also a real maturity to this album. The band is flawless and incredibly tight (the Hammond organ is used to great effect without ever being obtrusive), and the roomy, raw production is spot on. Booker’s lyrics shine also; melancholic with a huge streak of darkness (‘Rest your head now, we all end up on the side of the road’). I simply can’t adequately convey how brilliant this album is, so basically I suggest you stop reading this review right now and buy it.
8/10 Tom N Customer review, 11th September 2014
Although not quite what I expected from the reviews I read I had grown to really like this CD. The punky/bluesy/WhiteStripey mix is great and gives the songs range as well as depth. The high energy rocky tunes show haow well the punk influence has been mixed with more contemporary sounds - Jack White and Gomez spring to mind. The slower bluesy numbers give a real contrast but are equally good. I like Booker's voice - that hoarse, raspy sound that hints at the alcohol and smoke drenched vocals of some of the old bluesmen - adds a distinct layer to the music - like Gomez. On top of all that he plays some mean guitar.
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