Rockin' Our Turntable: Brendan Benson

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 14, 2009 7:00PM

2009_08_brendanbenson.jpg Brendan Benson still isn't exactly a household name, though if most folks saw him they'd recognize him as the skinny blonde dude who sings in The Raconteurs with Jack White. Benson's history actually stretches much further back to the days before his 1996 debut, One Mississippi. A listen to any of his solo work quickly uncovers just what his major contribution to The Raconteurs is: Benson is the pop foil to White's rock menace.

Benson's album are always extremely catchy and pleasurable to listen to and if we have any criticism it's that they tend to get too sweet at times, and are best imbibed in nugget-sized form. We suspect fans of Matthew Sweet suffer this same aural exhaustion. Benson's new album album, My Old, Familiar Friend, is still catchy as hell, but there's now a slightly raw rock edge to the songs that has transformed them tasty bites into something we want in an IV bag on a continual loop.

Benson's live sets have always been sweaty, electric affairs, and we've always wondered why that immediacy seemed to be shut out of his studio time. With My Old, Familiar Friend Benson seems to have solved that problem. Studio flourishes still populate the disc, but they feel more organic as on the Motown strings driving "Garbage Day" that swoop and swing. He manages the neat trick of crafting an impeccable studio disc that still breathes and feels like it was done on the fly. Nothing is out of place, but everything feels spontaneous. It's a thorough pop victory.

My Old, Familiar Friend is released Tuesday, August 18

Brendan Benson plays a two sold out shows on August 20 at Schubas, 3159 N Southport, 7 p.m. (18+) and 10 p.m. (21+)