Brendan Benson is a 43 year old hailing from Michigan and is a multi instrumentalist with six solo albums and numerous collaborations under his belt. He has also started his own record company called Readymade Records.
I’m not American so I have no idea if Brendan Benson is big over in his native lands, but over here in England he isn’t nearly well known enough. In fact, he is probably more famous for being in the Jack White led Raconteurs than his own solo work. Ironically, his solo work is far better in my opinion.
Check this lot out…
One Mississippi (1996)
Key Track: Imaginary Girl
Benson’s debut is a mix of Beatles-esque melodic power pop, and a harder sound that was probably more a sign of the times rather than any prediction of what was to come. A solid if unspectacular debut from Benson.
Key Track: Metarie
Benson’s breakthrough album, and an absolute gem of power pop song writing. This was my first exposure after I heard the song Folk Singer off of a magazine cover CD. I bought the album and subsequently fell in love with the short bursts of melodic greatness in songs like Metarie, Tiny Spark, Good To Me and Life In The D.
The Alternative To Love (2005)
Key Track: The Pledge
The follow up to Lapalco was equally well received, and shows just how strong Benson’s song writing is. This album is more of the same, but with new elements added, like the Phil Spector-ish The Pledge, and some nice acoustic numbers like What I’m Looking For.
My Old Familiar Friend (2009)
Key Track: Eyes On The Horizon
The difficult album that any rock star encounters. The one they make when they are newly happy with the love of a wife and children! Not one of Benson’s best, due to the crisp production, which is at odds with his previous releases. Because Benson has such a knack for hooks and melodies, the record is never a total disappointment, just not up to his best.
What Kind of World (2012)
Key Track: Bad For Me
An album featuring members of Ryan Adams band, it is a return to form after the disappointing reviews for My Old Familiar Friend. Again, it’s probably not up there with the likes of Lapalco but it still has some fantastic seventies classic rock and pop style songs as you would expect to hear from any Brendan Benson album.
You Were Right (2013)
Key Track: I’ll Never Tell
Brendan Benson followed up What Kind of World quickly, releasing You Were Right within a year. And what a follow up! More of the same melodic power pop from albums of old, and probably his best since The Alternative To Love. Comprised of a compilation of singles released in a series, as well as unrecorded songs left over from previous albums, this album shouldn’t be as coherent as it is. Another classic to add to your Brendan Benson collection!
Some other works to consider:
Broken Boy Soldiers – The Raconteurs (2006)
Key Track: Steady As She Goes
The band is well known as being a Jack White vehicle, but Benson more than holds his own next to his more esteemed counterpart, offering such gems as the co-write and single Steady As She Goes. Where the album might have just been another White Stripes-esque project if it was solely White steering the ship, Benson makes sure there are nods to The Beatles and other classic rock acts, which gives the album more diversity.
Consolers of the Lonely – The Raconteurs (2008)
Key Track: Carolina Drama
The follow up to The Raconteurs popular debut was this album, which, if anything outshone what went before. It owes a huge debt to Led Zeppelin (Jack White’s blues parts) and Beatlesy melodic pop (Benson’s parts) among others. It is a cracking second album by the supergroup, and it seems their last release, at least for now, with White moving on to the less impressive Dead Weather.