Tag Archives: Ben Kweller

New Ben Kweller: Killer Bee

Video: Ben Kweller – “Killer Bee”

Directed by Walter Bristol. Single out now on Noise Company.

Before you get any further go read this Texas Monthly feature by Dina Gachman: Ben Kweller Is Playing Through the Pain. It’s worth your time. See you in a minute.

. . .

Alright, welcome back. Pretty great, right? So yeah, Kweller has been through something absolutely devastating and seems to be doing as well as humanly possible. As the dad of my own sixteen year old boy, when I first heard the heartbreaking news about Kweller’s son my initial reaction was self-centered: Oh my god, what if that happened to my kid? I can’t even imagine how I would deal. Kweller is transforming his grief into something else, and it’s remarkable.

“Killer Bee” is just BK and his acoustic guitar. Simple, sad and pretty. He says, “This is song for anyone who’s ever felt alone in the world. We’re all outsiders until we find our people.”

Keep on keeping on.

Ben Kweller: web, bandcamp, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Ben Kweller video: Just for Kids

Video: Ben Kweller – “Just for Kids”

Directed by Carrick Moore Gerety. From Circuit Boredom, out now on his own label, Noise Company.

The passing of time is something else, isn’t it? It blows my mind to think that Ben Kweller was just a 20-year-old kid when he released Sha Sha. Now he’s 40. I guess you wouldn’t know it from listening to his voice. He still sounds like the kid who sang about watching “Planet of the Apes” on tv.

Hip to hip until the sunrise
When we kiss we close our eyes
See the world for what it is
Falling in love ain’t just for kids

Right on.

Kweller’s sixth album, Circuit Boredom, was finally released on January 1, almost two years after he first announced it with the single “Heart Attack Kid.” So in case you hadn’t heard, it’s out.

New Ben Kweller video: Carelesss

Video: Ben Kweller – “Carelesss”

Directed by Steve Hanft.

Ben Kweller is a grownup now but he remembers how it feels to be a kid. And as a back-to-school gift for all the little freaks out there, he offers a new song with a message of hope and perseverance.

I’m the girl in zebra tights dressed in black
I know who I am so get the fuck off of my back
The kids at school just think I’m just a sheep inside
Herein lies the great divide

Kweller says, “This song goes out to the 3,000,000 kids bullied every year in the USA. It’s a middle finger to the bullies who judge and it’s a shot in the arm to the victims. If you’re heading back to school this month, or if you’re out of school and still struggling in any way, trying to fit in, I want you to know that you don’t have to fit in. You can walk your own beautiful path and hold your head up high.”

Right on.

Kweller’s been in this business since he was just a kid. He was only 15 when major labels fought a bidding war to sign his band Radish. His solo debut Sha Sha from 2002 is still one of my favorite albums of that era. And he’s continued to put out solid rock and roll ever since.

Ben Kweller: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Ben Kweller video: Heart Attack Kid

Video: Ben Kweller – “Heart Attack Kid”

Directed by Robert Strange and Ben Kweller. From Circuit Boredom, due sometime soon on the Noise Company.

I dig Ben Kweller’s grungy Southern rocker look. It suits him.

If you’ve noticed that Kweller has been pretty quiet lately, there’s a very good explanation for that. He and his entire immediate family were all almost killed in a carbon monoxide accident.

“We were in this sweet little cabin and in the middle of the night, Lizzy woke up and said, ‘Ben, get up! Something’s wrong–I feel horrible,'” Kweller says. “I immediately jumped out of bed and collapsed to the ground. We instinctively crawled to the front door and opened it. Fresh air rushed in the cabin. I called 911. We grabbed the boys out of bed, trying to shake them awake, and managed to get everyone outside in the snow. The boys were crying and falling in and out of consciousness–it was like something out of a horror film. When the ambulances arrived, they tested our blood and said our CO levels were so high, we were 15 minutes away from not waking up. Fifteen minutes! We spent the next day in the hospital on pure oxygen and days after that feeling lethargic and mush-brained. When we got back home, I was an incapacitated zombie.”

Fortunately, everybody’s okay, but it took him a few years to be “start the machine back up again” and get back into the recording studio.

Glad he did. I’ve been following Kweller since I first heard “Family Tree” on college radio in 2002. He was just a kid then, but Sha Sha is still one of my favorite albums of that era. And he’s produced tons of great stuff since then as well.

“Heart Attack Kid” is a clear sign of good things to come.

And friends: make sure you have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. It could save your life!

Ben Kweller: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

New Ben Kweller video – Fight

Video: Ben Kweller – “Fight”

From Changing Horses, out February 3 on ATO. His publicist calls this “a full-blown, straight-up country affair” but it’s clear that Kweller’s been listening to the Flying Burrito Brothers with the mix of country, gospel, soul, and rock and roll. This is full-blown, straight-up Cosmic American Music. I’m happy to see the return of pedal steel and multi-part harmonies, which have been lacking in his output since 2002’s Sha Sha (review), an album I still revisit regularly.

Ben Kweller: web, myspace, wiki</a, twitter.

Continue reading New Ben Kweller video – Fight

Lollapalooza 2006: Day Three

Take the whole day off...Three days of being outside in the heat is a long time. When I woke up Sunday morning, I was still tired and vaguely hungover, and the weatherman was telling me it was going to rain. Fun! Thoughts drifted back to Lollapalooza 2005 and how everything was squashed together in half the real estate over two days. Less walking, fewer skippable timeslots. But hey, America thrives on Growth at all costs, so stop your whining, you little commie!

Expect Lollapalooza 2012 to stretch from Soldier Field to Foster Beach and last from Memorial Day to Labor Day. The Redwalls, Ben Kweller, and Death Cab will be the only three bands to have played all eight years!

So anyway, all week I’d been getting these spammish invitations to the “ck one music lounge” at the Hard Rock Hotel. There were promises of free booze, air conditioning, and a “gift suite.” I saw the episode of the Sopranos where Chrissy hangs out with Ben Kingsley, so I wanted to at least try to score a free PSP. Right?

As you might have guessed, no such luck. After waiting behind some blatantly Hot Topic-styled “Rock Stars” we got to the front of the line where the hostess took one look at me and asked, “Media?” Obviously not “Artist.” I got my pass and went to the lounge and got hassled by the bartender for my I.D. He was such a dick I initially thought he was just joking around with me. After conferring with another bartender (no shit!), he finally relented and gave me a bottle of Italian beer. Thanks a lot, jackass.

There were some hot dogs and pinball machines and video games and beanbag chairs, and an absolute lack of any schwag worth carrying. I chugged my beer, grabbed a tiny sample bottle of CK Be and a pack of Ask the Kabala oracle cards (I’m not kidding) to prove to my non-VIP pals what they were missing, and we got the hell out of there before the “Kill Hannah DJ Set” started. Oy.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2006: Day Three

Lollapalooza 2005: Day Two

Lollapalooza 2005Also read Glorious Noise’s coverage of Day One of Lollapalooza 2005.

After the relatively mild weather on Saturday, everybody was hoping the forecasters would be wrong again for Sunday. But when my dogs woke me up at 7:30 and it was already 85 degrees outside, I knew it was going to be a rough day. Still, it might cloud up at least, right?

Wrong. But there were a lot of bands I wanted to see so I jumped on the train and headed down to Grant Park for the second day of Lollapalooza. The CTA expanded its service for the weekend (I can’t imagine how much the organizers had to fork over for that!), so we made it downtown in record time for a Sunday.

Continue reading Lollapalooza 2005: Day Two

Ben Kweller – On My Way

Ben KwellerOn My Way (ATO Records)

No one can ever accuse Ben Kweller of lacking energy. He is at times the epitome of what a young rocker should be; tearing up the Metro stage one minute and doing yoga on Carson Daily’s show for no apparent reason the next. On his new release, On My Way, the young Mr. Kweller’s energy is abundant and refreshing. In this era of maudlin euro-pop and cartoonish punk/metal aping, it’s nice to see that some kids still have fun just making rock records.

Paired this time around with producer Ethan Johns, On My Way crackles with the vinyl buzz of rock made simple. The live sound of the album lends a personal quality that suggests the music might just be coming from the basement next door. Unlike the previous Sha Sha, there’s no polished pop masterwork here, just good room sounds and warm guitar to microphone tones.

The vocal and guitar hooks that line the album are still very much Kweller’s own. “The Rules” has enough memorable guitar banging to keep many a cover band busy while the fans of Kweller’s anti-folk, coffee house days will be appeased by the bare acoustic title track, which references karate in the first two lines and still comes off as sweet.

At times the album rests heavily on its influences. The first track, “I Need You Back,” could very easily be Ben Kweller lending lead vocals to a King’s Of Leon instrumental, the very band that introduced Ben to the idea of recording with Johns. In other tracks I heard equally significant Let It Be-era Beatles references as well as some good old Detroit garage rock. Though the songs remain catchy, it’s better when Kweller is just Kweller.

The closing track, “Different But The Same,” may be the best track on the album. It’s mature and well crafted, in both writing and production. The album cover depicts Kweller standing tall among the wolves and the album does the same. It’s not Sha Sha and that’s what’s good about it. Ben Kweller has grown and matured and gone from clever pop to smart rock very gracefully.

—Josh Boisvert

Ben Kweller – Sha Sha

Ben KwellerSha Sha (ATO Records)

It’s easy and simplistic to make comparisons to what this album sounds like. There’s a lot of Weezer and a lot of Ben Folds. But so what? What have those guys done lately that’s made you give a shit? When I first heard “Family Tree” on Loyola’s excellent student radio station, I was more reminded of the Grateful Dead and the Beatles. Tell me that the acoustic guitar break doesn’t remind you of “I’m Only Sleeping.”

This is a solid album with several great, engaging songs. Sure, there are some dumb lyrics (“Sex reminds her of eating spaghetti” — even if that did come from Doom Generation, it’s still stupid). This is the direction Weezer should have gone in, but didn’t. And even if he hasn’t totally found his own voice yet, cut him a little slack. He’s only 20. Ben Kweller is definitely one to keep an eye on.