Directed by Brad Holland. From Dear Life, out now on Third Man.
Brendan Benson’s got a lot of cool gear in his home studio in Nashville. Which is a good thing during stay-at-home orders, right? Lots of fun toys to keep you busy.
The last time we checked in on Benson he was telling that it was good to be alive. And now he’s sharing a couple verses about people who are barely hanging on.
Some days, it comes over me
And I can barely breathe
All this fury pressing down on me
I don’t ever want to leave
It’s got me hanging on
To dear life
“There’s something about this record,” Benson says. “A friend of mine called it ‘life-affirming.’ I thought it was a joke at first but then realized, well, it’s about life and death for sure. I don’t know if that’s positive or optimistic or whatever, but that’s what’s going on with me.”
Brendan Benson - "Good To Be Alive" (Official Music Video)
Directed by Ben Chappell. From Dear Life, due April 24 on Third Man.
Fresh off the heels of the third Raconteurs album, Brendan Benson is back with his seventh solo album. The first single sounds a little less rock than his previous stuff but that’s not so bad. There’s some deliberately noticeable autotune on the vocals that’s a little disconcerting at first but it works with the synth tones of the bass and programmed drums.
The video features rollerskating and dancing with a horse. And why not?
And I’ve been searching for that hunger
That I knew when I was younger
When I was never satisfied.
Now my body’s getting older
But my brain is aging slower
And I feel young inside.
This is a sentiment that a lot of middle-aged dudes can attest to. I’m about the same age as Benson and it’s weird to be in this spot where you look in the mirror and think, Who the hell is the old guy and how’d he get into my bathroom? Getting old sucks balls, no doubt about it, but as Benson suggests in the chorus, it’s certainly better than the alternative.
Brendan Benson writes his own “Tuesday’s Gone” while he and his fellow Raconteurs visit the House On The Rock in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which looks a lot cooler than Uranus, Missouri. Last spring we took a family road trip on what’s left of Route 66 from Chicago to the Grand Canyon and I had purchased a little guidebook to make sure we didn’t miss out on any of the cool stuff along the way. One of the spots was a place called Uranus, which had a fudge shop, and since one of my travel companions was a 12 year old boy, I figured we had to stop at least to get a “I love Uranus” t-shirt. They claimed, after all, that the best fudge comes from Uranus.
Guess what: Uranus stinks.
As soon as we got out of the car we were hit by a dank cloud of cigarette smoke. It was so disappointing. I went in thinking that there had been a town in Missouri that was called Uranus and some hilarious person decided to open a fudge shop there. Nope. There is no town named Uranus. The closest town is St. Robert. It’s just a tourist attraction that a former strip club operator started in 2002. That’s way less funny than doing it in a historical place with an unfortunate name. And it certainly doesn’t belong in a “things to do along Route 66” book. It was just gross. The idea that somebody developed a whole fake town just so his employees would have to greet their customers with “Thanks for picking Uranus!” is a little creepy.
I enjoy scatological humor as much as the next guy, even if the next guy is 12, but Uranus is a poorly executed shithole. Maybe that’s part of the joke. If so, that’s some next level meta action.
The House On The Rock, on the other hand, looks amazing.
A funky little groove with Jack and Brendan singing harmonies throughout, “Help Me Stranger” is gonna be lit live. Shades of all the genres that made Detroit a hothouse for any variety musical pollinators in the late 60s and early 70s.
The video is more of the symbolism of life in a broken land we’ve seen of late. Whether it’s Jack holden a baby in what appears to be an abandoned Asian city or images of that baby then smoldering in Jack’s arms, things are not well.
I am a big fan of Jack White’s, more so his approach to the music business even than much of the music he makes. He’s an aesthete, which makes for great branding, but sometimes needs to be challenged by other influences. My favorite examples of his work are when he partners with somebody else. Someone like Loretta Lynn. Or Brendan Benson.
The Racanonteurs are by far my favorite Jack White joint, mainly because he has a foil in the pop sensibilities of Brendan Benson and the backing of one of my favorite rhythm sections in Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes (my second favorite Third Man Records act).
But Jack’s been a busy boy and it’s been more than a decade since we last heard from The Raconteurs. They’re back now, with Benson confirming some tour dates via Twitter, and a couple of killer new videos.
2019 is going to be an exciting year of touring with The Racs!
“Sunday Driver” is a great example of the successful smashing of sounds that make The Raconteurs so good. The intro sounds like a Greenhornes’ jammer with a garage-psyche break under Benson’s melody. Success in a most unlikely way!
“Now That You’re Gone” is my favorite of the two though. A simmering break up songs accompanied by a super hot video of lust and destruction. Oh yes.
A new album is due later this year and I cannot fucking wait.
One week ago, the Raconteurs announced that they were rush releasing their new album in order to “get this record to fans, the press, radio, etc., all at the EXACT SAME TIME so that no one has an upper hand on anyone else regarding its availability, reception or perception.” Yesterday, in equally democratic fashion, Glorious Noise announced a contest wherein we would publish the first review submitted to us by you, our readers. Kiko Jones earned that honor. Post your own review the comments!
These guys are old school. Yeah, how to boil water and all that. But who puts a lead off title track on their album anymore? And a worthy one, too? This one prominently features the lead vocals of Brendan Benson in what seems like a deliberate attempt to once again assert the “we’re a band” concept and not the commonly held “Jack White and co.” perception. Wait—seems? Nah, Jack White chances nothing.
In any event, once revved up, Consolers of the Lonely rocks a bit harder than Broken Boy Soldiers (“Salute Your Solution”; “Hold Up”; “Five on the Five”; the title track) and has a more in-your-face mix than their debut. The band even dabbles in retro R&B balladry—”Many Shades of Black”, complete with the requisite horn section, in this case the legendary Memphis Horns—and pseudo-White Stripes territory on the bluesy, slide guitar-flavored “Top Yourself”—but there’s nothing here to win you over if you weren’t sucked in the first time around. Conversely, if you felt Broken Boy Soldiers answered the question, “what would the White Stripes sound like with a rhythm section carried by a real drummer?” then this record is for you.
Even though we are only a third of the way in, arguably the most anticipated rock record of 2008 is here and it’s pretty good. Which in this era of increasingly diminishing returns is about par for the course. However, don’t let that diminish your enjoyment of Consolers of the Lonely one bit. This ain’t no sophomore slump, not by a long shot.
Jack White has a new band, the Raconteurs. “We’ll probably be coming out with a new record next year. It’s something totally new for me — two songwriters working together. Dual vocals, dual lead guitars, dual songwriting duties.”