In 2006 I heard Ben Kweller’s “I Gotta Move” and I was hooked. His self-titled album released the same year only confirmed my initial strong reaction. The record was replete with should-be hits like “Run,” the magical “Sundress” and, of course, “I Gotta Move.” It’s a record where Kweller manages to bridge the guitar/piano divide that often divides poprock performers. Melding both instruments into the mix, he balances an aching pop sensibility with a familiar rock and roll sound. And all the songs are framed around strong hooks. Other strong tracks include “Thirteen,” “Nothing Happened,” and “I Don’t Know Why.” But why choose? There really aren’t any weak tracks here. RunSundressI Gotta Move
As an album, Ben Kweller spoiled me. I couldn’t wait for Kweller’s next record. Sure, I did a bit of digging, checked out his ‘sugar metal’ band Radish, as well as earlier solo recordings like the Ben Folds-ish “Falling” from 2002’s Sha Sha. But none really matched the mastery, both in terms of songwriting and production, of Ben Kweller in my view. When 2009’s Changing Horses arrived I must admit my first reaction was a bit of disappointment, as the album represented a fairly dramatic change of direction, away from the melodic poprock of earlier material toward an alt country vibe. While it has grown on me, I welcomed 2012’s Go Fly a Kite as a kind of musical course correction. The record opens with a trio of killer tunes, from the rockier “Mean to Me” with its Cars-like atmosphere, to the hooky “Out the Door,” to “Jealous Girl” with its distinctive piano and great ‘whoa ohs’. There is a country feel to some of the songs here too like “Full Circle” and “You Can Count on Me” but across all the material is a strong focus on melody. As a whole, Go Fly a Kite doesn’t hit a false note, with consistently strong songwriting and production.Mean to MeOut the DoorJealous Girl
But that was 2012. Since then, nothing, other than a holiday single and some movie work. Where is Ben Kweller? From a boy wonder who regularly churned out new material we have heard little in over half a decade. After a bit of searching I did come across a recent video session between Kweller and fans where he said he was working on a new album and had 50 songs to draw from. Well I’ve been missing Ben Kweller – it can’t come fast enough.
Ben’s work is available (mostly, some Radish and early EPs are hard to find) in the usual places. As for his new record, all we can do is regularly check out his website and Facebook pages and hope for updates.
I’m almost 60 years old and I’ve enjoyed Sha Sha for many years now. Wish Ben would get producing again.
Dennis Pilon said: