Ben Kweller :: On My Way (ATO Records)
Ben Kweller has had the unique distinction of being the next big thing, twice. As a teenager the Texan and his golden locks absorbed Cobain comparisons and endured a music industry dream that was followed by the all too familiar industry nightmare.
Despite the rug being pulled, Ben Kweller landed on his feet firmly, and with his latest, On My Way, produced by Ethan Johns (Kings of Leon) he has arrived--again. The recording session was stripped of formality, as Ben and the band were “put in a room without headphones, plugged in their amps, and rolled tape.” In an era of plenty for so many lo-fi garage acts with a penchant for the squeal, Ben takes it up, and down, a few notches, offering songwriter sensibilities and a vocal chord quiver reminiscent of Gordon Gano (Violent Femmes) or a Loaded era Lou Reed. Coupled with scrappy production, the songs are miles from the arrogant caricatures of rock 'n' roll the cleared-for-Clear-Channel basement band set has rocked of late. These songs are introspective and observant shy guy anthems. “The Rules” and “I Need You Back” prove without a doubt that Ben can rock yer face and win the Battle of the Bands, but title track “On My Way” proves he’s capable of writing an emotional, complex, and complicated epic--very privately and, it seems, unintentionally. That’s not easy in less than four minutes.