Monday, August 10, 2009

Review: Benjamin r "The Other Side of Nowhere"

Just three songs into this CD and I was desperate to learn more about Benjamin r, wondering why in the world I've not heard of this guy yet. Robert Selvaggio, otherwise known as Benjamin r, has 'come out of nowhere' with his excellent debut CD, "The Other Side of Nowhere". My hope is that this release takes him somewhere big.

With a solid foundation in producing and recording acts from Jewel to Puddle of Mudd, Benjamin r decided in 2007 to track some of his own tunes. 2009's "The Other Side of Nowhere" is the result - lucky for us! Benjamin r generally writes in the style of Crowded House, and sounds somewhere in-between Mark Kano (Athenaeum) and - believe or not - Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day (especially on "I Don't Need This Anymore", one of the strongest tracks on the disc). But for the more coffeehouse songs, he reminds me a bit of Elliot Smith (check out "Letters").

True, Benjamin r's expertise as a recording engineer shines on this sonically pleasing debut, but it is the pop rock sensibilities that have won me over. The first half of the disc is remarkably strong, infusing a bar band rock sound with catchy powerpop melodies on tracks like "Tell Me I'm Wrong", "Falling Apart", and "History". The second half of the disc is not bad by any means, but it did not capture my attention as quickly. All in all, a very strong debut, and I hope to hear a lot more from the other side of nowhere.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 9

Benjamin r on MySpace. Official site.

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