Tag Archives: Marco Benevento

Marco Benevento with Andy Borges and Dave Dreiwitz

  Marco’s music is amazing. His keyboard chops are solid. He plays a piano into pedals that make the sounds shimmer! Andy and Dave lay down danceable grooves. I found this set to be his best I’ve seen, as he played accessible familiar covers and kept a high energy for a firm two hours. I include these photos because Andy had such funny expressions as he played, he really gets into the music. I like that Marco has cheesy Casio keyboard sounding tinny drum machines sometimes, and then there are such huge pounding drums as well. Listen here! Or look him up on Spotify or Apple Music.


I drew him and reviewed his cd before, you can see it here

Tagged ,

Marco Benevento at the Axe and Fiddle

Marco Benevento played his droney shimmering, danceable instrumental jam band pop at the Axe and Fiddle last night and it was a magical show! His band was awesome. That drummer (Andy Borger) was amazing. BAss player Dave Dreiwitz was on his game too laying down the fuzz. I don’t know what to say about the show other than that I loved it.

100_3777 100_3778 100_3779 100_3782 100_3784

years ago i Reviewed one of his cds, here is the review originally published in Performer Magazine. He’s made two new albums since 2012! I have got to catch up!

Marco Benevento: Between the Needles and Nightfall


Trout Recording in Brooklyn, NY where engineer Bryce Goggin

Mixed by Mell Dettmer (Sunn O))), Eyvind Kang, Jesse Lauter (Low Anthem, Elvis Perkins) and Vid Cousins (Amon Tobin, Kid Koala)

Benevento delivers another fun and lively collection of funky keyboard music.

A friendly bass riff supplied by Reed Mathis from (Tea Leaf Green and the Jacob Fred Jazz Oryssey) is a prominent part of the title track. “Numbers” chugs along like “Benny and the Jets” but with whirling whizzing, synths and circuit bent toys by Tom Stephenson from Math Robot.

An eye-opening cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You know I’m no good,”  features some extremely overdriven organ. Drummer Andrew Barr really shines here, bringing unexpected counter rhythms and colorful rim shots. Benevento says, “Its such a catchy ditty, it should be in the next fake book or Real book, I’m sure it will stand the test of time!”

The dreamy shuffle on “Music is Still Secret” reminds me of Kid Koala. (maybe that sound is from the collaboration with Vid Cousins.) “Snow Lake” has a creepy shamisen-like sound chiming, these are processed bells from Scott Amendola.

There is always a certain feel to a Benevento song: a pleasant skip in your stride mood, that lends itself to walking with a forward lean.  “Ila Frost” is a highlight, and an ideal example of melodies that sound truly optimistic. Swirling organs provide the poetry, and VInce Guaraldi-like piano riffs bring hope and joy.

There is a Mellotron, an Optigan, various Pianos and Organs and a Harpsichord, processed through bit shifters, delay effects and ring modulators, each joining in like adorable muppet characters in an avant garde opera.

You are sure to hear more layers each time you indulge in this eccentric album.

Tagged , , , ,

Space Age Bachelor Pad Music

Essential additions to an Incredibly Strange Music Collection.

I thought I’d write an article this holiday season about some of my favorite albums in the “Space Age Bachelor Pad” genre.

Space Age Bachelor Pad music, also known as “space age pop” was generally instrumental, happy, and short. Some of this music was  designed to show off the power of new stereo speakers. Wikipedia tells us- “Space age pop was inspired by the zeitgeist of those times, an optimism based on the strong post-war economy and technology boom, and excitement about mankind’s early forays into space.”     Engineers and composers were pushing the limit and trying to make the home listening experience as dynamic and as exciting as they could. They were experimenting with putting microphones in cans, the difference between recording close up and far away, microphones hanging from ceilings, moving in the room while the performance was happening. Sometimes jazz standards and classical pieces would be remained in a peppy, optimisitc and playful way, generally cutting intros and solos to keep them tight and snappy.

Henri Mancini and Dick Hyman would utilize sounds and moods first explored in this thrilling genre to score film.  Some of this music resembles music from cartoons, and Carl Stalling (who worked on both Disney’s Merry Melodies and Warner Brother’s Silly Symphonies) even reused music from the Raymond Scott  catalog in his compositions for Looney Tunes.
The most familiar of these is also perhaps the most iconic space age pop tune of all, “Powerhouse.” This instantly recognizable tune was in countless cartoons at moments of confused frenzy, a confidant character strutting down the street, or scenes of construction or moving conveyor belts.
My favorite rendition appears on Space Age Pop Volume 1, recorded by Sid Bass, though a very interesting “free jazz” version is on Ted Kooshian’s Standard Orbit Quartet’s Underdog, and a cool percussion heavy xylophone rendition is on Space Capades from Ultra Lounge recorded by the Bobby Hammack trio.
Conductor  Gert Jan Blom said that the effect of having a real orchestra play Powerhouse in front of him, with over 20 horns and percussion was “better than sex.” ( Liner notes to Raymond Scott: Chesterfield Arrangements 1937-1938)
Some lump this music together with “elevator” music and lounge. I’m just one listener, but I would disagree. I think elevator music is designed to calm and be unnoticed in the background. When I think “lounge,” I think vocals, and imagine a sultry singer leaning on a piano and crooning into a old fashioned microphone. What makes Space Age Pop what it is: NO lyrics,  fun and zest in every note and element of the production, and an insistent, hummable melody that is high in the mix played on keyboards and mallet instruments.

Modern bands who are kicking ass and taking names, continuing the Space age pop tradition. Many of these discs were released in the 90s, so they aren’t exactly Modern… but I don’t care, I’m living in the past and loving it. If you like Keyboards- this is a list for you, I’m a keyboardophile and this list shows it.

Medeski, Martin and Wood
This band has fans in the Jazz world and the “jam band” scene. My favorite album is the one I consider to be the most optimistic Shack Man. “Is there Anybody who Loves my Jesus?” “Think,” “Spy Kiss,” and their iconic song, maybe what they are best known for, the bouncy, repetitive, tempo crescendo orgasm that is Bubblehouse- borrowing a formula from house music but setting it to a playful hip hop beat  and sounds almost like a DJ Shadow or RJD2 tune.

Another fantastic album from them is their most avant garde and Psychedelic: The Dropper. I usually slip the first track, which is a bit too wild for me, but I love the rest of the album, Long rambling wild Miles Davis like songs, and the middle is a lovely  lounge intermission “Note Blue” with the happiest organ riffs and gentle swinging guitar noodling. Many tracks also have Marc Ribot!

Vampiros Lesbos by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab
This isn’t a band name, sadly, but a soundtrack that became more famous than the film. This is crazy 70s european soft core Horror porn with fantastic fun music. Jammy organs, horns, noir electric guitars, and electric piano grooves. The tracks aren’t ruined with any dialogue or horny vampire moaning, the only track with vocals is “the Lion and the Cucumber.” Its some satanic chanting by an Troll. “There’s no Satisfaction” is pure Go-Go bliss! Dig it!
Other awesome tracks are “Dedicated to Love” and “Kama Sutra.”


The pretty cooing ladies who are swooning and saying “aaaahhh,” “hey!” or “oh yes!” in the background blend in with samples of monkeys and birdsong. Slide guitars, vibraphones, sitars and flutes make this tiki tiki album perfect for a bubble party. Uh Oh has the amazing tracks “Papaya Freeway,” Sweet Cinnamon Punch.”
Their followup, Buzzzz contains “Chop Sockey,” and “Good Little Demon.” If it were possible for this band to play live it would be a fantastic show. Perhaps they perform some semblance of the album by playing backing tracks and playing mallet instruments live along with them.

Action Figure Party.
I found that I like everything  Greg Kurstin puts his hands on, including Geggy Tah, Lily Allen and this gem of an album. This has guest appearances from many musicians known for playing rock and pop, but who like to play Jazz  when Greg Kurstin calls; such as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Yuval Gabay from Soul Coughing. Miho Hatori, Sean Lennon, and Theremin Virtuoso Pamela Kurstin make contributions too.
“Pong Baby” is some crazy funk. “Gamera” has outrageously catchy keyboard riffs and a delightful drum riff. Wheres the moment is sheer delight. “George and Cindy” sounds like closing credits to a 60s TV show about teenagers in love, and “Flow” and “No Sleep” provide welcome respite with slower tempos and a chiller mood. Bonkers good record.

The Bad Plus 

Not so much a jazz band, as a experimental progressive band playing music in the “jazz idiom.” They are known for eclectic rock covers such as “Smells like Teen Spirit” and “Iron Man,” and when they put their own spin on the mood and timing, such as in Bowie’s Life on Mars or Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” the results are remarkable. These are truly covers that pay loving homage to their originals.
They can push the limits of grandiosity to the extreme such as in Queen’s “We are the Champions.” It works… for a few listens. I think they shine on original compositions like “Prehensile Dream, ” Anthem for the Earnest and “The Empire Strikes Backwards” all from their amazing album Suspicious Activity. My favorite album from them is their first: Give. “Boo Wah” is some outrageous odd time signature exploration, that might make Sun Ra scratch his head. “1972 Gold Medalist” is a simple prodding two chord adventure that I will never tire of.

Kid Koala

Tracks like “Basin Street Blues” from Some of my Best Friends are Djs combine hip hop and drunken jazz. He has a rhythm section going on one LP and then a trumpet solo on another one and he scratches and mangles it to pure ear candy. Often his use of “funny vocal samples” is hackneyed, I would prefer he leave the tracks instrumental every time. I have had the opportunity to see him live twice and each time was thrilling. I think the samples are better suited to a live show setting, and when the albums final mix goes out the tracks would be improved by removing them.
“Stomping at  Le Savoi” and “Vacation Island” are two other fun tracks I recommend, but alas, also have funny samples.

Ursula 1000 is an electronica artist who makes fun dancey remixes of old songs, mixes the best from the world of “loungetronica- and samples everything, including samba, mambo and big band. I think his best tracks are definitely in the space age bachelor pad tradition. “Beatbox Cha Cha” from Kinda Kinky is one of his best, the other standouts are “Mucho Tequila,” and  “Samba 1000.”
“Funky Bikini,” “Mambo 1000,” and “The Shake” are highlights from his debut The Now Sound of Ursula 1000. He has also released “mixtape” style releases with him mixing the music of others, Ursadelica and All Systems are Go Go.

I also want to mention Magma.

Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh and Kohntarkosz Anteria are the two albums I have heard from them.

This sounds nothing like space age bachelor pad music, and it was released in the 70s, but I’m going to write about it here anyway because its so incredibly wild and intense. This is French Choral Orchestral psychedelia. They sing in a made-up language that sounds Germanic. Its Crazy.

But wait there’s more. Many many more artists are exploring these fun sounds, combining them with hip hop, vocals, and acid jazz: including Stereolab, Combustible Edison, The Cardigans, Valella Valella, Belaire, Nous Non Plus, Lemon Jelly, Euphone, The Lounge Lizards, Morricone Youth, Mr. Scruff, Prefuse 73,  Max Tundra, Ulu,  The Avalanches,  Marco Benevento and the Bird and the Bee (also a Greg Kurstin project.) if you play music that is strange and instrumental, please tell me about it!

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yellow Fever, Nous Non Plus, Marco Benevento,UUVVWWZ, Marion Call, Sweating Honey

Here are some cd reviews I contributed to Performer Magazine. Some were published there already. More to come!

Yellow Fever
Recorded at their House in Austin Texas, Engineered by Adam Moore

Yellow Fever sing songs that resemble childhood chants to accompany playground jump rope games but sung with a dry hipster detachment? ie “My brother and me went to a show and we saw everyone we know.” In another she sings, “The cutest boy, I ever saw,” which I believe is still sung by girl scouts around campfires.
Are they inspired by the Dada aesthetic? Most songs are very sparse, with either just a guitar and a snare drum accompanying Jennifer Moore’s youthful female voice. This minimalism works in their favor on “Psychedelic” and the very catchy “Cats and Rats,” but I can’t help but feel these are 11 versions of a single plastic song rather than 11 distinctly unique songs.
Sometimes their lyrics remind me of the “dumb on purpose?” aesthetic of bands like Ladytron. Or are they the “Ernest Hemmingway” version of the Moldy Peaches? (About writing, he famously said, “take out all the good lines.”) These do not sound like songs written by children, but by adults trying to write songs in the style of children.
I suspect that they have written hundreds of songs and put those on the album that audiences seemed to like.  I’d like to see 11 more in a few years, assuming they play regularly, and see how their style has changed.
Nous Non Plus (New York City)
Produced by Dan Crane, engineered and mixed by Bryan Cook, additional engineering by Jon Erickson.

Recorded at Kingsize Soundlabs. Additional recording at The Hanger, Mellow Workshop, Edison Music, LoHo Studios, and in various apartments in NY, Paris, LA and Flagstaff. Mastering at SAE Mastering.

For fans of Paris Combo, Os Mutantes, Brazilian Girls, The Cardigans (early recordings)
Let the organs and horns transplant you to another time, gleeful 60s gogo music sung (almost) entirely in french. The flutes and vibes (Benoit Rault and Joe Berardi) remind me of the breezy tunes The Cardigans released in the early 90s, and the zippy energy often brings to mind “Soul Bossa Nova” by Quincy Jones.
The music of Nous Non Plus urges us to enjoy ourselves. Their politics extol a gay hedonism over violence and destruction.
“When you dance you cannot fight so lets stay up and dance all night!”  they sing in “Mais Maintenant il Faut Danser,” which translates as “for the moment we must dance.” I thought they were singing, “big bombs fall on literature,” but their lyric sheet tells me its “little children” which are the unfortunate victims of the explosives… oh well, fuck it. lets dance.
Jean Luc and Celine sometimes coo together, at other times they trade who has the mic which gives some tracks a slight “garage sound,” and others a sexy lounge vibe. The excellent production, apparently recorded at studios all over the world, makes it all match and compliment each other. One highlight is a Unicorns cover: “Tuff Ghost”, another is the wacky “Catastrophe.” Here is a tip for singing along, which your sure to do; in French, you don’t pronounce the “e” at the end.
I also recommend you watch their music videos online, it’s there you can see their cute faces and know comprehensively that they are not taking themselves seriously. In one, there is an atomic girl zapping people with a laser gun on a space ship, in another they are dancing in a kitchen while making a souffle.

Marco Benevento, Brooklyn, NY. Between the Needles and Nightfall
Key Track: “IIa Frost”

Recorded at Trout Recording in Brooklyn, NY. Engineer: Bryce Goggin
Mixed by Mell Dettmer, Eyvind Kang, Jesse Lauter, and Vid Cousins.

Benevento delivers another fun and lively collection of funky keyboard music.
A friendly bass riff supplied by Reed Mathis (Tea Leaf Green and the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey) is a prominent part of the title track. “Numbers” chugs along like “Benny and the Jets” but with whirling, whizzing synths and circuit bent toys by Tom Stephenson from Math Robot.
An eye-opening cover of Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,”  features some extremely overdriven organ. Drummer Andrew Barr really shines here, bringing unexpected counter rhythms and colorful rim shots. Benevento said in an email interview, “that song is a future classic, it will be in every fakebook soon.”
The dreamy shuffle on “Music is Still Secret” reminds me of Kid Koala. (Maybe that’s due to mixing by Vid Cousins.) “Snow Lake” has a creepy shamisen-like chiming, these are processed bells from Scott Amendola.
There is always a certain feel to a Benevento song: a pleasant “skip in your stride” mood, that lends itself to walking with a forward lean, to going out and nailing that job interview, or finishing that 17×24 painting, or climbing that fucking mountain just because its there!  “Ila Frost” is a highlight, and an ideal example of melodies that sound truly optimistic. Swirling organs provide the poetry, and Vince Guaraldi-like piano bring the philosophy, its a Jack Kerouac novel converted to pure sound.
A mellotron, an optigan, various acoustic and electric pianos, organs and a harpsichord are processed through bit shifters, delay effects and ring modulators, and join in like characters in an avant-garde opera. You are sure to hear more layers each time you indulge in this eccentric album.

recorded by Andy Koeneke and JJ Idt.
Mastered by Doug Van Sloun
Saddle Creek records
UUVVWWZ- self titled
Lincoln Nebraska
This new band apparently got signed to a label with a great reputation very early in their career; their debut album is very fun and definitely carries its weight alongside the other heavy hitters on their label! They are from Nebraska, and I had no idea something so invented and inverted could come out of that state. I thought of many bands upon listening, but none of them were the ones listed on their promotional material. The outrageous vocals and arrangements reminded me of the Fiery Furnaces and Land of Talk. It is made up of guitars and basses and drums like all the post Pixies indie bands. I haven’t had this much fun since Be Your Own Pet. I can’t assemble these lyrics into any kind of narrative; though Teal Gardner’s vocals are exceptionally clear for what some would call punk rock. She coos, then croons, then belts it out like a banshee. It is certainly experimental, but that doesn’t mean its unintelligible noise.There are no synthesizer cliches, or feedback drones; no samples and no glaringly obvious studio tricks. I would put them in a mix alongside two other bands that are committing the iconoclastic sin of merging math rock with “pretty:” V for Vendetta and Maps and Atlases.  It’s weird yes, but good weird. very good.

Marian Call, Vanilla

Anchorage Alaska
Recorded at Pacific Studios in Tacoma, Washington by Tony Thomas (mixing and mastering)
and by Ryan Brownell at The Garden Recording Studio in Anchorage Alaska.

Marian’s debut album “Vanilla” is warm, quirky, and fun from beginning to end. “Your Fault,” the “Volvo Song,” “Vanilla” and “Rx: Stop What You’re Doing” stand out as highlights, and are full of many lines that will bring smiles to listener’s faces. She calls her self a “square, a “geek” and a “lexiholic,” and in addition to bars and coffee shops has been playing house concerts and Science Fiction conventions. She writes songs about Firefly, yes the Joss Whedon television program, not the genus Coleoptera Lampyridae. “Dark Dark Eyes” is for River Tam. Marian reminds me of two other “library nerd” songwriters, Nellie Mckay and Casey Dienel. Others compare her to Joni Mitchell, and if you like her you should also look up the Homer songwriter Sarah C. Hanson.  Inspired studio performances abound on this gem of a disc. My favorite guest appearance is David Salge on Clarinet on” Vanilla. There are other contributions, David Pew adds accordion and banjo and Paul Pew delivers sparse but soulful piano. These collaborators never distract from what should be front and center, Marian’s genuine, humorous lyrics and her soulful and friendly voice.

Sweating Honey
When We Were Young

Fairbanks, AK
Produced by Luke Beckel and Corwyn Wilkey | Mixed by Sweating Honey | Mastered by Mandy
Parnell at Electric Mastering in London, UK | Recorded at Dome Studios in Fairbanks, AK

When We Were Young makes a great introduction to this party-friendly funk band from Alaska’s Interior. Primary songwriter and front man, Luke Beckel, turns his love of all genres into a thrilling LP.

Though the energy is high, tempos are never rushed or frantic. You can tell these musicians are field-tested and confident. What really gets the listener moving is the percussionist, Nick Shier, and the horn section, bringing a Latin feel to many of the tracks. There are many life-affirming lyrics along the lines of “living without love is like breathing without air.” Two highlights are, “Whatcha’ Gonna Do,” a psychedelic salsa with a reggae breakdown, and “Summer Thang,” where trumpet player Corwyn Wilky puts down his horn and does some soulful lead singing.

“Man on the Moon” is a pleasant piano ballad that may remind some of Ryan Adams, and the exciting “Ezmerelda” tells a story of seduction and murder with a peppy Latin beat reminiscent of Calexico. “Drew Grass” is a peppy bluegrass number with mandolin and tight, restrained drumming.

The album concludes with a traditional tune, “Nobody’s Fault but Mine,” where Beckel shares the vocals with guitar player Drew Frick, bass player Jeremiah Bakken and Wilkey. Each vocalist takes a turn at a verse and the four of them sing in sweet harmony for the choruses. This passionately delivered final track acts as a nightcap after a swinging party; it’s just when the sun is rising and you get sentimental for your family and friends who are far away that Frick howls, “My children, they taught me how to live.”
-Isaac Paris

Tagged , , , , , ,