Album Review: Benjamin Booker (Self-Titled)
Review by Molly Mollotova
For Fans Of: Courtney Barnett, The Districts, Alvvays, Hanni El Khatib, Royal Blood, Hamilton Leithauser
Twenty-five year old, New Orleans-based Benjamin Booker has burst onto the music scene with his self-titled, debut album that’s jam packed with all of the gritty, blues influenced, rock-n-roll you can handle. Citing influences such as T. Rex, Blind Willie Johnson and The Gun Club, it’s easy to see how Booker could create so many perfectly raw and tortured tracks. We recently included him in our list of picks for The Top 20 Most Underrated Artists Of Lollapalooza 2014 (see here).
The album, produced by Nashville favorite, Andrija Tokic of Alabama Shakes fame, includes a variety of tracks all deeply rooted in southern rock and the blues. The slamming distortion of the guitars combined with the raspiness of Booker’s voice evokes comparisons to the type of dance music that parents used to warn their children about. He howls through tracks such as “Always Waiting” and “Violent Shiver” with enough force to cause even the most immovable listener to twist and shake in their seat. One of the most haunting tracks on the album, “Spoon out My Eyes” begins with a chilling whisper of vocals that gradually builds into a fast paced whirlwind of soul. And don’t skip “Have You Seen My Son”.
Booker’s renegade rock-n-roll sound has been catching the attention of some big names in the music industry, including Jack White, who tapped Booker earlier this year to open for him on his most recent tour in support of his new album Lazaretto. With the Lazaretto tour having just ended in July, Booker will be continuing on a tour of his own beginning tonight in San Francisco and capping off at Voodoo Fest on November 1st in New Orleans. After listening to this album, almost non-stop, since it’s release yesterday, there’s no doubt in my mind that this will easily make it into my top 10 albums of 2014.
If you’re a fan of bands like The Heavy, Alabama Shakes and the White Stripes, I highly encourage you to give Benjamin Booker a listen. I promise you, you won’t regret it.