I've had this blog post sitting in my drafts for a few days, unfortunately, I hate blogging about music, since it's something I have a hard time putting into words, more so for things that I really like. Anyway, it all started when Johnny Bacardi, Matt Springer and I were discussing Jay Bennett's solo work, something I had been pretty unaware of until the last week or so. Then, yesterday I started to see some rumors on twitter, and finally last night I saw my fears were verified on Jim Derogatis's blog. Jay Bennett was dead at age 45.
I was a big fan of Wilco back in the mid-to-late 90's. I saw them a bunch of times (living in their home-town and all) and Summerteeth and the first Mermaid Avenue album rate pretty high on my desert island discs list. However, after the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot fiasco, they fell into the same hole that Radiohead fell into for me. While the ponderous, experimental music both bands have been creating after their popularity peeked may be more artistically rewarding for them, but I much preferred when both bands rocked. Since then, I've kind of listened to each new release with less and less interest.
After our conversations, I picked up Jay Bennett & Edward Burch's The Palace at 4AM (Part 1), used off of amazon (as it looks to be out of print)*, as Bennett's time with the band coincided with the peak of my interest and I was justly rewarded. It's kind of funny that I was completely unaware that Bennett was even releasing solo music, considering that this disc is 7 years old. The album itself is just great. Heavy on Brian-Wilsonesque orchestration and lyrics that I find very similar to Elvis Costello's (it helps that some of the vocals sound like him too). It's pretty much a perfect album to throw on while sitting outside this summer, enjoying a frosty beverage. Here are two of my favorite tracks, first up is one of the more Costello-ish cuts:
Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Whispers or Screams
Next, is one of the best rockers on the album:
Jay Bennett & Edward Burch - Drinking on Your Dime
Obviously, it's pretty terrible that Bennett passed away, from what I've read, he's had a pretty tough go of it the last few years, but things were starting to look up. I look forward to getting into more of his catalog, but I'll feel bad that I won't get a chance to see him live.
*Looks like most of his stuff is available on eMusic (with a few tracks unavailable) and they're also up on Amazon for pretty cheap (though that may change). Also, his most recently released album, Whatever Happened, I Apologize is currently available for free download.