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Ben's Brother
Beta Male Fairytales
Virgin Records
www.bensbrother.com


Between the folksy musings of James Blunt and the heart pounding rock of OneRepublic lies England's Ben's Brother whose new release Beta Male Fairytales has a similar cooing to O.A.R. with softly textured summits and comfy crevices riding through their songs. The band does not push the envelope per say, but they show themselves to be exceptional songwriters with a certain mastery of sonically pleasing melodic rock melodies. Produced by Martin Terefe (KT Tunstall, Tristan Prettyman), the band's songs congeal like the ingredients for Hollandaise sauce, taking dry and liquidity elements and making them into something that causes the tastebuds to crave more.

The rhythmic tumbles formed by drummer Dave Hattee and bass guitarist Dan McKinna produce a faint echo beneath the soaring vocals of lead singer Jamie Hartman. Guitarist Tim Vanderkuil sets the mood of the songs with the bowing in his chords, making soft curls through "Rise" and mid-tempo cuts along "Kiss Me Again." The inclines made in the piano phrases by keyboardist Kiris Houston add series of sweet-tempered embellishments that vibrate fragrantly along the melodic frames of "Time" and "Bad Dream." The lyrics depict someone whose head is filled with stardust but whose feet are firmly planted on the ground, like in the song "Beauty Queen" when Hartman sings, "She's a beauty queen/ And if you are gonna cry, don't cry for me/ Cos from here on the ground/ The truth I have found is we all fall down/ Yes we all fall down."

There is no doubt that the songs were made to be radio-ready, but to meet that end the band did not have to sacrifice any part of their folk rock tablatures. There are no odd ends in the melodies, nothing like processed beats or a shot of hip-hop to give the album a commercialized urban-pop sound that would stick out like a sore thumb on a folk rock album. The songs all sound like they are cut from the same cloth without ever repeating their melodic patterns and stitching. The music has a natural feel that unmistakably tells audiences what this band is about, although Beta Male Fairytales sounds more Americanized than anyone would expect from a band whose homestead is in London, England.

Formed in 2006, Ben's Brother is the creation of lead vocalist Jamie Hartman who came up with the band's name. As a little boy, he was always in his big brother, Ben Hartman's shadow, and therefore, he grew up being referred to as "Ben's brother." The name struck a chord with the other members when they were searching for a band name, and the rest of their story is illustrated in the band's debut album Beta Male Fairytales.

-Susan Frances


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