The Glass Notes - Dust & Hours

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The Glass Notes
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Review by Stewart Mason (All Music Guide)****four stars: Prolific singer/songwriter Robb Benson has released nearly a dozen albums, both as a solo artist and with his former bands the Nevada Bachelors and the Dear John Letters, over the last decade, but somehow he's never quite broken beyond a tiny cult following. A Collection of Songs I Forgot to Tell You About is good enough that Benson's relative lack of recognition is quite puzzling: Benson has a solid voice, blending the best aspects of his Pacific Northwest contemporaries Ben Gibbard and Colin Meloy with few of their tics, and his songwriting and production suggest influences that range beyond modern-day indie pop into '70s AM radio territory along the lines of Todd Rundgren's more mainstream albums and the blue-eyed soul of early Hall & Oates. Instantly appealing pop tunes like the country-rocking 'If I Had Met You at 21' and the wry string-drenched melodrama of 'Night Shift Superstar' feature great one-liners in the lyrics; memorable tunes; and clever, varied arrangements. In this context, even potential filler tunes like the brief and largely instrumental 'It's the Same Thing' and the odd wordless moans of 'Exiting Belize' have their charms. The album is somewhat puzzlingly sequenced, with the last third weighed heavily toward solo acoustic ballads that would be more effective if they were salted throughout the album as a whole, but overall, A Collection of Songs I Forgot to Tell You About is good enough to be the album that finally gets Robb Benson noticed. 'Few indie notables juxtapose distinctively personal singer-songwriter sensibility with tasteful rock energy better than Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie; Robb Benson, just snatched himself a handful of Gibbard's Excalibur... his voice charges up the register from fleeting sigh to the most impassioned, individualized wail' -(Seattle Weekly) ABOUT ROBB BENSON: As solo artist and primary songwriter for Nevada Bachelors, Dear John Letters & now Dept of Energy, Robb Benson has released a total of eleven CD's. This number includes his current solo album "A Collection of Songs I Forgot to Tell You About" that you received today. This album is a compilation of unreleased songs that were recorded over the past four years. Each song was left in it's original form as a snapshot to that place in time. The songs span many musical and life changes for Benson, telling his story in their own unique style & vocal content. Benson formed the beloved Nevada Bachelors in Seattle during the mid 90's, releasing two albums on Popllama Records. The band achieved regional success playing to packed clubs in the Pacific Northwest and making respectable appearances on the CMJ charts. Although the Bachelors had amassed a fervent following, the band dissolved in 2000. Robb was approached by the owner of Seattle label Roam Records after finishing a solo show during the Summer of 2000. The label had been a great fan of the Benson fronted Bachelors and was interested in his current plans. A demo of current songs was handed over and in the Fall of 2000 Roam released Benson's gorgeous solo debut EP "Songs About Songs". Soon after Benson found himself writing and recording a rich body of work with his new formed band, Dear John Letters. Roam proceeded to release two full length DJL albums, another Benson solo record, as well as a collaboration between Robb and bandmate Johnny Sangster. Dear John Letters buzz continued to grow through stellar live performances and heavy airplay by influential Seattle radio station KEXP 90.3 FM. In 2003 this buzz caught the ear of LA based label Foodchain Records who signed the band and released "Stories of Our Lives". The record soared up the CMJ charts eventually peaking at #34 nationally. In 2004 the band decided to call it quits and Robb began working on his next album. Benson reunited with Roam Records for his third solo release "The Tree Mind". It received rave reviews locally & nationally. In 2005 Robb was nominated for the third year in a row in the Best Singer Songwriter Category for the Seattle Weekly Music Awards. By years end Robb had put together a band calling itself Dept of Energy. In early 2006, Dept of Energy's debut EP received strong reviews & airplay, while the band attracted new fans in Washington & Oregon based on their highly energetic and entertaining live shows. A full length album is currently being recorded for a February 2007 release also out on Roam Records. Robb's other focus includes composing music for film, TV, video games, and commercial use, as well as directing shorts, video editing and learning the art of movie production. He is in post with several short films and directed a new short this past Summer with a small cast and crew. Robb also has a podcast available on Itunes. THE ROBB BENSON COLLECTION 1997-2006: Robb Benson is the main singer/songwriter on all of the following records, with exception of Sangster Meets Benson, a CD that features back and forth songwriting between Robb and Johnny Sangster. Some of the song lyrics were written by Ben Brunn, Dusty Haze, Mike Squires, Michelle Price, Alex Green, Amanda Mae, Darla Rae Barry Benson, and Andrew Carr. 1997 - Nevada Bachelors "Carrots and So On" - Popllama Records 2000 - Nevada Bachelors "Hello Jupiter" - Popllama Records 2000 - Robb Benson "Songs About Songs" - Roam Records 2001 - Dear John Letters "Rewriting the Wrongs" - Roam Records 2002 - Sangster Meets Benson "Benson Meets Sangster" - Roam Records 2002 - Robb Benson "De Stella Nova" - Roam Records 2002 - Dear John Letters "Unbroken" - Roam Records 2003 - Dear John Letters "Stories of Our Lives" - Foodchain Records 2004 - Robb Benson "The Tree Mind" - Roam Records 2006 - Dept of Energy "EP" - Roam Records 2006 - Robb Benson "A Collection of Songs I Forgot to Tell You About" - Roam Records 2007 - Dept of Energy 'Held by waits' - Roam Records 2009 - Dept of Energy 'Faster' - Roam Records 2010 - The Glass Notes 'Dust & Hours' - Roam Records Along the way Robb has opened for many significant artists including: Death Cab For Cutie, Art Alexakis (Everclear), Matt Sharp (Weezer), Nelly Furtado, Clem Snide, The Posies, Fountains of Wayne, The Presidents of the USA, The Tractenburg Family Slideshow Players, Harvey Danger, The Long Winters, Pedro The Lion, David Garza and too many others to list. Robb is currently recording a full length album with his band Dept of Energy scheduled for release in February 2007 on Roam Records. ROBB BENSON PRESS: "Being prolific is easy. Maintaining consistency and quality is another animal altogether...for a lot of musicians not named Robb Benson. A veteran of Seattle's diverse singer-songwriter community, the Mount Vernon native has morphed admirably over the last decade from leader of Nevada Bachelors and Dear John Letters (which he's still in) into a witty, endearing, one-man lo-fi anthem factory. His vocal repertoire conjures equal parts Michael Stipe, Ben Gibbard, and Rocky Votolato, a perfect match for his introspective lyricism and penchant for sweeping 70's hooks. Benson delivers the instantly agreeable, inoffensively quirky pop that Pinback formerly cornered the market on." (Seattle Weekly) "Benson sent the call out to reform Dear John Letters, but Laton was the only one to agree. Instead of returning to his solo sets, Benson decided to form a new band with Ty (Bailie) and Cassady (Laton). They call themselves Dept of Energy. Three men, no bassist, one hell of an act. Catch them while you can still get tickets. Tyson Lynn ( "They used to be (more or less) Dear John Letters, they're led by singer/songwriter Robb Benson, and they don't have a bass player. They are Dept of Energy and thanks to Benson's stylish songs, they still fit in the Seattle folk/indie drawer. And don't worry, you won't miss the bass. (Seattle Weekly) "Now that quirk-pop band Dear John Letters is now defunct, singer/songwriter Robb Benson has moved on to...yet another quirk-pop band! The shock that Dept of Energy sounds remarkably similar to his first band isn't unexpected, but the debut EP is certainly a worthwhile look...the real surprise is on closing ballad "Lemon" - just Benson's voice and a solo piano is all that's needed to make the most memorable song on the whole EP...the Dept of Energy's future looks bright." Evan Sawdey ( "For a guy who makes as many albums as Robb Benson, it's especially gratifying to see him knuckle down and make a really strong one, which is what he's done with his new effort, The Tree Mind." Sean Nelson (The Stranger) "Robb Benson has a real gift for alternative pop. It's literate, heartfelt, memorable stuff, and Benson is an onstage bundle of nerves and energy." Tom Phalen ( "As always, Benson's poignant valentines are well crafted and shot through with astute rumination and thoughtful one-liners" Jeff DeRoche (The Stranger) "Benson's higher than average vocals verge on gritty and overextended, causing them to sound either rootsily sincere or as escaping from a tortured pop soul." Remy S. ( "If practice does make perfect, Benson might well be on his way to becoming a genius. Following the release of Rewriting the Wrongs, Benson got together with guitarist Johnny Sangster to release a dueling song disc under the moniker Sangster Meets Benson in 2001, and then followed it up with a solo disc titled De Stella Nova in 2002, released almost simultaneously with Unbroken. Obviously a busy man, Benson's gift with melodies and hooks continues to grow" Patrick Schabe ( "Often gentle and wholesome, sometimes acrimonious, Benson's songwriting warmly refers to the Beatles." Corianton Hale (The Stranger) "The vocals of Robb Benson are strong throughout this album. Indie pop melodies on songs like "d's song", compare the band to other indie pop greats like The Velveteen. Certain songs take on a more blues rock sound and you can actually hear Elvis Costello influence within the songs. His vocals are soulful layers to an eclectic collection of music, including the track "& the sky stops", which can be compared to the piano driven music of Ben Folds. Benson adds a new level to Singer/Songwriter." MP (Impact Press) "Centered around multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Robb Benson, Dear John Letters' third full-length album establishes the band as an ever more unique force in American indie rock." Stein Haukland ( "a perennial hometown favorite on the verge of greater success. Both solo and with his two bands...Benson marries lo-fi introspection with big, bright '70s chords and hooks. So maybe he's Seattle's Alex Chilton except without the creepy subtext and classic-rock baggage." (Seattle Weekly) "The Tree Mind has all the traits that has made Benson so successful with his various projects of the past. The clean electric guitars with catchy riffs are everywhere, except in the tracks where acoustic guitar is accompanied by layers of vocal harmony, such as the brilliant "Melvin's Declaration to the Universe." Imaginary Joe ( "Robb Benson - Known as a member of Dear John Letters, this guy has the most impassioned singing I've heard in a long time - just belts 'em out from the heart." ( "Tree Mind picks up the straight-ahead indie rock torch. By keeping his eyes and ears on melody and hooks, and bringing together a number of highly talented musicians for a broad-based effort." Arim Karim Nazir (Splendid) "terrific fragile and heart soaring indie pop from Robb Benson and company" (Anchorage Press)

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