Ben Abraham – “You’re hiding like a memory… Calling to the weakness in my soul”: The Independent (May 19, 2016)

Written by Erica Andreozzi

I am very surprised that I never stumbled upon Ben Abraham when I was living in Melbourne last year (Jan – May), as I would have surely stopped in my tracks if I heard ‘Speak‘ as I passed by the usual buskers on Melbourne’s famous Bourke Street (wonder if he ever busked there). Speak is surely one of the standout tracks (in my opinion) on his debut album, Sirens (Secret Canadian).

A son of two Indonesian rockstars (both parents in a successful 70’s pop group called Pahama), Ben had music in his blood, and his relentless urge to “SPEAK” would eventually manifest into a musical masterpiece that would speak to more than Melbourne. “I never wanted to be a musician… I always wanted to be a filmmaker, and although I never quite made it down that path, that desire I had to tell stories still came with me,” Ben said to the crowd that night at The Independent as the opening act for the fantastic Damien Jurado (see review here). Ben’s desire to tell stories soon became a regular routine at his day job entertaining children in hospitals in Melbourne; Eight years later, he honed this craft into the beautiful album (Sirens) that has been sending SIRENS across international boundaries (esp. the UK, US and Canada). This album was recorded with a rotating cast of friends and collaborators including Gotye and Tim Shiel, as well as longtime friend Sara Bareilles (‘This is on Me‘).

Previously having played at Holwer in Melbourne (where I last saw Harrison Storm and Daniel Champagne) and the Servants Jazz Quarters in London (where I last saw Samantha Crain, Ben was eager to announce that tonight was his “first time in San Fran, and actually the first ever tour in the states.” Sporting a right red Hawaiian shirt and big grin, Ben (who usually is “not a fan of doing covers”), was all amped up and feeling “beachy enough” to cover what he thinks is “one of the greatest songs ever written,”Hyper Ballad‘ by Bjork. (He should definitely apply to play Iceland Airwaves… it was one of my favorite festivals of all time!)

 

As if that didn’t raise enough hairs on our arms, he followed with a gorgeous track called  ‘Home‘, and then with the epic encore of ‘Speak.’ Speak is a gorgeous song that just builds and builds with awesome anticipation, and by the end you might find yourself wiping tears off your face. The honest, timid lyrics about ‘wanting to communicate with others but somehow being pushed away’ is definitely a shared struggle most of us face, especially with the recent explosion of social media, and I hope we can all take Ben’s song as a call to humanity for deeper human connection. If the emotive, echoing effects of his vocals in the mic towards the end don’t “SPEAK” to you, then I’m not sure what will. Be sure to grab a copy of the album!

The World is Crowded (playlist: June 20, 2015)

The World is Crowded

(compiled June 20, 2015)

 LONG OVERDUE (travel got in the way) playlist inspired by recent albums and recent live shows from two of my FAVORITE ARTIST, courtney barnett​ and Unknown Mortal Orchestra​ (UMO). It’s also heavily inspired by two incredible Melbourne-based artists, Harrison Storm​ and Kagu​, that I was lucky enough to discover and to watch live in Melbourne. It’s also inspired by new albums from Alabama Shakes​, Sufjan Stevens​, and Twerps​. Every song on UMO’s new album is ACE, but I particularly drawn to ‘The World is Crowded’ because of the catchy, soulful lyrics and siiiiiiiiiiick guitar. Can’t not help get FUNKED UP with UMO. Sooooo lucky to have catch them at tiny venue in Philly this week. ENJOY!

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Here’s a Spotify playlist with most of the songs (some still missing):

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You can download all of the songs (out of order) from my link on Box.com
https://app.box.com/s/pacgzqggd12gaad0g7lt0x58vmojbufl

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Multi-Love- Unknown Mortal Orchestra    

Human- Kagu

Sense Of Home- Harrison Storm       

Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go To The Party- Courtney Barnett         

Little Nowhere Towns- The Tallest Man On Earth     

Like Acid Rain- Unknown Mortal Orchestra   

Be Yourself- Harrison Storm

Cry No More- Vaults

Jacob- Kagu

The World Is Crowded- Unknown Mortal Orchestra 

Satellites (Radio Edit)- Mew

An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York)- Courtney Barnett    

Future People- Alabama Shakes        

Ur Life One Night- Unknown Mortal Orchestra       

Darkness Of The Dream- The Tallest Man On Earth  

I am Destructor- Theo

Shadow of the Wind- Kagu

Can’t Keep Checking My Phone- Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Soubour- Songhoy Blues  

The Moon Is A Magnet- Jon Foreman

Body of Work (from GENERALS)- The Mynabirds     

The Misunderstood Judgement of Stones- Kagu

The Words You Say- Harrison Storm

Debbie Downer- Courtney Barnett    

Terminal (from Sunlight)- Jon Foreman        

Seventeen- The Tallest Man On Earth   

Simple Feelings- Twerps

Necessary Evil- Unknown Mortal Orchestra

Let the Record Go (from What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood)- The Mynabirds           

The Only Thing- Sufjan Stevens