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CD: Brendan Benson: My Old Familiar Friend

With Raconteur bandmate Jack White off making music with The Dead Winter, Brendan Benson is left to his own devices on “My Old Familiar Friend.” Lucky us. The 11-track album is a cornucopia of cascading keyboards, jangling guitars, and shiny pop hooks.

Kick-off track “A Whole Lot Better,” in particular, grabs a hold of your eardrums and won’t let go. Deftly describing the eve of a break-up, Benson sings, “I fell in love with you, and out of love with you, and back in love with you, all in the same day.” Factor in a melody so infectious that you’ll be singing it for days afterwards and you have a gorgeous slice of pop perfection.

Other numbers like “Eyes on the Horizon,” “Gonowhere,” and “Feel Like Taking You Home” are just as crushworthy. Wings, Big Star, and Todd Rundgren are the album’s obvious touchstones, but Benson has a few surprises up his sleeve too.

Brendan Benson.

Brendan Benson.

The discofied “Garbage Day” sounds like Badfinger by way of Giorgio Moroder. Over creamy, Philadelphia International-style strings, Benson makes like a masochist and croons, “If she throws her heart away/I’ll be there on garbage day.” On the New Wavey “Feel Like Taking You Home,” he does an about-face and channels astringent rockers like Joe Jackson and Graham Parker.

There’s not a single weak link on the CD. From the first note to the last, Benson’s “Friend” casts a serious spell.

Release Date: 8/18/09

Official Site:


Photos courtesy ATO Records.

[Amy Longsdorf’s entertainment coverage has appeared in Blender, People, the Chicago Tribune, the Toronto Star and Newsday. She doesn’t want to imagine a world without Preston Sturges movies, Stax singles, and the music of Bob Marley.]

About Jenny Peters (168 Articles)
Jet Set Jen is the brainchild of Jenny Peters, a longtime freelance journalist whose career has spanned everything considered "Lifestyle" reporting, from movies and celebrities to fashion and fast cars, with plenty of food, wine and travel thrown in too. She currently contributes regularly to USA Today's,, New York Magazine, Coast Magazine, Bask Magazine and numerous other newspapers, magazines and websites worldwide. She is a founding and voting member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (, which annually honors the year's top films with the Critics' Choice Awards. Jenny and her crack cadre of reporters at Jet Set Jen offer up opinions, suggestions and insider scoops on the best that the world has to offer, to keep you on the cutting edge of that ever elusive pursuit of life, liberty, happiness – and fun, fun, fun.

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