Three Bens for the Price of One

The Bens (Attacked By Plastic)
The Bens

By John Bohannon

Wow! Ben Lee, Ben Folds and Ben Kweller all mushed into one songwriter super group - fans must be thinking this has to be something spectacular. In most ways, they're thinking pretty clearly.

Already friends, the Bens decided to jump on the tour bus together in Australia. While in the process they put together a four-song EP. Ben Folds, who was coming off two recent solo EPs, was used to this sort of atmosphere, while this was a new experience to Lee and Kweller.

Signed on to Dave Matthews' ATO label last year, Ben Kweller has developed a large grassroots following, based on his strenuous tour schedules and big-time college radio play. Meanwhile, Ben Lee recently released a new album that received much praise from critics and his following is growing by leaps and bounds.

Now you're probably wondering what this collaboration actually sounds like. Well it's a variety of twists and turns that are quite positive and uplifting. It hits on a positive level three out of four times. The acoustic-based and folksy "Just Pretend" was written in a rather unusual way, with Ben Lee initially playing a basic guitar rhythm. All three artists then went off separately and wrote a verse each, eventually producing the outcome. "Xfire" is a rocking collaboration from the three Bens. To add up this song up, you take the bass riff from "My Sharona," any '80s synth-pop keyboard riff and vocals that slap Rick Springfield straight in the face.

The downfall of the EP is "Stop!", a rather boring effort from Ben Kweller that sounds like a solo effort outtake. Ah, but Folds' "Bruised" is one of those tracks that will stick on your brain for days, so if you don't feel like humming all day, I suggest that you not listen to this one.

As this is a popular selection of many, it may be hard to find the EP. It can be ordered from www.attackedbyplastic.com

or bought locally at ear-X-tacy.

With four songs recorded in four days, this is a surprisingly glorious effort by friends just having a good time. Is there a full-length album in store for the future? Who knows ... but until then, this will have to make do.