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Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker
(ATO)
3 out of 5 stars

Infusing blues basics with punky, garage guitar rock wasn’t even new when the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the White Stripes or the Black Keys started making the genre cool for the Y generation.  And Florida’s Benjamin Booker isn’t taking it anywhere it hasn’t already been on his high profile, stripped down debut for Dave Matthews’ label. But by adding a bit of Velvet Underground-styled repeated riffing, throaty, grainy vocals and an aesthetic that can best be described as raggedy to the bare bones formula, he’s being hailed as the next big thing.

Whether he can follow up this strong, unvarnished debut remains to be seen, but Booker surely feels comfortable whipping off gnarly, often distorted and psychedelic guitar licks over skeletal bass and drums backing. The production is the very definition of homemade low-fi which adds to the overall charm of music that wouldn’t connect with anything more polished. At times Booker sounds like a young, angry Paul Westerberg if the Replacements’ frontman was anchored by blues.

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