Free Music Friday With Brendan Benson And Lissy Trullie
Welcome to another edition of Project Rhythm Seed’s Free Music Friday. Today we are pleased to bring you two acts who have nothing in common with each other, except for the fact that they will both be appearing at this year’s South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas.
The first artist is Brendan Benson, who has been busy up until recently with Jack White and The Raconteurs. His new album What Kind Of World comes out on April 24th on his own Readymade Records label. Our second artist is a young woman named Lissy Trullie who we really like a lot. She takes what she needs from the early Pretenders sound and makes it modern and unique and all her own. Her self titled debut album is out now. We hope you enjoy both of these artists. Remember to support your local musicians by getting out and seeing some live shows, and buying new music. We’ll see you next week for more.
As much as the story behind Brendan Benson’s fifth solo album is the story of making a record, it is also a story of finding a family — of love, marriage, the birth of a son, and of another kind of family too: one made up of all of the musicians, music-lovers and friends, who have helped to make these songs and build a label to carry them.
Over the years, Benson grew accustomed to doing things alone, releasing four solo albums to date, starting with 1996’s One Mississippi and followed by 2002’s Lapalco and 2005’s Alternative to Love. After a brief hiatus when he co-founded The Raconteurs and spent a few years touring and releasing two albums with them, he made a return to solo work with 2009’s My Old Familiar Friend. It was around this time that he also decided to relocate from Detroit to Nashville, a move that would set in motion events and relationships that would eventually form the backbone to his latest offering, What Kind of World (Readymade, 2012).
“Marriage and having a kid was the big thing,” Benson says of the years between this record and My Old Familiar Friend. Having welcomed his son, Declan, in the spring of 2010, the effect on his music was apparent: “I think it’s given me a whole new motivation, a new vigor,” he says. “If I was having a doubtful moment, I could think of Declan and think ‘I’m doing this for him.’”
The multiple outside sources of inspiration and the support from family and friends have left Benson truly excited with What Kind of World. It also helps that it passed the test with his ultimate critic. “When I got my record back from mixing, I knew I had to listen to it,” Benson recalls. “My wife, Declan, and I were all in the room, and we cranked up the volume. Straight away Declan started dancing. He was throwing it down, he just wore himself out by the fourth or fifth song. And then he fell asleep in my arms. I walked around the room with him like that, and it was the coolest, most perfect thing. I knew, then, that I loved my record.” Listen and download “Bad For Me” from What Kind Of World:
The world at large got its first glimpse of Lissy Trullie by virtue of an arresting image taken by Ryan McGinley for his groundbreaking 2002 Whitney Museum exhibit, The Kids Are Alright. A young Lissy, balancing brashness and innocence, leaped past a graffiti-ed bathroom wall, a pale, freckled sprite with strawberry blonde hair, serendipitously snapped as she dashed through an otherwise gritty tableau. Trullie has matured a lot since then, turning slimmer, more angular and intriguingly androgynous, her hair cut in a severe bob that Audrey Hepburn might have sported if she’d hung out at the Mudd Club. But the music she has created for her self-titled debut album is a lot like that famous McGinley photo. Dirty guitar sounds and driving, new wave-tempo drums are countered by swirling synths, brass, and layers of vocals, a beguiling mix of the earthy and the ethereal — with the riveting figure of Trullie at its center.
A Washington D.C. native, Trullie came to New York City to study art at Parsons, but her real passion was music, which has obsessed her for as long as she can recall: “My earliest memories are of listening to music on the radio or seeing a band on TV and knowing that I wanted to do that. I didn’t come from a musical family, so I had to beg, beg, beg my mother to buy me a guitar or get me piano lessons. Finally, when I was eleven, she got me a guitar, but the deal was that I had to learn classical guitar – – and I did. And I never put the thing down. I went home every single day after school and played guitar and wrote songs, which I think is kind of unusual for a little kid. I wrote a ton of songs.” She laughs. “I still have some of them. I wasn’t learning the guitar so I could play wailing solos or do stuff like that. It was more like, now I know the basics, I want to write songs.”
Trullie’s self titles debut LP is coolly confident in feel, its mostly brisk punk foundation yielding to memorable pop choruses along the way, especially on “Big Heart” and the reggae-tinged “It’s Only You, Isn’t It.” Her voice and presence is commanding throughout; with her elastic singing, she comes across at times like a modern-day Chrissie Hynde. But the artful precision of the arrangements belies the more spontaneous nature of the sessions, as Trullie reveals: “I think the benefit of working with John Hill and Dave Sitek (producers of her record) is that there was no mention of pressure, and they had zero rules. It was just free-form creativity, any wacky suggestion was taken, and that’s how the sound of the record happened. That style of working just suits me very well.” And now, here is Lissy Trullie’s “It’s Only You, Isn’t It” from her self titled album: