Benjamin Stranger showcases his newest anthem with “Summer Alone”

LA Music Review | Art, stories and advice

Upbeat and catchy!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hi Benjamin, congrats on the release! What was your inspiration when you were writing this project?

‘Summer Alone’ originated from a BOOM BAP drum loop and synth pad demo created by my close collaborator Trace Faulkner in the anxious days of March/April 2020. We admire a long line of BOOM BAP rock/pop anthems from The Weeknd’s ‘Blinding Lights’ to Rod Stewart’s ‘Young Turks,’ and relish the opportunity to write upbeat, hooky pop songs with contrasting dark, dystopian lyrics.

Both the ‘Misshapen Id Remix’ and the upcoming single ‘Summer Alone’ are doorways into the conceptual nature of the album and I’m especially proud of the multi-character aspect of the vocals. Such storytelling elements are reflected in our video for the Misshapen Id Twanas Remix, but fractured and distorted to the point that reality and surreality are indistinguishable, just like our present-day cultural landscape.

The Big Summer Single is a recurring trope in rock history and we want in, but reframed into the dystopian landscape increasingly on display every day and explored throughout the album.

What lessons would you like to impart with your audience?

Generally speaking, Summertime puts a pep in one’s creative step.

There is still a feeling of freedom and possibility associated with Summer, even for those out of school or seasonal work. As someone who can be seasonally affected and whose emotional/creative life is definitely cyclical in myriad ways, Summer often offers a sense of rejuvenation, of flowering from the rebirth of Spring.

The song ‘Summer Alone’ stands in contrast to this sentiment, though, with the lyric expressing concern at NOT feeling that rejuvenation due to the absence of someone else, someone that’s been lost.

This speaks to some overall themes of the full record–unfulfilled expectation and fractured identity in a topsy-turvy, uncertain and potentially artificially generated future.

Start streaming “Summer Alone” here:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is your favorite part of this body of work?

It was a blast crafting the lead guitar line and allowing myself to emulate favorite players from Nile Rodgers to Robert Quine to the pinch harmonics of Robbie Robertson in different parts of the song.

Future releases? Upcoming events?

Tentatively titled ‘Fare Thee Well, Follower’ and coming out late Summer/early Fall, the full-length project is our first headlong jump into a ‘conceptual’ piece or, dare-I-call-it, a ‘concept record.’

I’ve always loved the idea of concept records, rock operas, visual albums, films like De Palma’s ‘Phantom of the Paradise’ with Paul Williams or Sam Shepard’s play ‘Tooth of Crime’ that featured rock songs in a dystopian landscape. ‘Tommy’ by The Who was a great favorite of mine as a kid, along with The Kinks’ ‘Arthur’ and many others. This record, though, has something more in common with Ween’s ‘The Mollusk’ or ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ or Tom Waits’ ‘Franks Wild Years,’ stuff that is loosely held together by themes, references and ‘vibe’ rather than direct narrative storytelling.

The title references a suite of songs that frame the beginning, middle and end of the record: ‘Followers,’ ‘Followers Interlude’ and ‘Followers Reprise.’ The suite sarcastically charts the evolution of artificially intelligent social media algorithms from their seemingly benign beginnings to their ascendance as humanity’s first mass-scale, interactive test with A.I.

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