One of the joys of my life is that my teenage daughter has impeccable taste in music. By that I don't mean to say she likes everything I like. That actually would amount to a certain level of taste on my own part that I do not claim. Our relative musical leanings could be charted with a two-circle venn diagram, with the overlapping part making up the majority of the surface area. (I have this buddy, Jay, who lives in San Diego. I don't really know what he does, but I do know he can do awesome venn diagrams. If I can find one of his old ones, I'll try to link to it. They're freaking awesome. You don't think a venn diagram can be awesome until you've seen one of Jay's.) But she can't stand some of the harsher crap I play, and sometimes she'll put something on that she thinks is great but which is unidentifiable as to genre, unless there is a genre called Utter Shite.
But were it not for her, we'd never have played bands in our house like Neutral Milk Hotel, or Silver Jews, or, more recently, Girls and Frightened Rabbit, and bunch of others. For whatever reason, I'd considered and never pulled the trigger on any of those bands, and she thankfully corrected those mistakes. Then there are the times she'll bring something home that I've not only not considered, but never even heard of, and one of those times is what this post is about.
A couple of years ago she put on the album Ghost, by a Jacksonville Beach, Florida musician named Ben Cooper who records as Radical Face, among other things. She said 'you have to hear this.' I probably responded with an appropriately skeptical "you have just wasted your money" paternal grunt or something, and then was pretty much blown away at first listen. It's so expansive and beautiful that it's hard to believe it was recorded in a bedroom studio by one guy. It's mercifully spare in electronics, and rich in acoustic guitar -- except where the drama of a symphonic flourish is necessary.
Really, though, the best way to describe it is to say it's a movie score looking for a Wes Anderson film. Here's a really nice video for the first proper song on the album, "Welcome Home.
The album didn't receive many reviews when it came out in 2007, and those it did receive included a few tepid responses. I think full-on terrific, all the way through. Here's another track off Ghost, called "Wrapped in Piano Strings."
I found myself checking up on Radical Face recently and discovered they/he released a 6 song EP, Touch the Sky, via Berlin's Morr Music, and that the plan was to release 3(!) full-lengths, 40 songs all told, during 2011. Apparently a dispute with the label erupted, and the damned lawyers got involved (imagine: German Lawyers! Ja vohl!). Now he appears to have put that behind him, and is planning to do the releases himself. I'll keep an eye out, because who doesn't want to reward that kind of DIY spirit? Here's a really nice tune from the EP, called "Doorways."
Radical Face website -- Ben's a really good writer. Check it out.