Ben and Vesper
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Ben and Vesper

West Orange, New Jersey, United States | INDIE

West Orange, New Jersey, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ben + Vesper, HONORS / 84%"

This shouldn’t work. A band fronted by a husband-and-wife duo who lifted their name from a tree trunk and whose songs casually mention phone calls, sports cars and overdraft protection sounds far too…precious. But Ben and Vesper Stamper are no cutesy twee-sters. No, Honors is a major set of big-time bedroom pop, grand enough to matter and particular enough to find meaning in the quotidian: a shirt is lost, a father accidentally erases his son’s VHS. Producer Daniel Smith ropes in hand-wrung guitars and padded pianos, balancing the boom of Ben’s baritone against the golden peal of Vesper’s alto. And while they manage to wile-out and get psychedelic, they’re at their best when they’re most vulnerable, as on Communion ballad “Consubstantiation,” whose chapel-high keys rattle the stained glass while Ben tolls out like Scott Walker on Sunday morning. Vanities be damned; this works. - Filter

"Ben + Vesper, HONORS / 6.3"

Close couples often develop their own shared language, a matrix of references and associations that hold unique meaning for the pair. A husband and wife who record and perform music together would seem like strong candidates for being so intuitively intertwined. It'd certainly go a long ways towards explaining the strange folk-pop made by Ben + Vesper.

The world of marrieds Ben and Vesper Stamper is an appealingly odd one, where mundane chores and concerns rub shoulders with snatches of allusive poetry. A typical song on Honors, the duo's sophomore full-length release, will fancifully sketch an image of birds that "soar above and back and forth in woolly skirts" and then moments later earnestly ask, "Are you getting six-plus hours?/ Is your will and testament in order?" Actions and situations that might seem banal had they been laid out as conventional narrative get infused with wonder and intrigue when placed under the Stampers' stream-of-consciousness spell. "Cell phone rings, a mother sings/ Or shopping for a bathing suit," the pair reports, but before you have a chance to find the thread, they've moved on to imaginatively observing, "Carpet socks and static shocks/ Children wield electron fields."

Ben + Vesper's music, while superficially your standard organic-feeling indie-folk, also seems solely beholden to its own internal logic, with melodic passages frequently broken up by abrupt riffs or discordant tangents. Such persistent tonal shifts theoretically suit the lyrics well, but they lack oomph and often set the duo's songs to meandering when sharper contrasts might've been genuinely thrilling. I look at what Ben + Vesper are doing as being conceptually similar to the Fiery Furnaces or even Pavement. The difference is that the Friedbergers and Stephen Malkmus invest their hodgepodge lyricism with abundant urgency, turning nonsense or banalities into fervent mantras and giving their quixotic tales the push and pull of real drama.

The Stampers, meanwhile, shy away from the loud-soft dynamics that could make even their most obtuse lyrical wanderings feel charged with clear-eyed significance, and only occasionally grasp the importance of giving their listeners an anchor amidst all the associative leapfrogging. When they do hit on a refrain, however, the effect is always galvanizing, and it really doesn't even matter what words they're intoning-- "Style went to sleep tonight," "Label your junk or lose it," and "Thanks to a fireball" all work just fine when repeated several times with obvious feeling. Those phrases all look pretty inscrutable on the page, but it's in these moments that Ben + Vesper most sound like they're speaking a language everyone can understand.

— Joshua Love, February 7, 2011 - Pitchfork

"Ben + Vesper, All This Could Kill You / 7.5"

All This Could Kill You, the debut LP from husband-and-wife/mother-and-father team Ben + Vesper, is rooted in the profound minutiae of life with children: These are American folk songs, about feeding kids on a bloated credit card, remembering caustic childhood taunts, putting books to sleep, daughters, shoddy report cards, a square meal and a round of drinks. Ben + Vesper's jangly weave of guitar, accordion, organ, piano, and drums might be richer and bigger than their acoustic guitar-and-campfire predecessors, but these are songs for everyperson, tough, frank, and, miraculously, never the least bit precious.

Occasionally, Ben + Vesper's doting coos and warm freak-folk(ish) pop can prove reminiscent of other (equally whimsical) boy-girl outfits-- the Handsome Family and Ida, in particular-- but All This Could Kill You (which follows a seven-song EP, More Questions, released earlier this year) is boosted into distinction by Danielson/Danielson Famile mastermind Daniel Smith's rich, cuddly production: All 13 songs here are impeccably recorded, tender, balanced, and gorgeously organic. Smith's label, Sounds Familyre, is releasing the record, and elsewhere on the album, Smith's fingerprints are equally indelible: All This was recorded in Smith's studio (the New Jerusalem Recreation Room, deep in Smith and the Ben + Vesper's home state of New Jersey), and incorporates the contributions of plenty of Smith's pals and former collaborators, including Famile member Elin (also Smith's wife) on backing vocals, Famile member David (also Smith's brother) on drums, and longtime Famile accomplice Sufjan Stevens, who offers up banjo, recorder, piano, oboe, percussion, and backing vocals. Likewise, Ben's big brother and childhood friend-- Josh Stamper and Chris Weisman, respectively-- add arrangements and man various noisemakers, from guitar to marimba. All that friend-and-family closeness leads to songs that feel especially easy, which each musical piece slipping into simple, hand-holding harmony.

While the record's melodies are, for the most part, uniformly sweet and memorable, Ben's big, booming vocals (offset, naturally, by Vesper's breathy murmur) provide a welcome shot of weird: on opener "Door to Door", Ben bellows "They will reach out and hold on to you/ Go on, introduce yourself or they will do it for you"-- and while he may be speaking about any number of benign things, the line turns more dark and sinister with each deep, baritone rumble, the kind of warning you're sure to heed. "Rockaway Twp." is a sharp acoustic/accordian throwdown (that half-sounds as if it could have been plucked from the new Vetiver record), a rare piece of beauty culled from a town better known for its strip malls (that ends, appropriately, with the caveat "I wanna live in the country"). All This Could Kill You is packed with grim observations and impressive sonic flourishes-- enough to make you wish you had more talented friends.

— Amanda Petrusich, May 1, 2007
- Pitchfork


HONORS (January 2011, Sounds Familyre Records)
LuvInIdleness (February 2010, Sounds Familyre Records)
All This Could Kill You (May 2007, Sounds Familyre Records)
More Questions EP (Nov. 2006, Sounds Familyre Records)

Ben + Vesper are on rotation on radio and internet stations.



“Married couple Ben and Vesper sing together in haunting duets that sound a lot like two Disneyfied hyenas, yowling at each other as they strategize and finally corner a zebra.”
Alex Konye, Vue Weekly

Ben + Vesper are that musical married couple from NJ. They are the ones that are dually described as “lightly entwined earthbound angels” and “two Disneyfied hyenas, yowling at each other.” However you choose to describe their sound, it’s agreed that Ben + Vesper are a fresh, strange and important voice growing strong in the indie music world.

Since joining up with Sounds Familyre in 2005, Ben + Vesper have been busy recording, performing and collaborating with the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Daniel Smith (Danielson), Kurt Weisman (Feathers) and Chris Weisman (Happy Birthday). As a band, Ben + Vesper is a musical spectrum. They are the full-on five-piece rock outfit, or the intricate and dynamic duo, or the high school theater pit band. Ben + Vesper’s versatility on stage and in the studio comes from their love of working with musicians from different genres and backgrounds, while Ben + Vesper’s vocals remain always at the helm.

Ben + Vesper’s first full length entitled All This Could Kill You (Sounds Familyre, 2007) earned hefty praise from Pitchfork with a 7.5 rating, in addition to being featured in Magnet Magazine’s “Magnified” section. All This Could Kill You also attracted many positive reviews from print and web-based publications, including Paste, Dusted, Anthem, Harp, Venuszine, American Songwriter, Under The Radar and Relevant. To support this release, Ben + Vesper toured the east coast.

The 2010 release, LuvInIdleness (Sounds Familyre, 2010), is a five-song pop anthem produced, arranged and recorded by Sufjan Stevens. In tandem with the release of LuvinIdleness, Ben + Vesper produced their first music video which was premiered on Stereogum. Drowned in Sound described the title track in their “Singles of the Week”, describing it as “a terror to type it is heaven to listen to…” Paste Magazine highlighted LuvinIdleness in their recent “Best of What’s Next” interview with Ben + Vesper.

2010 also found Ben + Vesper on tour with Danielson, being featured on Weathervane’s Shaking Through series, playing at SXSW, at the Egersund Visefestival music festival in Norway, and at POP! Montreal to enthusiastic fans.

Ben + Vesper’s second full length album (their fourth release on Sounds Familyre), HONORS, was just released in January 2011. Their single, My Father’s Eyes, premiered on Stereogum in October. HONORS was produced by Daniel Smith and Brian McTear and includes contributions from Sufjan Stevens and Holler, Wild Rose! members John Mosloskie and Steve Oyola, as well as Josh Stamper of Danielson. These three musicians provide the virtuoso rhythm section who are currently performing with Ben + Vesper as part of their live shows.