Benji Hughes
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Benji Hughes

Band Alternative Rock


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"New York Times Review"

With his drowsy voice, his living-room-style productions, his slacker look and his understated lyrics — "Every now and then I wonder where you are," he drawls — Benji Hughes plays down the work ethic that put 25 tracks on his two-CD debut album, "A Love Extreme" (New West). Mr. Hughes, who's from North Carolina, has simple needs — "Tight T-shirt on a real sweet girl" or "All you've got to do is fall in love with me" — and sidelong ways to approach them. He often comes across like an American version of the British songwriter Badly Drawn Boy, though with better quality control.

Mr. Hughes is casually tuneful, fond of Beatles-ballad chord progressions, observant and droll; he knows when he's come up with a hook to exploit, but he's also wily enough to make some songs meander and take last-half detours. While "A Love Extreme" includes some indulgences, particularly on the second disc, most of the songs are endearingly blurred pop.

- New York Times


A Love Extreme



Meet Benji Hughes, self-proclaimed friend-o-phile. Hailing from Charlotte, North Carolina, Benji spends much of his time masterminding his blend of inventive rock and ballads. At times earnest, at others whimsical, Benji is equally adept at keyboards and guitar. He loves beer but he loves women even more. Underneath his thick mane of strawberry blond hair and beard is a versatile singer/songwriter, full of heart. His music
collection -- spanning everything from The Crystals, Merle Haggard, and Kinky Friedman to Talking Heads, The Cars, and Slayer -- is as wild as his gracious exterior.

Producer and L.A- bred session musician Keefus Ciancia (T-Bone Burnett, Sheryl Crow, Everlast) assisted Hughes in making his 25-song debut album in his Silverlake, CA studio cover a four-month period last year. A Love Extreme flows like your favorite mixtape but with the classicality of Randy Newman and Leonard Cohen. Ciancia doesn’t hesitate to champion Hughes’ genuine approach to his artistic craft. “The way he writes lyrics and melodies, Benji finds a way to get into your brain. The way he does things is the way he
lives his life. On the piano, he’s freaky because he just sits down and gets into this trance mode. It’s like a beer coma and his hands just kind of take off. It’s just kind of natural to him. He’s an amazing guitar player, too. He did most of the guitar stuff on A Love
Extreme. It’s totally out of control.”

Whether he’s gushing about women and relationships or pining over heartbreaks, Hughes has a penchant for perfecting great pop songs. From the danceable “Tight Tee Shirt” to the synth-slathered vibe of “Why Do These Parties Always End the Same Way” and “Baby, It’s Your Life!” Hughes’ barefaced humor is instantaneously charming. Even during the more dour moments such as the melancholic “Love Is a Razor” and the majestic, piano-driven “Even If,” Hughes nails it each and every time.
“[Songwriting] is something that makes me feel good. I just gravitate to it,” Hughes says. “It’s just me being honest with myself. If it wasn’t something fun, I wouldn’t be doing it.”
Other standouts include ballad “All You’ve Got to Do Is Fall in Love,” the ‘70s-singed riffage of “Vibe So Hot,” and the old school hip-hop flavors of “Ladies on Parade.” “I Went With Some Friends to See the Flaming Lips” is another automatic classic-in-the-making, and something Ciancia can personally talk about it.
“Benji took me to my first Flaming Lips show and he showed up to my house in a bunny suit,” Ciancia says. “I was like, ‘Whoa, what are we doing?’ He was like, ‘Just trust me,’ and we drove to the Palladium. Once we got there, he just took off. But later on I saw him on stage dancing with the rest of the animals.”