Ben Krieger
Gig Seeker Pro

Ben Krieger

Band Rock Americana


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


The best kept secret in music


"Review of *Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea*"

"Imagine the Dead Milkmen had come to praise ELP, not bury them. Imagine they had Prince, doped up and wearing a Fender, ball and chain at center stage. Or possibly Dave Pirner. Now you are in Ben Krieger's mind, a fluffy, stuffed animal-lined playroom, where he can use his low tech arsenal to create the ultimate Jellyfish Assassin Rock Opera, *Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea*."
- grandpaboy.blogspot

"Review of *Now We Are Kissed*"

"On *Now We Shall Be Kissed*, Ben is in a mellow mood. He's turned off the Browns' game, had a couple too many beers, and his iPod is stuck on Heartbreaker. Most delightful is 'A Couple of Drinks.' I always wanted to walk into an empty bar and see Randy Newman and Paul Westerberg sitting together. Mind the psychotic teddy bears." - grandpaboy.blogspot

"Blurb for *A Fine Line Between*"

Well-produced rock band. Interesting songs, some cool guitars. Trying to get to X. Sounds like Athens, GA.

Drivin' & Cryin' & cryin' & cryin'.

Hybrid Magazine
Denver CO. USA. - Hybrid Magazine

"Review of *Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea*"

"In the 3+ years I've admired the talents of Ben Krieger, I should have expected something this grand could come from his little bedroom computer recording setup. He has always been an immensely gifted songwriter, writing an obscene amount of songs each year (and obscene amount of them are really good). But the past year or two have seen him progress even further. The country-rock kid with his heart on his sleeve acquired the confidence (after a few years co-fronting the band Gun Street Radio) and skill to incorporate other styles and sounds into his songwriting. He has been one of New York's best kept secrets in the singer-songwriter scene for quite some time, but this recording proves that he lives with an entire band, complete with a choir and string section, inside his head. It is a logical progression. It is only fitting that someone with such an immense record collection of metal, punk, 70s coke rock, prog, psychedelic, pop, jazz, etc. acquires the confidence as a songwriter to embrace all the sounds swimming in his head.

This is why this album, recorded by himself at home on his computer, works so well. This CD showcases his prog side, his orchestral pop side, and his quirkiness in addition to his established sound. Through his newly-purchased computer recording setup, he gave himself the tools to give voice to all those various sounds. It's nice to see someone with a home computer recording setup put the songwriting first and use the digital bells and whistles sparingly (when it actually adds to the song). He is able to multi-track vocals, have drum sound options, add moog sounds, string sounds, effects, etc. So as lo-fi as it may appear to some, I see it as a lush representation of what he's actually trying to convey, of all the sounds he must hear when he writes even the simplest folk ditty.

As for the songs, *Stingra* alone is worth the price of admission. Though I was familiar with his love of prog, I was not expecting a 14-minute rock opus about a bionic jellyfish hired by the CIA. The various parts that make up *Stingra* are impressive enough on their own, but for the most part they blend together well as a unit. It's a fun 14 minutes, but even with the obvious fun Krieger has with playing musical dress-up, his sincerity (his songwriting's vital, ever-present force that separates him from most NYC poseurs...) is always apparent. How does he deliver lyrics about a bionic jellyfish sincerely? I don't know, but I swear I can picture a tear streaming down his cheek when he delivers the lyrics about the CIA betraying *Stingra* and planning his destruction. Throughout the 14 minutes you can hear traces of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Supertramp, Randy Newman, Lindsey Buckingham, Jethro Tull, and the Beach Boys as well as a not-so-subtle nod to Roger Waters. A more subtle nod to the gods of prog occurs at the outro where Krieger seems to be mimicking Steve Howe's intro to Yes's *And You and I.*

The rest of the CD holds up well next to the opus. *21st Century Omnivore Boy* is a bizarre pop song in the vain of Robyn Hitchcock or Bob Pollard that will leave you with various lyrics about food stuck in your head for days. The deconstructed intro reminds you that Krieger finds his newfound recording setup as fun and wondrous as a kid in a toy store. As for Bob Pollard, if you're going to write a song called *F--king Bob Pollard* (the EP's hidden track) you'd be hard pressed to do better than the chorus of *F--king Bob Pollard/F--king Bob Pollard into the sun.* The whole thing reeks musically of the twisted joyous pop that was GBV and the images Krieger induces may actually conjure up images of a naked Bob in your bed. *Lady in Black* and *Place Marker,* aside from being great pop songs benefit greatly from the sparse tension of cheap home recording. *Lady in Black* is gleefully ridiculous but is delivered just as sincere as the heartfelt *Placemarker.* Plus Lady in Black has one of those great vocals where the singer tries to hit a note, but can't and the fell of the song is all the better for it. *History Rebeats* is a quality, stripped-down folker in its own right but is clearly outshone by the surrounding tunes. My favorite song on the record is *You Are My Honey,* a perfect sugary love song. Fun, child-like lyrics try to mask the depth of the sentiment, but as always he'll only let you smirk so much before you realize just how damn good the song is.

I like the hell out this record."

--Jarrod Ruby - Big Star Someday

"Review of *Drama Queen*"

From: A strange wasteland between Williamsburg and Hudson County called "Manhattan".

Format: This is a long long-player. Twenty-one songs stretched out over two imaginary sides; sixty-six minutes of Krieger's music.

Genre: Singer-songwriter. I would even say "Asbury Park singer-songwriter", but for the unfortunate fact that Krieger isn't from Asbury Park. All of the elements of Asbury music are here: wistful, traditional folk-rock songs, a voice that sounds channeled from classic radio, insecurity, the winter wind blowing through the amusement park.

Arrangements: Strummed acoustic guitar, lead electric, some bass, machine drums playing rock patterns, backing vocals at all the appropriate moments. Krieger knows the trick of making his electric sound like a pedal steel by rolling the volume pedal back and forth. Hey, it always works.

What's this record about?: Heartbreak, romantic failure, feelings of inadequacy. Krieger's narrators all seem to be in the midst of breaking up, getting left behind, being spurned. They maintain tremendous humanity throughout, though, taking their blows with dignity. Ironically, the key to understanding and inhabiting Krieger's perspective might be the one non-love song on this collection of twenty-one tracks: "Five-Foot Three", which finds the hero at a rock concert, unable to see over the perms and mullets of his fellow concertgoers. "If I had one wish...", sings Krieger, with a longing that can't be counterfeitied. The stories play out against a New York City backdrop of bars, record shops, streetsm subways and apartments. But these narrators aren't partygoers or barflies -- they're just Manhattan citizens, hoping that a few extra inches might make all the difference.

The singer: Krieger sings in a classic Seventies quaver; he sounds like he's stepped out of a Bread album cover. He can do Seventies-rough just as well as he can do Seventies-sensitive, too. Even when he loses pitch, he does so with the charm of Mick Jagger. He recognizes his voice is an asset -- it's mixed to the front of almost all of these tracks.

The band: This is song-presentation music. Krieger has stories to tell, and the instruments are supporting characters; outlines, really. The rock and roll drum programming is effective, even if the patterns feel pre-set at times. Some of the best songs, like "Jarrod and the January Girls", are just guitar and voice: strummed or twinkly patterns on the acoustic, ballpoint-thin lines of electric lead. The twin guitar logic might remind you of...

The songs: The liner notes to Drama Queen end by letting you know that Mirror Blue is "now playing" in Krieger's house. Honestly, he didn't have to tell us. On a few of these songs, he's practically on a Vincent Black Lightning. But if you're going to wear your influences proudly, why not pick the best? If Drama Queen reads as a lo-fi version of the lighter side of Richard Thompson's Capitol records, well, that's not criticism, that's praise. This is traditional British and American folk-rock songcraft. Krieger has an ear for pleasing melodies, too, and the variations on his basic songwriting logic never sound reiterative.

What distinguishes this record from other records of its genre?: If you're going to be in anybody's presence for over an hour, you'd better find them likeable. Krieger understands this instinctively -- or perhaps he doesn't need to. At any rate, he's an sympathetic writer, and manages to animate his characters with warmth, frailty, and humanity. The stretch of songs from "All My Tears" to "Jarrod & The January Girls" is an arc of great beauty and poise.

What's not so good?: Drama Queen was recorded on Cakewalk software, which does allow you to quantize. Still, many of the parts here don't exactly sync up. Some of the guitar sits poorly with the bass and/or the machine drums. I'm not a fascist about compression, but still, I have to wish that the vocal signal here didn't drift quite so much. Moreover, though it's not as bad as its t-shirt title makes it sound, the "Beer Won't Break Your Heart" scenario is beneath Krieger. I know that Richard Thompson also liked to throw in a few substandard tracks on his records just to keep his audience honest, but still, Drama Queen probably could have benefited from a final edit.

Recommended?: I recommend that everybody in Asbury Park (particularly Tommy Strazza, whose music Drama Queen sometimes resembles) extend honorary membership in the Jersey Shore scene to Ben Krieger. I also recommend that they drop whatever the hell they're doing at the Stone Pony and get Krieger up on stage to play "Denver". That room was built to air songs like this one.

Where can I get a copy/hear more?: As you might have ascertained by now, Krieger is a real sweetheart, and a booster of local music. His Gun Street Radio site promotes his music, but also provides links and descriptions of other local acts in Krieger's orbit. He's a community-builder, and his generosity extends to his album notes. Drama Queen comes with two red cardboard inserts containing all the lyrics, and some very winning explication of the recording decisions. And in a rock scene cluttered with bands twisting your arm to "play loud", Krieger includes a memorial picture of an old pet, and insists "this CD should not be played until you've walked your dog". Sympathetic to the end, this guy is.

- Jersey Independent Music


Now We Are Kissed EP (2005)
Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea LP (2005)
Pirate Radio EP (w/ GunStreetRadio - 2005)
A Fine Line Between LP (w/ GunStreetRadio - 2005)
Drama Queen LP (2003)
4-Way Break-up EP (w/ GunStreetRadio - 2002)
The Wasabi Recordings LP (2002)
Keeping The Day Job LP (1998)
I Know What You're Wearing EP (1997)


Feeling a bit camera shy


The following biography was created by a fan on Ben Krieger's Ad Lib Biography Page. You can read this blend of truth and fiction or feel free to make your own! (

In a downtrodden corner of Cleveland, Ohio, somewhere north of the Nimbatubutu River, one can still find Jean Charles's Guitar Shop. It is here that an 18-year old Ben Krieger bought his first guitar for $77, using the money he made by walking pet rhinoceroses for upper-class families on the other side of the tracks. There’s a hunger in his songs that could only stem from such a unique, lower-middle class childhood. Rock critic Chuck Rudolph noted as much in a review of 2003's "Drama Queen" record: "In the spaces between each delectable pluck of a guitar string, one can practically hear the sound of crying rhinoceroses, and the material is that much more compelling."
As prolific as Mozart, as lyrically gifted as Cyndi Lauper and as white as Dido, Ben is on a journey of the heart and soul, spinning tales of dismemberment as easily as he does tales of heartbreak. He's a political writer as well, setting his sites on such topics as bear management...and always skewering his targets mercilessly. In fact, in the spirit of Prince's "Black Album" and Brian Wilson's "sMile", Ben Krieger fans can be found scrambling on message boards for bootlegged copies of "Third Time's the Charm, You Bastard" his unreleased triple-length concept record that attacks John Kerry over the course of 180 minutes.
In 2005, Ben released (in all seriousness) three CDs: "Queen of the Ocean, Commander of the Sea" (a prog-folk outing), "Now We Are Kissed" (a pedal steel-laden geek-folk outing with the Modern Major Generals) and "A Fine Line Between" (a glossy production with rock band GunStreetRadio). Simply put, it would be difficult to find an artist as creative, as vital, or as neurotic as Ben Krieger. To ignore his music is to do so at your own peril.