Gig Seeker Pro


Band Alternative


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


The best kept secret in music


"Weekend/On The Town"

Benna 'What's Meant To Be' (Adult Swim)

'Nasty little secrets / Burning up my bed / Things you couldn't hold up to the light,' sings Benna on 'The One For You,' a track that appears midway through her third album. But even when the lyrics on 'What's Meant To Be' are barbed and ominous, the New York-based singer-songwriter never comes across as just another rock scold. She's a dyed-in-the-wool pop romantic, drawn to wistful reflections and sensuous ballads.

'Bloody Red,' a strings-swept musing, is typical of album's moody charm, insinuating melodies and surreal imagery. 'I was just walking and smoking a memory,' the singer confides in a hushed soprano. 'Joking 'bout nothing to no one I knew / To myself to the only one willing / forgiving of how I walk in my shoes.' Suffice to say that Benna isn't kidding when, on another song, she whispers, 'It's a crazy maze I bring to you.' But no matter: What her songs lack in cold logic they make up for in atmosphere and lyricism. What's more, it's hard to imagine many struggling musicians not recognizing at least a glimmer of themselves while listening to 'Unlisted,' which reads like a page torn from a road journal.

Not everything here is introspective. Yet the best songs, including the mostly muted 'Stay In Luv' and the album's acoustic title track, have a way of sneaking under your skin.

-Mike Joyce - The Washington Post

"Voice Choices - Benna"

The vocalist's waterfall clarity skates on her guitar's rock-fuzz strength and drum's fervent drills, creating a nice balance between indie-angst and alt-anger. I hate those terms. They don't mean anything. It's a good thing Benna means something. Enjoy her triumphant, mostly ethereal moments disguised in sometimes somber lyrics. Well, maybe words matter. (King)

- The Village Voice


What's Meant To Be (Adult Swim)

It's benna six years since Benna's 'Greetings From Port Authority' received lavish praise from everyone from CMJ to snowboarding magazines to Seventeen. 'What's Meant To Be', the long-awaited (six years!) follow-up, is the premier offering from Jeff Nelson's (Minor Threat) boutique label Adult Swim.

After finishing her tour in support of GFPA, Benna hooked up with producer Louie Lino, best known for the theme to TV's 'Politically Incorrect', to take her sound to the next level. Determined to produce a worthy successor, the two indulged in the studio, letting the songs ferment over time. The result is a polished, mature, cohesive work that rivals any singer-songwriter team working today. Benna has a surprisingly youthful and sensual voice -- a convergence of Sheryl Crow, Jewel and Laetitia Sadier (in English, of course). She also plays acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards and most of the bass lines. Guest drummers Ira Elliot and Paul Garisto, from Nada Surf and Psychedelic Furs, respectively, lay down beats on a few tracks apiece. The rest of the instrumental action is provided by producer Lino, including an exquisite pedal steel, which adds an alt-country flavor to 'Half A Girl' and 'Simple Days.'

'What's Meant To Be' doesn't hit you all at once; it seeps into your psyche when you're not paying attention. I caught myself humming the catchy hooks from several of these songs, and I hadn't even realized that I remembered them. On 'Arrive', Benna sings of a lesson she's learned along the way: "Without seams / Without hurt / No one needs to know the dirt / If you arrive / As long as you arrive"; she's backed by a lush, Sgt. Pepper-style chorus of multi-tracked voices. She invokes Lou Reed's 'do-do-do-do-dee-do' from "Walk on the Wild Side" in "Half A Girl", and the "Rocket"'s hook hearkens back to the summer of 1980 and "Jesse's Girl". But Benna is not nostalgic. Her lyrics dwell on such subjects as fate (the title track), taking responsibility for decisions ("Walk Away"), and not giving up on dreams ("Dreams I Say"). Though her voice can be playful ("Little Bit More"), it is always mature, and confident.

Benna is an example for the record industry. Instead of rushing a new release onto the market to capitalize on favorable reviews and song placement in MTV's 'Road Rules' and independent films, she took time to hone her sound, write good songs and make the record she wanted to make. The result is an impeccable produced gem. There are no less than eight standout tracks here, and the remaining handful are like the bottom of the roster of an all-star team -- well above average. Benna's songs resonate with feeling and swagger that is not only refreshing, but a testament to taking time to do things the right way. -- Steve Nelson

originally posted at: - Splendid E-zine

"Ink19 Reviews"

What's Meant To Be (Adult Swim)

NYC popster Benna has a lot of good things going for her, but what really sets her apart on her third release is the sheer impact and innovation of her songwriting. Her songs are crafted but gently playful, profoundly bittersweet but teasing and always riding on the right side of cliched summer pop. Where other artists might have ended up in pastiche and irony, Benna's intimate sincerity marks her out as someone far more intriguing and interesting than most of her peers. With her perky voice and disarmingly honest musical approach, her songs may use 1990's indie pop as a reference point, but they retain their uniqueness and contemporary DIY texture.

A multi-talented artist herself, Benna is helped out by a couple of special guests, including producer/musician Louie Lino who lends her some vitally creative support throughout. A track like 'Medicine' bears some resemblance to Kristin Hersh, while 'Half A Girl' is a brilliant piece of jangly power pop, and 'Arrive' a splended musical - influenced psych-pop number. The over-novae 'Rocket' is the only misstep, but fortunately does not detract from the immense power of this rare talent. 'What's Meant To Be' sets Benna miles apart from your regular indie popster, and is essential for anyone who ever wondered if there was life beyond the grrrl movement of the mid-90's. -- Stein Haukland

originally posted at: - Ink19

" :: Reviews"

Benna - What's Meant To Be
9 out of 10

I feel at a loss for words to describe this record. Writing good record reviews requires an ability to use language in a unique fashion constantly - you can't just call everything "Alt Rock". That's why we have all these fancy genre-words that are, for the most part, both meaningless and pretentious. So what would I call Benna's latest release? How does alt-pop-singer-songwriter-acoustic-rock-wickedness sound? Pretty bad, huh? Alright. I now present to you, the faithful reader (or viewer, depending on how you think of this interweb experience), a list of words I thought of when listening to Benna's 'What's Meant To Be.'


Limited? Yes. True? All of them. It's difficult to put together words in the right order to describe this album. The experience of listening to it is not so easily documented as others. It is an album to feel, rather than think about. It creates a world for you to explore, while constantly reminding you of the voyeuristic nature of your visit. Benna's lyrical abilities, combined with stellar musicanship and production, have created a beautiful album in the form of 'What's Meant To Be.' If you're looking for something a little different, and are willing to open up to your stereo, Benna may have what you are looking for. -- S. Sutherland -


Of the many albums I (have to) listen to in the course of writing my music articles, there are thankfully a number of albums that I actually enjoy on a more personal level than to just write about. One of the albums that enjoyed a relatively lengthy stretch in my CD player these last few months was New York singer/songwriter Benna Cohen’s What’s Meant To Be, which was released sometime last year.

The reason you may not have heard much about it might be because (a) it probably didn’t make it into the pop charts; (b) it’s not your average mainstream album; (c) it was released on a small US indie label mainly for local consumption or (d) all of the above. I have to admit that, prior to getting hold of this album (thanks to Beangrowers manager Luigi!), I had only heard of Benna when I had come across her site while surfing the net. It turns out that despite her American nationality, her roots are very Maltese, as she clearly explains on her website, which further increased my interest in what she was up to.

Looking every bit the bohemian artist that her softly spun music conjures, Benna’s career so far has attracted a sea of positive criticism, brought on not just by her live performances, but also her recorded work to date. Taking her cue from what critics described as the tripping and infectious melodies of her acclaimed debut Greetings From Port Authority and blending them with a more composed approach, Benna has created something of a quiet storm on What’s Meant To Be, her latest release.

Although brandishing a defined acoustic backbone throughout its 53 minutes, this album also boasts open flirtations with stimulating arrangements, which are vital in bringing out the melodies further to the fore, which can be heard as clearly on the flowing Simple Days as on the soothing Bloody Red, both tracks among the best here. Enlisting the help of Ira Elliott (of Nada Surf) and Paul Garisto (ex-Psychedelic Furs) to lay down the drum tracks, Benna played most of the other instruments, which helped preserve the personal feel that is so vital to her music.

It is this same intimacy, present whether she is gently strumming her way (Arrive, The One For You), slipping in a harder edge (All-Star, Simple Days) or just weaving sonic dreamy textures (Medicine, Dreams I Say), along with the existing chemistry between her lulling melodies, candid lyrics and her unsophisticated overall approach that make this record so significant and lasting. Listening to this album brings on a blur of echoes of PJ Harvey, Kristin Hersh and Suzanne Vega’s individual contemporary approach, held together with a lingering vintage sensibility reminiscent of the 60s troubadours! -- Mike Bugeja   
- The Malta Independent

"Sturm und drang"

By June Pineda

As her name suggests, there is nothing predictable about singer-songwriter Benna, who offers up 14 romantic pop songs on her third album, “What’s Meant to Be.” Benna’s tunes might seem typical of the music playing in the background of a Dawson’s Creek episode, yet her lyrics are impressively mature.

“The One for You,” a rich acoustic ballad accompanied by whispered sopranic vocals, is characteristic of most songs on the album: “I don’t want to know the whys / The disappointing facts of our lives / I just want to keep it tight / Under locks you can’t break open / Let’s keep thinking we’re mistaken / And then no one has to leave in bitter cries.”

But the most skillful lyrics on the album show up in another ballad, “Bloody Red”: “I was just walking and smoking a memory / Joking ’bout nothing with no one I knew.” Benna then confesses, “I like the breeze of you, I’d like a piece of you / Sorry I wish but I can’t give you life / Charging and storming regardless in spite of / What some may think of my fire.”

The song demonstrates Benna’s flair for writing about the tragedies of love. Absent, however, is the low-spirited mood characteristic of other romantic pop ballads. Rather, Benna’s insightful lyrics sing of inner-strength and self-empowerment without sounding scorned.

Another song worthy of mention is “Unlisted,” where Benna tells her audience about the “empty hours” and “drifting weightlessness” she endures on tour. The lyrics speak to beleaguered musicians and fleeting college students alike, and are undoubtedly more introspective than a teenage girl’s journal entry.

After having tirelessly performed in New York City clubs, Benna is following up her latest release with an extensive solo tour. Not all of her tracks are ripe, but “What’s Meant to Be” is a solid attempt at balancing heartfelt lyrics with conventional pop. You’ll quickly find yourself humming to her melodies.

Benna will perform with Malachi Constant, Hockey Night and Salubrious Invertebrae at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Eclipse Records, (651) 698-0908, all ages, free. She will perform with Tora Tora Torrance, the Douglass Kings, Jesse Willis/Mike Midwestern and Huge Rat Attacks at 6 p.m. Saturday at Fireball Espresso Cafe, (651) 647-1887, all ages, $6.

originally posted at: - Minnesota Daily


What's Meant To Be (Adult Swim) 2003
Greetings From Port Authority (Evil Teen) 1996
Tunnel Tunes (UnderGirl) 1994


Feeling a bit camera shy


Described by the Village Voice as "an accomplished popster" with a "glow-in-the-dark voice," Benna's songs are one part confessional, one part observation and one part imagination.

Her first effort 'Tunnel Tunes' was released on her own label Undergirl Records in 1994, when she was performing regularly at the old Sin-e club in NYC and needed to sell something in response to the demand from fans. A collection of songs produced in a lo-fi, luscious style, the release caught the immediate attention of press and music lovers alike. CMJ Futures described 'Tunnel Tunes' as a "striking selection of musical works" and praised it's "alluring melodies".

Her next offering, 'Greetings From Port Authority' (Evil Teen, 1996), marked a new direction. Borrowing fellow musicians from NYC bands-- Alice Cohen (bass) from Die Monster Die, Greg Griffith from Vitapup (lead guitar and producing) and Garry Sullivan (drums), Benna let her new collection of songs come alive with a real band. The hi-lite of working with a band was getting to play a rare string of shows with Benna on electric guitar at a bunch of NYC and regional clubs including CBGB's. Seventeen Magazine enthusiastically praised the release as "Loaded with pop hooks;" and CMJ assured that "when it comes to infectious melodies, Benna's got them in spades."

After a couple of years of shows with and without a band, Benna was ready for a more challenging approach to production, and with an open mind, gravitated in a new direction without a net. One night, following a show at Fez, Benna met producer Louie Lino, friend of a friend, who took an immediate liking to Benna and her music. Offering to put some songs to tape, the two fused a new creative partnership that lasted a few years and resulted in Benna's third release 'What's Meant To Be' (Adult Swim Records).

At Lino's studio on Bleecker Street and Broadway, they created a lab of sorts, fleshing out ideas and going out on a limb creatively using drum loops and programming and indulging in synth lines and layered vocal tracks to create a lush production style to feed the imagination. Benna also loved making her contribution more thoroughly with electric guitar, bass and keyboards. The beauty of having such toys at their fingertips was the ability to take advantage of it when it fit and abandoning it when it just wasn't necessary, leaving some tracks stark with just a minimum of production and acoustic guitar and vocals. With this kind of philosophy, taking track by track as individual entities, 'What's Meant To Be' breathes easily and unpredictably.

Through Lino, Benna befriended Ira, Matthew and Daniel from Nada Surf, becoming mutual admirers. Ira lent his drums on a few tracks as did Paul Garisto (Psych Furs, Jesse Malin, Cantinero). If there was more time, the songs would have flowed even more seamlessly, but eventually, life's demands took over and the project was abandoned in the 11th hour.

With 14 songs in all, Benna contacted friend Jeff Nelson (Minor Threat) at dischord to catch up and let him know about the stuff she had for listening. Jeff and Benna became friendly over time after he caught her shows at Iota in Arlington, VA. Jeff loved what he heard and offered to put the songs out, as is, on his own boutique label Adult Swim, which had also put out early Girls vs. Boys. Working with someone like Nelson truly appealed to Benna, who was determined not to let the songs languish in obscurity; so in January, 2003, they released 'What's Meant To Be' on Adult Swim.

The Washington Post called Benna "a dyed-in-the-wool pop romantic, drawn to wistful reflections and sensuous ballads". Time Out DC said: "To call Benna a more talented and more incisive version of a classic 1970's songwriter (maybe Carol King?) would be to cheat her outright, but her work is possessed of such a timeless sense of beauty and insight that it's hard not to think big when considering her talent."

Embarking on a grand US tour, Benna looped the country all on her own with just acoustic guitar in hand. She hit the road with a furious kamikaze determination, playing all kinds of shows; from coffeehouses to all-ages to clubs and radio stations. She picked up new fans everywhere, promising to return and only wished there were 3 of her so she could tour the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast simultaneously!!

for video performance and other stuff visit: