Ben Sommer
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Ben Sommer

Rockland, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Rockland, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Rock Rock


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"Album Review of Ben Sommer's America'd"

Dr. Demento may not be doing his radio show, but his spirit is alive and well online (link). Dr. Demento's radio program was designed to find the funny, quirky songs that got stuck in your head for days. He launched Weird Al's career and can be blamed for that Grandma Reindeer song.

Somehow, Ben Sommer stumbled upon this site and he has become my best critic. I appreciate a good rogering and it is impossible to offend me, so I appreciate the style Ben brings to the article of nearly complete bullshit I write for this sight.

Ben has been lying in the digital bushes to come up and surprise sex my ears. How long Ben has been lurking is anyone's guess. He sent me his album America'd for review and it is a brutally honest take from a guy who looks like a dejected Moby.

Adult Children starts out like Jackson Browne's Somebody's Baby and a lot of memories flooded my head thinking back to Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They quickly went away when I started listening to the lyrics.

The song is Ben's smart and observant take on the "adults" these days. "I want a bottle and a diaper. I don't want to face up to the real world." Perfectly describes these fucking douchebag hipsters waltzing around New York City refusing to get a real job and sipping coffee in Starbucks. The song's "waa waa" mimicking a baby's cry provides the sing a long part of the song and it is brilliant. I can see a crowd of Adult Children singing it and being EXACTLY what Ben talks about in the song.

The guitar solo in Adult Children is completely unexpected and contains hints of Dick Dale, George Lynch, and Esteban. Yea, that guy that pitches his guitars on QVC. Adult Children is the perfect single for the album as it speaks the truth and is catchy at the same time. Submit this to Dr. Demento Ben. He still does a radio podcast, which you can find here.

Speekie Engrish is the second song on America'd and it is about....well I think you can figure out what this song is about. The song tells a hilarious story about an immigrant coming over thanks to Clinton's Whitehouse amnesty and refuses to learn English. It starts out similar to a Rush song, in fact, I am confident that if I snipped the first 10 seconds and played it for you, you'd think it was Rush. This song has the most diverse music journey. It runs from a punk song, to progressive rock, to even a bit of glam.

It is obvious that Ben's tongue is firmly planted in his cheek and his lyrics on Little Hitlers prove that. Little Hitlers is a song about politicians that apes almost directly the guitar rhythm of Iron Maiden's The Trooper. I am not exactly sure why Little Hitler's needs the sound of galloping horses (as was intended by Iron Maiden), but it made me gallop. Even the chorus pays homage to Iron Maiden's The Trooper.

There are songs that I can't listen to at all and those tend to be the ones with too much going on. Songs like Baby Mother has horns, sax, organs and they really detract from the song. The songs that use this are staunched heavily in the experimental prog rock of the 70's (see King Crimson, Captain Beefhart to a point).

Henry Kissenger starts out like an Irish love song, but quickly degrades into an atonal verse mess. The horns are providing the riff through the verse and it's tough to hear the heavily distorted guitar, bass, and good drums laid down by George Arsenault.

I have to give mad props to Ben and Martin Haroutunian for the use of the lesser known woodwind, the duduk on the song Sumerian Proletarian. It is used similar to how the flute is used in most of Jethro Tull's songs, tasteful and poignant. This is also a song where the organ and piano do not distract from the song and the lyrics.

Ben writes all the lyrics and performs all the bass, vocals, and guitar parts, which are all performed at a much higher standard than we are used to over here. Ben was classically trained and that plus 3.50 will buy you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Sommer is a renaissance man for a time when zero people are enlightened. Way to aim high Ben! Ben also hates money, which is why he is giving away all his music for free. You can get downloads of his songs at his personal website, and send him a bunch of hate mail if you are Republican or Democrat. I am part of the Sith party, which Ben doesn't seem to have an issue with.

If you are a fan of smart, insightful, politically minded progressive rock music, your only choice is Ben Sommer's America'd. Check out the stop motion video for Adult Children below. It is artsy and showcases Ben's fetish for dish cleaning gloves and tea lights. -

"Sounds like Jello Biafra on vocals!"

Writing and music are ways for Ben to vent on politics and economic matters. His musical background lies in Prog Rock and Classical Compositions.
The first thing I have to say is that I really like this album. Edgy, political Prog rock it's described as by the man himself. To me it sounds like Jello Biafra on vocals, which I enjoy a lot. It's a lot more rocky and fast paced than I expected it to be before I listened to it. Sorry to be so vague, I'm having a hard time trying to pigeonhole this! -





Full interactive bio is here:

1984: acquired drum set for 10th birthday
1988: acquired guitar for my 13th birthday
1989: Grew hair long, learned to play every track on Iron Maiden's Live After Death
1990: Recorded first original rock tunes with my teenage basement band. Silly little things - now long forgotten - inspired by Rush, King Crimson & early Genesis
1992: Premiered my first legit composition - "Sommertime" - for the New Canaan, CT High School Jazz Band. A wretched, derivative work borrowing heavily from a China Crisis tune
1995: Won a concerto competition playing the "Stairway to Heaven" of the classical guitar repertoire: Concierto de Aranjuez. Also won a composition competition with an original piece for Piano Trio. A good piece, with just a few embarrassing moments.
1996: Gave up on a promising classical guitar career over tendinitis. Succeeded in a 2-year long quest to get cured.
1997: Learned to hate the state by working as a substitute teacher in various government schools. Cultivated a scowling, contrarian world view, suitable for my going-nowhere music career
1998: Full-on obsessed with minimalism (Reich) and neo-third stream hacks like Louis Andriessen. Composed many works in the style
1999: Half-hearted attempt to write post-modern literature. Self-published a book of short stories & poems, distributed to <10 friends and family
2000: Graduated from Graduate School as a "master of composition" - a pleasant 2-year distraction that's taken nearly a decade to recover from
2001: Became self-taught technologist. Bluffed my way into my first legit day job
2003: Produced first full-length art rock album - "Super Brain", immediately shelved as "too un-commercial"
2004: Wrote a follow up to "Super Brain" full of political & social rants - code-named "Right Wing Fiend". Recorded first track - "Speekie Engrish" - before being leveled by a tsunami...err...the birth of my first child
2005: Spent all free time between baby-this and baby-that either A) napping, or B) discovering radical, free-market economics
2006: Emerged from near-drowning (tsunami #1) just soon enough to record the rest of "Right Wing Fiend", then leveled by aftershock (child #2)
2008: Mortgage, day job, family. 34th birthday - early mid-life crisis. Gained then lost 50 pounds. Swung at - but missed - a half dozen get-rich-quick ideas. Began chewing on two Zoloft pills/day
2009: Kicked self in pants and got back to music. Completed tracking and recording of "Right Wing Fiend" - renamed "america'd". Learned the basics of music mixing & mastering from an online Berklee College course. Completed first mature mix - "Adult Children"
2010: Released "america'd" and set 5-year plot in motion to dominate the niche of edgy, political prog rock. Came out of the musical, social and political closet to all my friends & family