Ben Hassenger
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Ben Hassenger

Band Folk Children's Music


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"Blue Jello's disc 'Life Is Good' is rife with domestic contentment"

Blue Jello is a duo: longtime pals and Mystic Shake bandmates Pat Malloy and Ben Hassenger.

In a three-year period, they've been more visibly active than their "main" band (maybe it's just too cold for them to come out), and their debut CD - "Life Is Good," released just this week - is both overdue and welcome, with the let's-have-fun attitude and snappy songwriting that rules Mystic Shake intact.

Both guys play lots of instruments, including all the bass parts, but it's Hassenger's acoustic rhythm guitar and keyboards, and especially Malloy's hyper- accomplished lead guitar, that float to the top. It was recorded at home, and sounds it; although post-production from Kalamazoo's suddenly ubiquitous Ian Gorman makes the CD shelf-ready.

With the exception of Jackie DeShannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" - given an Afro-Caribbean twist, goosed by Malloy's shiny guitar riffs - all the songs are originals, and both guys, Malloy in particular, are adept pop songcrafters.

"Life" is rife with domestic contentment, although only one of the love songs - Hassenger's comically catchy "You're My Favorite Everything" - seems to be about another human being. Five songs - fully half the album - are about pets: four about dogs, one with goldfish. The anthemic "Little One" sounds like a lullaby to a sleeping child, except for the line about chasing squirrels.

Pet fixation aside, "Life" is strewn with treats: the irresistible pop catchiness of "Flippy & Max" with its transcendent guitar break, a richness of harmony vocals from guests Annie Capps and Jen Sygit, even the cover drawing, from local poster-art icon Dennis Preston.

"Life Is Good" is not a particularly ambitious album, and its strummed-guitar, pop-folk sensibility may make it seem fluffier than it really is.

But a well-constructed batch of songs that are pointedly not driven by rage, heartbreak, alienation, existential angst, etc., etc. - well, it can be downright refreshing. Hey - life is good!

- Chris Rietz - Lansing State Journal


"Life is Good!" BQM0208, released in February 2008, label bQuiet Music



Ben Hassenger and Pat Malloy, long-time bandmates in the popular Lansing, MI combo Mystic Shake ( formed Blue Jello in 2005 to write songs for submission to movies and television. The next thing you know they were performing live and recording "Life is Good!", full of fun music for the young-at-heart of all ages. They are now touring to support the CD, playing various selections from the album along with other originals. (Go here for our complete schedule: