Gig Seeker Pro



Band Americana Singer/Songwriter


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



"Review of "Songs for the New Depression""

"There's a good deal more to this music than its solid blues foundation. Highly musical synth work, fuzzed-out guitars and sinister vocal effects evoke a whole gamut of experimental rock, from Chrome and the Residents to Beck and Laurie Anderson. But Ratliff's most original contribution is his fusion of grinding industrial beats with deeply felt, smoky blues guitar. Moodwise, he can almost out-grim Townes Van Zandt or Jim Morrison ("My Days" even talks about a "lost highway," while "Drive All Night" evokes "Riders on the Storm"), but the clanging beats strike the perfect tempos to keep the listener grooving through it all."
- Kosmicblues.net

"Review of "Misplaced Desire""

Ben Ratliff's* EP "Misplaced Desire" is a double-barrelled blues shotgun, powered equally by Ratliff's icy baritone vocals and his and Jeff Winter's chunky guitar riffs, with support from a solid rhythm section and production that strikes a good balance between clean and moody.

Ratliff's raw, rootsy sound comes out of city and country blues traditions, but the songwriting takes in other forms, from the heavy-metal drawl of "Leviathan" - an apocalyptic indictment of the Bush oiligopoly - to the bluesy tango of the closer "You Never Miss:"

You were trouble, I might have guessed
A Jezebel in a cocktail dress...
On the outside, a southern belle
With a tongue fired up in hell
I beg and plead for one more kiss
You know I'm always like this
Cause you never miss

Ratliff maintains his grim energy through the minor-key blues of "Permanent Midnight," which has a Ray Wylie Hubbard vibe, the lost-love lyrics of the chunky country waltz "Time Slips Away," and the insistent beat of the original folk-ballad "My Dayz" where Ratliff's vocals seem to channel Ian Anderson at his wryest.

Highly recommended for roots-music fans everywhere.

*"Ben Ratliff" is Earlwine's real name. - Blogcritics.org

"Review of "The Fainting Room""

"Bunko* ... writes groove-oriented tunes. His wry, throaty vocals evoke here a Tom Waits and there a Paul Kantner (it's not accident that Sexfresh is from San Francisco) but possess a restrained, somehow avuncular style all their own. Bunko comes into his own with soaring vocals and even more inspired songwriting on the second half of this 10-song CD.?
-- The Globalmuse.com on "The Fainting Room"

*Earlwine's earlier name. - Globalmuse.com


The Fainting Room, (Sexfresh), 2001
Vacancy, (Sexfresh), 2003
Misplaced Desire, (Ben Ratliff) 2003
Songs for the New Depression, (Ben Ratliff) 2004
Low Frequency Hum, 2007



Earlwine has returned to the Austin area after an extended foray to the respective coasts of America. His music represents a cultural stew of American influences, spanning from deep blues traditions to country to hip-hop and ambient electronica. Though his music defies easy categorization, a sense of gravitas and reckoning colors every song. Manifold stylistic influences bubbling up from the continuous wellspring of American musical idioms continue to influence his songwriting and production.

After a stint in San Francisco playing drums, guitar, banjo and accordion with a series of bands, including "The Funkmobile" and "Sexfresh," Earlwine stopped back in Texas to record his album "Songs for the New Depression," an independently produced album characterized by gutbucket beats, found vintage electronics and the dirty, dirty blues, prompting comparisons to Beck, Tom Waits and even Dire Straits. This was released under Earlwine's Christian name "Ben Ratliff" and is also available on CD Baby.

In New York, Earlwine played a series of gigs with a band and solo acoustic. He developed a more reflective and pensive sound while playing local venues like Fez, Makor, Arlene's Grocery and other popular New York establishments. Earlwine also frequently performed as his alter-ego "Paco Doubledown," a tux-wearing seasoned career entertainer in the Catskills mold currently down on his luck.

After recording the bulk of his second full solo album "Low Frequency Hum," he returned to his home of Austin, Texas in 2007 to release the album on new label aMerkin.com.

With his new name came a new direction. While "Low Frequency Hum" shares a dystopic vision with "Songs for the New Depression," there is also an undercurrent of hopeful naivete. The Waitsian and slightly tounge-in-cheek "Dark Nacht" chronicles an empire of excess run by a secret cabal of power-hungry fools, while "When We Were Young" hearkens back to a more innocent time in the speaker's life. "Low Frequency Hum" portrays a world off its axis and a country that has lost its vision, but also holds a flame of hope for the common decency of individuals.

Under the auspices of aMerkin.com, Earlwine is marketing his album directly to the public and pursuing licensing opportunities for his music. He is planning an American tour in the fall and a European tour in 2008.