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Ben Lear

Entries by Ben Lear

The Value in Betting on Music: What's Not Said in the Digital Music Debate

(2) Comments | Posted July 23, 2012 | 9:17 AM

The last time I can remember buying an album from a store was in 2006. I had ducked into a cramped record shop in Melbourne and asked the clerk what new Australian bands he could recommend. He handed me The Drones' "Wait Long By the River and the...

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On the Topic of Obama's Same-Sex Marriage Announcement

(75) Comments | Posted May 10, 2012 | 11:49 PM

Obviously this is a great thing. A U.S. President announcing his support alters history forever, and it symbolizes an even greater shift in the politics of today. I firmly believe, by applying some common sense, that Obama's always believed in gay marriage (if I didn't think so I wouldn't have...

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The Future of Music: Free Health Care for Bands?

(6) Comments | Posted April 10, 2012 | 3:43 PM

Years ago, I met Will.I.Am in a nightclub and he told me what the future of music would look like. "In the future of music," he said, "there will be no middlemen. Artists and brands will work together directly." And, as it turns out, he was right.

Since the collapse...

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"Nothing Is Wrong" with Dawes

(4) Comments | Posted June 7, 2011 | 4:15 PM

(Taylor from Dawes performs "A Little Bit of Everything")

A few years ago I had the special opportunity to share some of my own songs with Marilyn and Alan Bergman, one of the greatest songwriting teams of all time. I'll never forget what they said to me after I played for them. They gave each other a funny look and told me my lyrics felt lazy. Alan called to my attention a moment during a second verse when I rhymed "time" with "mind." In his day, he told me, a songwriter would never settle for anything less than a perfect rhyme.

At nineteen-years old, I wasn't ready to hear this. I figured that the disparity between their "traditional" understanding of songwriting and my "modern" understanding was just too great. They clung to an outdated model and I, along with my generation and a couple generations before mine, for that matter, sought to break away.

Then, over the next few months, listening to the radio, I began to notice that everyone these days rhymed "time" with "mind". It drove me insane, as if I'd caught some OCD bug from the Bergmans. Suddenly I found myself diving into Sinatra and old show-tunes, anything where I knew I'd find some "correct" songwriting. I began to discover this remarkable world where the greatest value was placed on craft, where the rules I'd ran from served only to clarify and augment the effect of a song. It was one of those, "what have I been missing?" moments. Since then, whenever I listen to a song, I wonder to myself, how much is this artist in love with his craft? How much does he appreciate the tradition and can I hear it through his music, regardless of how unconventional it may sound? It's become increasingly clear to me that few young songwriters appreciate the song as much as Taylor Goldsmith from the LA rock band, Dawes.




When you listen to their new album, Nothing Is Wrong, out June 7th via ATO, you will hear eleven honest-to-God songs. You will hear their love for tradition, for the seventies folk and Stax-era soul they grew up on. You will hear powerful three-part harmonies and you will hear clever, meticulously crafted lyrics. Taylor is a storyteller. Whether he's singing about himself and all he hopes to learn from the world, or he's singing about another man in another place and time, you will follow him from first verse to last.

My favorite song on the album and the case in point for their songwriting is the closer, "A Little Bit Of Everything." I asked Taylor to explain how this song came about. He told me that once he came up with the title, he knew the song would "break down into three separate verses all funneling into that line ('a little bit of everything')" and that each verse would provide the phrase with new meaning. In the first verse, it's used to describe why life's unlivable, in the second, what it takes to forget, and finally, what matters most about love.

Whether or not Dawes resonates with you stylistically, I'm convinced the quality of their songs is undeniable. Taylor took a risk with these songs; they're very literal and potentially hokey ("A Little Bit of Everything" contains food lyrics--awesome food lyrics). As far as I'm concerned, though, the risk paid off. Each song on Nothing Is Wrong is a deeply fulfilling journey delivered with expert language and restraint atop one of the best rhythm sections playing today, led by bass man Wylie Gelber and drummer, Griffin Goldsmith. Suffice it to say, while they might rock a little too hard, the Bergmans would be proud.

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Top 10 Indie Love Songs of All Time

(3) Comments | Posted February 13, 2011 | 2:02 AM

We all know that "indie" is a ridiculous name for a music genre. And we all know that Valentine's Day is a ridiculous holiday. Somehow, though, when you put the two together, what you get are some amazing love songs. Here are 10 of my favorites.

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How Adam Schatz and "Search and Restore" Just Might Save Jazz...With Our Help

(32) Comments | Posted November 29, 2010 | 8:39 AM

Over the last few decades, our culture has all but abandoned the notion of jazz as a living, breathing art form. I'll even bet that, if you're not already a fan, the moment you realized this post was about jazz, you considered clicking away. It seems distant and boring; a...

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(1) Comments | Posted October 1, 2008 | 6:54 PM


With little to see and little to hear, my breathing consumes my thoughts. I bring it in through my mouth, widening my ribs as it collects in my lungs and when I am full, after one silent second, suspended like on the crest of a wave, I release it...

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