Benjamin A. Harper is the man at the heart of The Comfies. Even as lineups shift and members jump in and out of various projects, Harper remains at the center—as evidenced by the title of his brand-new CD: The Comfies present Benjamin A. Harper in This Ship Is Going Down. It's the first in what Harper hopes to be a series of three EPs followed by a full-length, and while he wrote all of the material himself, he enlisted the help of Comfies members past and present to bring it to fruition.
"This may be strange, but I'm not sure if I remember how long it took [to record the EP]," says Harper. "Some of these songs I'd had for a while, some were fairly new and some were rewritten older songs. I have been writing songs for a very long time now, so the fact that I only have one record released ever (and it was an EP) means I have an abundance of songs available to release."
And having all that time to hone and rewrite his material has resulted in a clever, meticulously crafted set of songs. This Ship Is Going Down opens with the stark, vaguely Magical Mystery Tour-esque keys of "So Far So Fine" as Harper croons deftly and solemnly. But the austerity of "So Far" is quickly left behind for the highbrow pop of "Inaction." It's textured, power-pop tapestries such as "Inaction" and "Cool Cool Spring" on which Harper shines his brightest, backing playful melodies with full and smartly nuanced instrumentation as parts drop in and out with surgical precision.
The five songs on This Ship Is Going Down are brief but insistent in their sugary infectiousness, but it's a triumph in and of itself that Harper has anything at all to offer listeners. His band might just be the most exemplary microcosm of the Nashville rock 'n' roll scene there is. There are countless talented players in Music City, but all the most interesting and skilled ones get swapped, traded, passed around and retraded so frequently that it seems difficult to get anything done. But get it done The Comfies have.
In addition to Harper, The Comfies' lineup for the EP release will include Keith Lowen (of The Privates and formerly De Novo Dahl), Josh Watson (of Mondo Primo and new Pink Spiders incarnation Matt Friction and the Cheap Shots) and Daniel Ahlbrandt (of Waterside). While only 100 physical copies of each EP will be printed, they will all be available for download in their entirety (see thecomfies.com to find out how). The EP's sharply psychedelic, Technicolor cover art by Sam Smith—former Comfies member and current drummer for Ben Folds—will sync up with that of the forthcoming releases to form a far-out panoramic scene. So, yes, you can get digital copies of the EPs cheaper (name your own price, in fact), but would you really want to deprive yourself of some commemorative wall art to accompany your listening experience? I should certainly hope not.
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