Ben + Vesper

I found Ben + Vesper a while ago searching for new music.  I decided to check out Sounds Familyre Records, the recording label run by Daniel Smith of The Danielson Famile, and there they were.  He was dressed in a fuzzy leopard print bathrobe and she was dressed like some sort of diva, so I said to myself, “I’ll download their music but I probably won’t like it.  This looks even too weird for me.”  To see the picture yourself, click here.  So I downloaded it, and I didn’t like it at first.  I just kept seeing the two of them singing in their odd, art school outfits.  But after time, the music’s grown on me and I can see beyond the leopard print bath robe.

Sounds like a good modern proverb, doesn’t it?  Let me tell you, son, in life, you’ve got to see beyond the leopard print bath robe if you really want to make it.  Moving on…

I don’t know much about Ben + Vesper, but I can talk about them as if I did nonetheless.  Coming from New Jersey, Ben and Vesper Stamper are two former art students who got married, started a family, and have been making music together as a couple for at least a few years now.  On their MySpace, they say about themselves that they are “the pure extract of marital bliss you’ve always wanted but were afraid to ask for.”

Their songs, described by CD Universe as “achingly sincere acoustic and electric alt-folk with a subtle Christian bent,” are often backed musically by Sufjan Stevens, Josh Stamper, Asa Irons, Chris and Kurt Weisman, and Daniel, David, and Elin Smith.  I can’t tell that the lyrics are Christian-influenced really, and I don’t know what the group’s personal stance toward God is, but the songs often critique modern American society and provide glimmers of an escape into another world of beauty and simplicity.

Musically, Ben + Vesper are a little weird, a little different, a little “off” sounding when you first hear them.  Kind of like what you’d expect from two former art students with a press photo as previously described.  It’s mostly acoustic alt-folk stuff with quirky, creative sounds thrown in the mix once in a while.  There’s a lot of layers to the music, instruments and voices weaving in and out, sometimes harmoniously and sometimes not.

Just because I thought these were interesting, here’s a smattering of out-of-context quotes taken from reviews of the band, most of which I found on Ben + Vesper’s website:

“sound a lot like two Disneyfied hyenas, yowling at each other as they strategize and finally corner a zebra.” – Alex Konye, Vue Weekly

“Ben’s big, booming vocals (offset, naturally, by Vesper’s breathy murmur) provide a welcome shot of weird.” – Pitchfork

“…no, they do not take partake in the use of illicit substances. They just really, really like plants. No joke.” – The Music Miz

“I can’t stand Ben’s voice” – Frank Kogan, paperthinwalls

“union of the harmonious and the inharmonious” – Brock Thiessen, goodnightciagarettes

Anyway, make your own judgements after listening to these two songs, which I downloaded from their MySpace page:

Live Free or Try
An Honest Bluff


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