Brooklyn native Ben Seretan (FB - Tumblr - Bandcamp) has finished up his debut solo album and it’s a banger. Some would argue that the guitar in modern-day indie ‘rock’ is dead but Ben & co. completely disagree. Purists will revel in the delightful guitar tones, crunchy licks and wilderness-driven jams. But don’t think we’re talking Dinosaur Jr. here, Ben possesses a spiritually emotive voice and the album is completely dripping with charm - two tracks predominantly feature instruments belonging to his beloved grandmother and the first single, Light Leaks (listen here!), even features a choir. Music aside, you’d be hard-pressed to find a classier, more lovable dude!
Ben Seretan is now up for pre-order on solid red tapes. There’s only 100 copies and, like always, the first 22 orders get screenprinted slipcovers so don’t shuffle about! Vinyl hounds can show their support by grabbing the double LP from Ben’s Bandcamp page!
This show came about because a couple weeks ago, some buds we met at a music festival were playing. We walked in and they said, “Oh, we don’t have an opener. Do you guys wanna play?” So we both played.
Later, I went back there for a beer. The lady serving us and I got to talking and I mentioned that I had played recently. She said I ought to play a full show. I said, “How’s Monday?” And now the show is happening.
Bene snapped this rad pic of me swimming yesterday at Whale Park. Not pictured: the tangy coldness of the salty water, the hundreds of tiny cuts I got climbing back out of the water across sharp barnacles.
I’ve spent the last two summers in southeast Alaska, in a town called Sitka, situated on a series of islands in the Pacific. There are about 9,000 people who live here - worlds away from my life in New York City (I’m fond of saying that there are more bands in Brooklyn than there are people here). I’ve come to Alaska through the Sitka Fellows Program - a new residency program. Essentially it means that I’m here to live simply and to play the guitar and to sing into the ocean.
In no particular order, here are the things I’ve learned to cherish here:
-the long, lazy arc of the sun as it rises and sets, staying up in the sky past well past 10pm
-the ever-uncanny, screaming calls of ravens in the woods and in parking lots
-the deep, happy, living smell of wet spruce trees
-swimming in cold ocean water with the silhouette of a volcano in the distance
-swimming near the airport runway and under planes as they take off
-the quiet persistence of thousands of fish making their way upstream
-the constant movement of water, in the waves and in the tides and in the sky
-a small, icy waterfall nestled deep in the woods - I’ve stood under it and hollered for joy
It’s very beautiful here, laughably so at times. But what’s more is that there is time and space to do things. Time to walk miles and miles into the woods and up mountains. Big, empty rooms that I fill with sound. Time to talk on the phone with my friends. An abundance of space in which to consider my tiny body against the sea, the mountains, the starry veil of heaven.
Writing and playing music here is so easy. It just flows. In New York, I do my work in spite of the world - in spite of rent, in spite of student loans, in spite of the loud fun of bars gently calling me out into the night. Here, in Alaska, due to some potent combo of well being and natural awe, the words and tones just are. My voice and my guitar astonish me with their clarity. And when I sing,
Recorded some guitar and singing on a racquetball court early in the morning in Alaska. Nearly indecipherable amounts of soggy, dripping reverb. Wild standing waves. Cavernous sounds. I’m really pumped on how they turned out.
Hi - here’s a 28-minute slice of tone zone heaven recorded fresh straight to camcorder in a big conference room in southeast Alaska. Featuring my new favorite thing, a broken sampling keyboard I bought from my buddy’s studio sale for a dollar.
Perfect for watching if you want to admire my butt and the back of my head. Perfect for leaving on in the background, too. Perfect all around, really.
Earlier this summer, I played all of my opera/song cycle/long music piece “Three Sisters Music” live on WFMU, on Dan Bodah’s Airborne Event. The whole thing - 90+ minutes! - is now available on the Free Music Archive.