One of my favorite aspects of this passion of mine called music is that it doesn’t always take a huge band with tons of expensive instruments and studio production tricks to create a high quality sound.  Take today’s find Ben McNeil as a perfect example of that.  The acoustic indie rock artist from Australia is proud to use his battle weary guitar, scarred with thousands of pick wounds, and his extensive vocal range to create a sound that is all his own.

With influences ranging from Jeff Buckley to Foo Fighters to Radiohead, BenMcNeil throws his music past into its own mixing pot and comes out with something quite exotic.  The latest result is Standby, Steady, a 5 song EP showcasing his vocal talent and an ear for guitar sounds that fit perfectly with it.  He is not afraid to mix in “on the fly” loops as well as you can hear on ‘Hero’, a strong song where he attacks the phonies that think they are heroes although they only seem to care for themselves.  The poppy ‘Candy Store’ may be my favorite on the album.  A fun song with a sing along feel to it and a storyline that you want to pay close attention to.  ‘Evolution’ has an almost traditional Indian music quality to the guitar picking style Ben uses.  A darker song than the rest of the album with a wall of sound that is hard to imagine was created by just one man.

Bottom line: Ben McNeil’s Standby, Steady is a high quality start to what should become a solid career.  With his talent for storytelling with elastic vocals over powerful guitar strumming, this is an EP you should let your ears hear.  They will thank you for it.

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