It’s been a rough, say, six years for Jay Bennett. After being kicked out of Wilco because a circle can only have one center (and because he’s a micromanaging pain in the ass), Bennett released a good album called The Palace at 4 a.m., Part 1, with fellow Chicago musician Edward Burch in 2002. Since then, it’s been a whole lot of garbage.
But because he’s a big part of the greatest record of all-time, every time I see his name I’m tempted to see what he’s up to, and I think his new album Whatever Happened I Apologize might actually be good. Paste tipped us to it being available for free download on Rock Proper, a site that posts legally free music. My computer is running at prehistoric speeds today (our work last purchased computers after a big selloff when Henry VIII was financing his sixth wedding), so I haven’t downloaded the whole thing, but the song “The Engine is Idle”, which streams there, is better than anything he’s done since Palace.
Via Paste, here’s what Jay has to say about making this record:
All of the vocals are done live to my own acoustic guitar accompaniment, so it has some ‘warts,’ but, in my effort to not forsake integrity for technical perfection, the album ended up feeling more honest, immediate, naked, and cohesive to me,” he said in a statement. “I am very proud of presenting myself without my typical voluminous bells and whistles. I am left wondering why I haven’t done this more often in the past.
I see this as a weird statement — both The Beloved Enemy and Bigger Than Blue contain a fair amount of stripped-down material, and both suck equally.
Anyway, check out the new one, or at least stream “The Engine is Idle.” At the very least, you’ll enjoy some tasteful Hammond B-3 in the middle. And remember that after this one, he’s got another solo venture headed your way soon.
UPDATE: My glorified abacus of a computer just finished downloading the other streaming track, “Hank”, and it’s pretty good too.