If you’re looking for a new band to get into, you should check out Blind Benny. The duo of Jade <3 and Jonathan Carmelli hails from Brooklyn and their music is enthralling. Their EP, No Honor, features six songs, each bursting with talent in both songcraft and performance. Best of all, there’s a yearning quality that belies the band’s obvious pop hooks.
Right away, “Chewjitsu” feels like a hit single. It’s positively anthemic, but the sweetness is cut with some dark undertones. Although you can easily imagine this song in the soundtrack to your favorite ’90s indie romcom, it’s still fresh and modern. Jade’s voice is a big reason why: it’s cute but not cutesy; plaintive but not cloying; tiny and huge at the same time.
Lyrically, these songs are about relationships. That sounds like a cliché, but what makes the songs stand out is how confessional they are, confrontational without being arrogant. And although they deal with love (and hate), Jade is no damsel in distress. There’s a bracing honesty to her protagonist’s admittance of flaws. At times it’s done with sarcasm; other times with rueful acceptance.
“Sweet Sweet” shows how Jade’s vocals, as well as Carmelli’s musicianship, can shift from bare bones to lush within seconds. Jade harmonizes with herself, filling in the spaces between Carmelli’s spare strumming. “Goodness Goodness” is self-reflexive in terms of sound and style, straddling salty and sweet both lyrically and musically. The guitar melody is beautiful and Jade’s sensual, intimate vocal performance, combined with her luxurious background vocals, induces goosebumps.
The more uptempo “Fantastic Four” introduces a bit of grit to Jade’s vocals along with a more staccato musical framework. Still, the chorus soars and it’s more than obvious that Jade’s voice can also attain sustained purity. There is more gorgeous guitar found in “Faith Is Looking Good” along with spectral background vocals. The ambiguity is intriguing: is she singing about faith in a higher power or herself? The ending is bittersweet and lovely.
Finally, there is the standout title track, the one that caught my ear the first time I heard it. Musically, lyrically, and vocally, this song is killer. I love the reworking of the “making your bed and lying in it” cliché as well as how delivery of the lyric “but your love arrows pierce through my soul” elevates it into something more. It’s a genuinely haunting and ethereal song that you will not soon forget. Watch the video here.
It’s exciting to hear such talent in Blind Benny at such an early stage of the band’s career. I look forward to what they have to offer us next.
No Honor is out today. The band will be performing a two-week residency at The Bowery Electric in New York beginning September 10. For more details, check out the band’s website.