The Austin Chronicle

ACL Music Fest 2014 Saturday Reviews

By Doug Freeman, October 3, 2014, Music

Benjamin Booker


"Where I'm going, I never know," declares Benjamin Booker at the outset of his debut LP, the sharp kicker to the opening salvo of an immaculately cascading riff beckoning Chuck Berry. Benjamin Booker enthusiastically reels amid the unpredictable and unrestrained, the 25-year-old New Orleans-via-Florida songwriter's guitar ripping to drummer Max Norton's unbridled punk percussion. Excitement exhumes the reckless interplay between tradition and the innovation of an electrified juke joint in commencing double shot "Violent Shiver" and trembling "Always Waiting." Booker's asphalt-scrapped vocals are barely intelligible, yet carry a weariness that suits the hauntingly soulful moans of "Slow Coming" and almost whispered "I Thought I Heard You Screaming." He's equally raw unleashing his guitar on the low blues boogie of "Chippewa" and sawed-off shotgun burst of "Wicked Waters." The album's backside launches with equal invective, Booker quietly scathing against radio songs "produced by 40-year-olds in a high-tech studio" on "Spoon Out My Eyeballs" before upending in a fevered howl "to be real." Distortion rakes against the chugging "Happy Homes," while "Old Hearts" pumps a youthful if bittersweet punk anthem, and "Kids Never Grow Older" draws out achingly between angrily erupted choruses. The woozy croak of closer "By the Evening" crackles like a long-discarded and scratched 45. Benjamin Booker might not know where he's going, but he's well on his way. (1pm, Austin Ventures stage)


Copyright © 2022 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.