You have to hand it to an artist such as Ben Brookes. Hailing from Portsmouth, the singer-songwriter roared out of the gates swinging with his debut, the exciting, The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon. The album rocks out like a tour de force determined to leave more than just an impression. Powerful lyrics, undeniably catchy melodies and even moments of jam-band utopia for good measure. For fans of indie-rock and mid-90’s alternative rock, The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon is a must.
If you’re old enough to have experienced the mid-90’s alternative boom of bands such as Blues Traveler, Counting Crows and Collective Soul, standout track, “Stories in the Rain” will transport you right back to your favorite 90’s coffee house. Brookes wastes no time on the track, immediately pulling you into the somber, melancholy narrative. The opening line, “Oh my love I just don’t want to know about the other boys” ranks among the best opening lines to a song you will hear. Brookes may not want to hear about the other boys, but from a listener’s perspective, you absolutely must know! Great stories begin with great opening lines or passages and “Stories in the Rain” is no exception.
Brookes excels when pushing the band’s strongest instrument to the forefront; his voice. His cadence is unique that it presents an original spin onto the familiar. You can hear the influence of Bob Dylan. You can even hear a little of the late Tom Petty at times. Specifically, on “Integration (Not Segregation).” When you hear his voice, the clear- and welcome- folk influence is on full display. When that combines with some grit and some nice vulnerability, you are treated to quite the impressive vocal display.
Throughout The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon, you get the sense that Brookes possesses great potential as a song-writer. The album presents itself in a strong, immediate manner. The peaks are pretty high while there are not a whole lot of low moments. Worth mentioning is the fantastic ensemble playing throughout. With former Prince Drummer Michael Bland and keyboardist Greg Inhofer (known for his work with Bob Dylan) handle their respective instruments providing a steady balance of warmth and unexpected curveballs keeping the songs exciting and bursting with energy. Not to mention the high energy lead guitar lines weaving in and out of the compositions; never showing off. They perfectly accent each song as is needed at the time they are called upon.
Ben Brookes is a great example of a modern artist who knows his desired sound and has worked to perfect it. You can’t deny his top notch ability as a song writer and you definitely cannot underestimate his band’s ability to rock. The Motor Car & The Weather Balloon will not disappoint! Make sure to check out Ben Brookes on social media. See below for links.