Mutual Benefit Returns

There was a time when Mutual Benefit was fawned over by a unanimous bunch of writers, but it’s been a minute since we’ve mentioned the band. Today, Jordan Lee returns, and with such a delicate couple of tracks that you’re immediately placed back in the saddle supporting his work. I loved the first two of these tunes; it was gentle and almost fragile, while still building behind Lee. Then, I moved on to track two, and lo and behold, an even better gem. There’s something about the faint backing vocals that really hits home for me, not to mention the shallow strums and arranged accompaniment. Both tunes will appear on Thunder Follows the Light, which drops in September via Transgressive Records.

Quiet, Beautiful Cover From Mutual Benefit

If you weren’t already aware, Mutual Benefit will be releasing a full album covering Vashti Bunyan’sJust Another Diamond Day on June 23. To entice you to listen to that full album, Jordan Lee, the man behind the moniker, has released the title track of this cover album for your delight. It’s a simple and quiet tune, but it’s subtle beauty is somewhat overwhelming. Delicate guitar and banjo sounds fill your speakers while Lee’s vocals are soft and waiver smoothly with the low violin patterns. Take a listen below and become smitten with this flawless track.

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Another Great Mutual Benefit Track

mutualbenefitAdmittedly, I wasn’t entirely on board for the first wave of Mutual Benefit hype, but on this new cycle, I’ve completely committed my support. This song is the perfect illustration at the care put into the band’s craft; it celebrates the band’s orchestral movements, while also portraying the fragility of voice. As the song sprawls over 4 minutes, you’re completely enraptured in the song’s movement, though glacial at pace. This is what should move us, should move you. Skip a Sinking Stone will be out via Mom + Pop Records on May 20th.

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Perfect Pop from Mutual Benefit

mutualbenefitThere are some songs that are executed almost to perfection, and this brand new Mutual Benefit is one such number. Almost from the opening moments, the careful layering of strings and quieted percussion lays the groundwork for this perfect piece of pop. Vocals enter the picture carefully, melting into the song itself, touching every emotion as the song progresses towards its quiet end. This song looks to play a prominent role in your enjoyment, or anyone’s enjoyment, when Skip a Sinking Stone is released via Mom + Pop on May 20th.

This Previously Unreleased Mutual Benefit Track Is A Winner

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As part of the Keep In Touch subscription series from Father/Daughter Records, Mutual Benefit have given us this new, previously unheard demo called “Slow March.” This song is a gorgeous, delicate number that will have you marveling at the songwriting and craftsmanship of Jordan Lee. If this subscription series sounds like something you’d like to be signed up for, you can venture over here to learn more about it and the other great artists involved.

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Digging This New Mutual Benefit Track

jordanleeJordan Lee has been making indie pop/folk inspired music under the moniker of Mutual Benefit for some time now, so I always get a little excited when I come across a new track from this gent. This time around, we get a little bit of a change up from Lee, as the track below is the fruit of a documentary series about the process of recording music. “Not For Nothing,” is a delightfully crafted little acoustic tune that’s reminding me a little bit of Ben Kweller in its slow paced bluesy/americana style. There’s also a great deal of orchestral presence in this song as well, which will surely melt your heart. Take a listen.

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Show Preview: Mutual Benefit @ Red 7 (Tonight 10/21)

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Date 10/21/14 (TONIGHT)
Location Red 7
Doors 9:00pm
Tickets 12$ Here, 14$ at the Door

Mutual Benefit is the work of Jordan Lee and sometimes his friends– that is to say this project from Lee is often just one man’s take on quiet and well orchestrated folk/experimental pop that happens to be fleshed out with the help from many others. If you’ve never heard the band before, you should expect a mix of delicate string work mixed with fluttering lyrics. Opening up for them are Suno Deko, who sound like a nice little mix of electronic and indie rock, a la something like Sun Airway. This should be a gentle addition to your tuesday evening.

Have a listen to what exactly you’ll be missing if you don’t turn up to Red 7 tonight:

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SXSW 2014 Interview: Mutual Benefit

473217_390909804286889_152677526_oOf all the names on the list for SXSW, perhaps none has had a greater run-up than Mutual Benefit.  The work of the band has surely paid off with the praise heaped upon Love’s Crushing Diamond.  The band make their way to Austin riding that wave, with promise to live up to, and beyond, the hype that’s been ascribed to them.  Here’s how they answered some of our questions on their way into our city.  Read more

The Weekend Update: Austin Show Advisory

Austin_MuralIt’s the weekend folks, and that means for a great deal of us our responsibilities go out the window; we can go out and party! What better way to hit up the town than by atttending some great musical events across the city of Austin? We’ll go through a quick run through of great shows we think you should at least consider attending, if you’re up for a night on the town.

Friday:

Learning Secrets 10 Anniversary w/ Delorean @ Red 7 – 9 PM

Black Books, Pageantry, Shivery Shakes, Horse Thief @ Holy Mountain – 9 PM

Holy Wave (LP Release), The Zoltars – Hotel Vegas – 10 PM

Mutual Benefit, Poppy Red @ Mohawk – 9 PM

Saturday:

Dead Meadow, Holy Wave @ Hotel Vegas – 9 PM

Little Radar, Summer Swells, Stella, Harvest Thieves @ Holy Mountain – 9 PM

And there you have it. Pick a show, any show, just go out and have some fun. You deserve it. Here’s some jams from Black Books and Little Radar.

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Mutual Benefit – Love’s Crushing Diamond

mutualRating: ★★★★½

This is one of the most exciting debuts I’ve heard all year.  Well, it’s not exactly a debut.  Mutual Benefit, a fluid band centered around songwriter Jordan Lee, has independently released several EPs, but Love’s Crushing Diamond is their longest and best effort to date.

I find this music very hard to describe or classify – in a good way.  The tunes here could almost pass as folk, but folk music is not this experimental or this expansive.  I can’t really call it pop; pop isn’t this introspective and delicate.  The immediate thing, the crucial thing to note is the incredible warmth of this album.  A soft analog hum pervades the piece, and there is not a harsh sound or a strained note to be found on the record excepting a few intentionally scratchy violins.

Love’s Crushing Diamond somehow feels like a cohesive unit despite being made up of endless combinations of seemingly incongruent instruments.  Banjos, cymbals, synths, organs, distorted guitars, strings, hand claps, and various chimes somehow manage to coexist and complement each other.  The result is a very modern sounding record, despite its analog veneer.

Vocally, Lee is at once vulnerable and precise, and sounds somewhat like Sufjan Stevens or Elliott Smith.  There’s certainly an Elliott Smith influence in the way Lee builds his own harmonies and double-tracks his voice.  His recordings, however, are more comparable to projects like Microphones or even Radical Face.

For me, there is not a single song worth skipping on this record.  My favorite though is probably “Advanced Falconry”; a song built on a great looping riff and lifted by beautiful strings.  Lee’s falsetto on this track is something special.  Like “Let’ Play / Statue of a Man”, “Advanced Falconry” has a great sense of movement and energy with very minimal percussion.

Both musically and lyrically, this is an uplifting record.  Most of the songs are celebratory, at least in some way.  Lee’s declaration that, “There’s always love whether tattered, strained, or torn,” in “Let’s Play / Statue of a Man” feels like a fairly good starting point for understanding this album.  As a lyricist, Lee is very concise and understated in a refreshing way.

Very few bands mix genres this effectively and naturally, and very few albums are recorded and mixed this well.  I haven’t heard many new voices as sincere and moving as Jordan Lee’s.  I hereby nominate Love’s Crushing Diamond for “best use of wind chimes in a genre-defying masterpiece”.