Sundog

by Benjamin Russell

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about

Featuring a new version of Russell's CFNY hit from the 80's, "MIRACLE (Miracle of Love)", this album has a New Wave flavour with an upbeat vibe - Russell is in full Pop mode!

MIRACLE (Miracle of Love) feat. Mike Bessette - A remake of Russell’s synth-based song that was a hit on Toronto’s trend-setting CFNY radio station back in the 80’s. The song earned Russell a nomination for Most Promising Male Vocalist in the nationally televised 1985 CASBY Awards (Gowan won the award that year for Strange Animal). The original is now out of print but repeated requests from frustrated fans inspired Russell to re-record it for this album in a totally fresh arrangement with no synths in evidence, just real drums (played by Mike Bessette, Russell’s punk cohort from their band, The Strokes – no not that band, this band was first!), and tenor sax played by Russell (who loves his Jupiter sax!)

GANGSTERLAND - Who’s the gangster? That’s Elyce. Back in the day, Russell would go into Steve’s Music and decide what new gear he couldn’t live without. Then he’d call in Elyce who would hammer the sales guys for the best possible deal. Steve Kirman once offered her a job, probably just to get her on his side for a change!

TRUST ME feat. Carlos Avila - Carlos, one of the most talented guitarists Russell has ever worked with, appears courtesy of Hey There! Locklear.

ALDOUS HUXLEY (Brave New World) feat. Beta Girls - Who doesn’t know of this book? This and George Orwell’s 1984 are prescient visions of our future each radically different from the other. We guess it depends where you live in the world - some places, Orwell’s prediction is coming true, but in North America, we’re being co-opted into Huxley’s vision. This guy had ESP - from cloning to virtual reality, he saw it all from the early twentieth century! The Beta Girls (Cathy Canestrari, Martine Lapointe, Nunzia Catena, Miriam Porrazzo) appear courtesy of Jam Industries and Erikson Audio.

SUMMER OF OUR LIVES - One of Russell’s earliest songs, written when he was 17, this is pure fantasy, but it feels like a memory.

BABYLON BABIES - Russell’s love of reggae comes through on this one via The Clash while his sax solo on this groove oriented tune hails back to the early days of rock’n’roll.

LOVER - The Clash meet The Temptations in this song. As if that weren’t enough of a mix, Russell manages to throw in banjo and sax riffs and the groovy bass hook is played on his new Kala UBass (Russell can’t believe the tone and playability of this mini miracle!) Add the transvestite background vocals and what have you got? Another Russell original. Lyrically a love life lament, this song is nothing but fun!

AND ONE DAY - Built on an eastern European type melody, this song of forbearance features a clash of outlooks reflected in the dueling electric blues and acoustic gypsy guitars.

I FORGET - Introspection can lead to a universal realization: “Time protects the lonely hearts it heals”.­­­

YOU MAKE ME - Dedicated to Elyce. Art is a luxury paid for by the artist’s spouse, Russell will tell you unabashedly. For years, Elyce supported him musically, financially and most importantly, emotionally. In this song which sounds like a TV show from the 70’s, Russell acknowledges this happy debt.

“I want to thank the following people and companies for their help, feedback and support which contributed in the making of this album: Elyce, Oliver, zoot aloors, Sandy Miss Parker, Ed Cooke, Norbert Roth, Sandra Chechik, Jam Industries, Erikson Audio, Erikson Music, Coast Music, Kala (makers of the UBass), Jupiter (sax), Van Doren (mouthpiece and reeds), Ableton (music software), PreSonus (music software), Propellerhead (music software), Washburn (guitars), Pearl (drums), Audio-Technica (mics & headphones), Focusrite (audio interfaces).”

- Benjamin

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"Russell and the band sound superb! The recording itself is bursting with interest and quality. Russell is on a powerful and positive groove here, perhaps less pensive than some of the lyrics on the ROCKHILL disk I reviewed previously, but more, I dunno, fun.
 
I almost hate to compare a Benjamin Russell release with another artist's output, it usually does little service to all involved, but it is an inevitability that folks want a comparative idea in their minds as to what the music will offer ...I will nonetheless oblige... I hear classic tones that remind me of Roxy Music, Chris DeBurgh, Santana, Phish, Rough Trade, Robyn Hitchcock, and all the hooks I remember from the best days of A.M. Radio circa 1972-74ish. A hard to describe Can-Con vibe is also imprinted within the music, it cannot be denied, despite the obviously worldly players involved. I've always enjoyed this aspect of Russell's music, because he reaches into wonderful places, yet feels rooted at home. It's a great quality to find in music, because that's the stuff that's timeless. 
 
I also think of contemporary bands that SUNDOG stacks well up with, don't mind me... No Sinner, Hidden Cameras, Yukon Blonde, Nathan Lawr & The Minotaurs, Brasstronaut would all make worthy and fitting tour mates; they all cut similar pathways into genres as well as Russell's band does and could attract a like-minded audience.

I noticed two more comparisons while listening to SUNDOG - Bruce Cockburn and I.S.S. commander Chris Hadfield, two stellar performers with a great grasp of the Earth and its fragility. The three form a type of brotherhood in my mind, one of enlightenment and honesty in the face of the unknown, and an adventurous quality that truly inspires! Russell's joy is contagious and his lyrics are a comfort. Sundog seems to mirror the mood I aspire to, and I thank Russell for the effort.
 
As per usual, Benjamin Russell has produced an album that affirms a simple fact, that mood need not be subsumed by technique; all the players, voices etc. shine in their own showcases and are confidently allowed to reveal their charms at an easy-going pace. No pressure, just pleasure. That thread contributes to my whole listening experience and it's a beautiful thing." 
 
zoot aloors, canadaisamusicmec.ca

credits

released 16 June 2013
Benjamin Russell - songwriter, vocals, guitar, bass, sax, banjo, computer
Mike Bessette - Drums
Carlos Avila - Lead Guitar
Beta Girls (Cathy Canestrari, Martine Lapointe, Nunzia Catena, Miriam Porrazzo) - background vocals

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about

Benjamin Russell Montreal, Québec

Benjamin Russell is a multi-genre singer-songwriter, painter, graphic artist, videographer, writer living in Montreal, Quebec. He has now split his music into three separate projects. His last album called, ROCKHILL, was released in 2010.

New Album, SUNDOG - Release date, June 16, 2013.
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Track Name: Miracle (Miracle of Love) - feat. Mike Bessette
Love is the miracle that keeps me alive
Love is the miracle, side by side
Hearts open wide - powerglide

I feel unbeatable when you say I'm good
It's unbelievable, didn't know I could
Be so understood, knock on wood

I thank God for the lifetimes
I thank you for the lifelines you throw me
I thank God for the lifetimes
I thank you for the miracle of love

I remember when it used to be so dark and lonely
I can't forget, it changed, you said you loved me only
Love me only

I thank God...
Track Name: Gangsterland
You're kind of a gangster in gangsterland
A tough little sister, you understand
Gangsterland

And you don't take it for granted
Foe or a friend, wipe out or defend
Bang, bang, bang, gangsterland

I defend you - you're innocent to me
You're living, you're breathing, you're free
That's how you are to me

But you're kind of a gangster in gangsterland
Track Name: Trust Me - feat. Carlos Avila
There are shields in your eyes
A forcefield around your soul
I wanna reach you inside
But you're scared of losing your control
You don't know your feelings
So you live in a fantasy

Don't be alone - open your heart
I won't harm you
Please touch me
Let me be your man, lover and friend
It's what you need
Trust me

We've all been there before
That place where pain is king
I don't say it's unreal
But when you love it loses it's sting
I will be so gentle and patient
I will cause your heart to sing

Don't be alone…

Please touch me
You can love me
You can trust me
I will love you forever
I will love you

Don't be alone…
Track Name: Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) - feat. Beta Girls
Aldous Huxley Brave New World

I know what to do - You can do it too
Let's get our alpha brothers and our beta sisters
Go out to the feelies then on to orgie porgie
Let's take our world to go
We'll take our world to go

Aldous Huxley Brave New World

Virtual desires are virtually relieved
A test tube and a bottle, it's how were all conceived
We don't need to burn the pages or strike for higher wages
We're happy boys and girls
We're happy boys and girls

Aldous Huxley Brave New World

Everybody's happy - every boy and girl
Everybody's happy in this brave new world
We keep it safe and shallow - don't spend our time alone
Sex and shop and party, texting on the phone
Ashamed to know our mother, not savages, you know
Soma helps to calm us when emotions start to show
Everybody's happy - every boy and girl
Everybody's happy in this brave new world

Aldous Huxley Brave New World
Track Name: Summer of Our Lives
The wind blows through your hair
And the grass is soft underfoot
You walk amoung the trees
As their leaves rustle over your head

The river beside me
Has water flowing cool and clear
I kneel to take a drink
Then lean against a tree on the grass

We meet by the river
Where the grass is soft under foot
We walk, your hand in mine
Through the trees on the riverbank

This is the summer of our lives
Track Name: Babylon Babies
Babylon babies

Their mama don't care and papa ain't there
It ain't fair, oh no

Babylon babies

They're in the hole, it's out of control
Selling their soul, oh no

Babylon babies

The street's the only place for the lonely
Place where all the wicked dreams are real
The street's the only place for the lonely
But it's not right to lie and beat and cheat and steal

Babylon ladies and babylon men
Make babylon babies who start again

Babylon

Mama don't care, and papa's not there
It ain't fair, oh no
Track Name: Lover
I'm a lover
Who's never been loved

I need someone, not just anyone
I need someone to love, for I'm a...

I'm a lover...

I long to take you in my arms, give way to all your charms
But can I believe in you
I want to drop my guard, it wouldn't be hard
But would you be true? Would you?

I'm a lover...

And if I never find her it will still be the same
I need someone to love me who will always, always remain

I'm a lover...
Track Name: And One Day
You don't have to say I'm right, you know I'm right
You know the score
And we don't have to keep accounts, we know what counts
We know what for
Just remember what I told you, my point of view
You know it's true
And we've started something that won't be still
Don't need overkill, just strength of will

And one day, you'll know your mind
And one day, you'll know you're mine
And one day, you will see
Your rightful place is with me

You don't have to say you're wrong, you know you're wrong
I'll bide my time
And we don't have to keep accounts, we know what counts
I'll watch the signs

And one day, you'll know your mind
And one day, you'll know you're mine
And one day, you will see
Your rightful place is with me
And one day you will see
You'll be staying here with me
Track Name: I Forget
I remember the moonlight

I forget, I can't remember how it feels
Time protects the lonely hearts it heals
And I forget

I forget about the pain when the loving starts again
I don't remember how it felt before
And yes I feel so certain, in between the hurting'
That I'll never be unhappy any more

I forget…

I remember the moonlight, full moonlight
And the daylight, broad daylight
How am I so certain it's the end of all my hurting'
I should know that I'll be crying once again
But I forget

I don't remember

I forget…
Track Name: You Make Me
I get downhearted, you make me feel better
Sorry I started, you make me glad to go on
You make me happy, you make me, baby, you make me

Moon rise to clear skies, I'm finally free
Heart pound, shake the ground, you make me see

You make me happy…

I get downhearted, you make me feel better
Sorry I started, you make me glad to go on
You make me happy, you make me, baby, you make me

Clear blue, me to you, I love to love you
Heart pound, shake the ground, baby it's true

You make me happy…