03 Apr Trading Tunes with Donny Benet

Sydney’s Donny Benet has been simmering under the radar since 2011, searching for that break out single or moment to transition him from pre-David Letterman Future Islands to post-David Letterman Future Islands. I’m not sure if that song or moment is going to come from his new album The Don, but if not then it’s still a win for Australians, because we’ll get to keep this interesting man on our shores a little longer.

The Don is out on April 6th via Dot Dash Recordings, a label underneath Remote Control Records. The album’s eight tracks contain a few of the previous catchy singles ‘Konichiwa‘ and ‘Santorini‘, and even ‘Working Out‘ that came out originally in 2016. Oddly enough one of the other pre-release singles ‘Melodie‘, didn’t make the cut.

There’s three things The Don displays really well. Firstly Donny’s ear for a hook — there’s plenty up and down the album, mostly coming in the form of a vocal hook. Secondly, the layers of glossy, sexy keyboard arpeggios, that ooze together so nicely that they make you want to hear this album properly on vinyl. The third thing is the track extensions. The shortest track on the album is 4:27 which is unusual for shiny alt-pop album, and it makes the listening experience far more rewarding. The album may only contain eight tracks, but you don’t feel short changed by the end. If you’re a fan of Neon Indian, then The Don is what you needed before summer, or it’s perfect timing if you’re about to travel north for holidays.

Word from Donny Benet:
“Any time I’ve been in a situation as a session musician and the producer is scratching their head searching for that unique sound, I’ll never hesitate to crack out my fretless bass. If the track needs some stink on it, well, say no more.
It’s an incredibly difficult instrument to play…let’s face it — any chump can play the electric bass. Take away the frets and all of a sudden you’re left with a number smaller than the Titanic survivors who can keep their head above water on this instrument.
Chances are you’ve heard one weep any time there’s a sex scene in most 80/90s Hollywood blockbusters. They’re the MSG of emotion in the musical world.
I’m a huge fan of sans frets. Here’s some of my favourite pigs.

Upcoming gigs:
Sat 7 April – The Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Sat 14 April – Howler, Melbourne
Sat 21 April – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Fri 27 April – Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Sat 28 April – Uow Uni Bar, Wollongong

Elton John – ‘Nikita’

About David Paton: “This Scotsman has played with em all – Kate Bush, Alan Parsons project and of course EJ.
Beautiful sound, just the right amount of Jaco. His performance really gives a feeling of uplifting emotion. I reckon it was a first take. A few too many fills which probably pissed off the producer and a few brown notes, but, it’s got a vibe — a keeper.”

Lou Reed – ‘My Red Joystick (live)’

About Fernando Saunders: “Check out this CV: Lou Reed, Marianne Faithfull, Joan Baez, Slash, Gavin Friday, Tori Amos, Pat Benatar, Steve Winwood, Jimmy Page, John McLaughlin, Heart, Jan Hammer, Luciano Pavarotti, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts from The Rolling Stones, Robert Quine, Anohni, Steve Hunter, Kevin Hearn, Julieta Venegas and Suzanne Vega. Some real heat there. He’s always pushed up in the mix and really makes it work when playing with Lou. I channel this bad boy all the time.”

Japan – ‘Visions of China’

About Mick Karn: “Most bassplayers shat their pants when Jaco Pastorius came onto the scene in the ’70s. Once they cleaned up, a huge number of them then tried to play like him. So many. There’s a small number of bass players who either didn’t blink or built on what Jaco did rather than carbon copying him. Mick Karn was one of them. Some say he sounded like he did due to the incredible Wal bass that he played. He still sounded hot on a Travis Bean bass in the early Japan days. He’s just a bad boy. I also channel this man when playing. And so handsome.”

Gary Numan – ‘We Take Mystery to Bed’

About Pino Pallandino: “Young Pino. Plays a fretless Musicman Stingray, both slap and fingerstyle. You can hear the youthful enthusiasm in his playing. This track comes from the album I Assassin. The whole album is hot. Apparently Prince lost his shit hearing how Gary Numan used the LM-1 drum machine on this album. Pino played a whole bunch of stink in the 80s and cashed in on the fretless work, best known for Paul Young‘s “Wherever I lay my hat.” Came back on the scene on D’angelo’s Voodoo playing the wonky fretted P bass. Apparently likes pasta with meatballs.”

Rodriguez Jr. – ‘An Evidence Of Time (Claude VonStroke Remix)’

About Tony Levin: “Chapman stick, Funk fingers. This guys doesn’t play by anyone’s rules — and that’s hot. Probably not the 1st call guy for the sex scenes but that’s what’s great about his playing. I’m a fan.”

Marcus Rimondini

Managing Editor & Music Editor - Follow on Twitter