Album Review: Optimist – Ben Franklin
It was a cold Thursday in the beginning of September, when Billy Gray walked up behind me with a greeting and copy of his band’s new album “Optimist”. They had just released it a week back at a show I wasn’t able to make. Eager to get my hands on it, I sent him my home address to check it out. He in turned hand delivered it to me. I didn’t have time to even put it into my computer before I had to run out of the house. That night I got back home at 4am. There was the LP just sitting innocently where I left it. Exhausted from the night’s event I figured I’d toss it in while I slept. That was the plan anyway. I didn’t get a wink of sleep before I was rocking out!
The Album starts with a ground and pound full force drum beat that wades into Guitar and then vocals. It’s a hell of a way to start an album and it certainly got my mojo rising. I was only fifteen seconds in. So now that I was awake, albeit drunk, I started writing down my first impressions and things that stuck out. Track 2 is called Drink to Forget. It’s a phrase, as a tender of bar, that I’m all too familiar with. I’m expecting something somber and inflective, hell maybe even down right sad. It’s starts out like that, with Billy poking jabs at 9-5ers and Lemonade cleanses, then something fucking awesome happens. Its all a rouse for a much tougher song. Guitar is everywhere. Billy Gray and Eduardo Garcia Garza bounce about on vocals and Sara Tomek reigns down sulfur and brimstone from the drums.
Track 6 is Catalyst. Again this song jumps right into the fray, this time with a pseudo-political fist. The chorus is pure rage, I’m talking basement show mosh-pit danger style rage. “I’m an easy target and I’m in love with your crosshair!” then back into instrumental mayhem! Dang, that’s hot! Speaking of things above room temperature. Track 9 is Had it Comin’. This is totally my speed! I can’t tell if it’s just laying the ground rules for a one night stand or something a bit more broad, but it’s genius, because the whole thing comes crashing down in the second chorus, when the roles are reversed. It’s damn near Shakespearian. The CD’s Final track, Fren Banklin, is too much! It’s like that internet song about Washington, full of popular (and not so popular) myth about their four eyed name sake. It’s certainly a great laugh. The best part about this CD? It’s Free! You can Dl it for nothing at www.wearebenfranklin.com. There’s really no excuse to not own it. One of the best things I’ve heard this year, and it cost me nothing! I highly recommend, this is a rock album in every sense of the word!