Breakout singer/songwriter Ben Kweller is the next best thing out of Texas by way of Cambridge, MA. Young, snotty, and loaded with melody, Kweller comes on like a combination of the young Beck and a fiery street singer from the beat poetry days. Without a doubt the first to cleverly cop a Vanilla Ice riff and make it work, "BK Baby," his ode to himself, is a freaked-out and fantastic beat-up acoustic guitar riffer. But Kweller goes deeper than three-chord bash and pop as he mines soaring old-school Brill Building pop ("I Don't Know Why," "Walk on Me") and Jonathan Richman-style naif rock ("How It Should Be [Sha Sha]"). He shows consistently strong songwriting sense throughout, but especially on the epic, melancholy piano rocker "In Other Words." Elliott Smith and Beck would do well to watch their backs with Kweller on the solo songwriter scene.
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