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Show Review

Like some topsy-turvy, psychedelic circus caravan, Ben Lovett and his southern powered 12 piece rock and roll outfit descend upon a happy gathering of bands in Austin with a sound that's the sonic equivalent of being unexpectedly doused by a wild child taking a cannon ball plunge into the deep end. At first jarring and attention grabbing, then supremely invigorating, Lovett and his curious collective of friends and companions jump start the system with a spray of tricked out pop harmonies, hard-hitting rhythm and blues, and even a few long winded, storytelling manifestos. Supporting his eclectic and electric debut Highway Collection, Lovett and his entourage take the stage - unkempt ruffled tux shirts on their backs, bow ties dangling off their necks, all shades and shaggy beards - for an eye popping session at our SXSW Showcase thats the kind of performance and conversation that will probably inspire others to jump into the creative pool after himespecially considering Ben's every day story and inspiring words for wannabe bands and artists. Unruly, explosive, and downright good for the soul, our latest session with Lovett is a must watch with an artist we're more than a little excited about.

Artist Bio

Highway Collection may be Lovett's debut album, but if it doesn't sound that way, there's a good reason. Helmsman Ben Lovett has been at this game for years, producing an impressive collection of albums and award-winning film scores for other artists. So we guess it was only a matter of time, and the wait was well worth it.

The self-released first single, "Eye of the Storm," showcases Lovett's uncanny knack for storytelling and production with its haunting vocals and acoustic guitar expertly melded with somber cello and violin into a lush watercolor of sound. The song's visual counterpart, directed by Chris Alender of Soapbox Films, is a stunning steampunk masterpiece that became a viral sensation, generating over 2 million plays in its first month. But Lovett quickly flipped the table on anyone expecting a slow burning ethereal album and knocked us sideways with "Heartattack," a wild, danceable, upbeat barn-burner of a love song packed with enough energy to peel paint and stomp through stage floors. The video for "Heartattack," a colorful panorama of stylized party action, shows us all 12 of Lovett's circus at their swaggering best.

The full album dropped March 15, just in time to coax us from heated anticipation to the pinnacle of frothing excitement for what became a triumphant performance run at SXSW. With Lovett as troubadour, the traveling band is composed of twelve members, referred to as "the circus." Sonically, immediate comparisons have been drawn to The Flaming Lips at their spacey best and Strawberry Fields-era Beatles. And while the allusions ring true, Highway Collection intentionally defies settling for any single genre or formperhaps by virtue of the fact that according to Ben Lovett, "No one song was recorded all in one place, most of it was found along the road to somewhere else."

Highway Collection is just that, an amalgamation of loving sounds spanning the gamut from mournful Southern rock to dreamy 60's-era harmonies, all infused with tight storytelling, and a little help from some friends. The apex of this aural convergence is epitomized on a track getting heavy rotation with The Musebox crew: "The Fear," which starts slow and earnest, but churns toward a rising sing-along of one hundred children complimenting Lovett's defiant reminder in the form of the chorus, "we are not alone." Indeed, we are not.


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