(YouTube Video of Ben Weaver performing in the Netherlands in the Spring of 2007)
He's played all over the world over the past five years - I even had the chance to catch him performing at the Windmill in London in the summer of 2003 - but Twin Cities music fans may remember Ben Weaver as a Turf Club favorite. Weaver has just signed a multi-album deal with Bloodshot Records with his label debut set for release August 12. His new album, his sixth, will be called The Axe and the Oak and is produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine.) Signing to Bloodshot means he joins the ranks of Ryan Adams, The Sadies, Neko Case and Alejandro Escovedo.
Weaver has also created a hand-made book of poems and drawings and contributed a story to an upcoming anthology of fiction by songwriters, fitting as it harkens back to his early press from Sylvie Simmons of Mojo,who called his songs "strange, skin-prickling tales picked up from the Moebius strip of a lost highway he's been compelled to travel on" and compared him to a "hillbilly Leonard Cohen."
The Axe and the Oak tracklisting:
1. White Snow*
2. Red Red Fox
3. Soldiers War
4. Anything With Words
5. Pretty Girl
6. Hawks and Crows
7. Dead Bird
8. Said in Stones
9. Alligators and Owls*
10. Hey Ray
11. Out Behind the House
12. The History of Weather
Listen to White Snow and Alligators and Owls at www.myspace.com/benweavermusic
More detail from Bloodshot Records in this Press Release:
For Immediate Release
April 22, 2008
The songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/artist Ben Weaver has signed a multi-album deal with Bloodshot Records, with his label debut set for release August 12, 2008. The Axe and the Oak is Weaver’s 6th album at the ripe old age of 27; it is by far his most adventurous to date. Weaver explains, “The majority of this record was written in Berlin, the summer of 2007. I was staying in a friend’s flat in Prenzlauer Berg. I had many pictures in my head at that time. This record is not about Berlin, but about what being in Berlin allowed me to create.” Produced by Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine), the album juxtaposes electronic musical sounds with warm acoustic instruments with textural results that defy the usual expectations of the singer/songwriter genre. It's hard to argue with the results - evocative, hushed songs that illuminate Ben’s affinity for the natural world of birds, phone booths, empty parking lots, strangers in the checkout line, plastic bags stuck in trees and whatever else typically goes unnoticed in the sidewalk cracks.
A former Casket Company warehouse is Weaver's current world headquarters. Multitudinous organs, synthesizers, guitars, a sampler, a piano, a dog, Polaroid cameras, sketch books, New Yorker back issues, boxes of CDs and a PowerBook mark the territory. There is an air of controlled chaos and the musty smell of old tube amps. Weaver writes continuously, a process perhaps more akin to breathing than composing, “I have always identified with those people who make art because they have to, that sense of necessity and urgency. That is why I make art, to fulfill that need within myself and to connect with the people of the world who also cannot live without it."
Aside from his prolific and constant songwriting and recording, Ben has created a handmade book of his poems and drawings and contributed a story to an upcoming Anthology being gathered by Steve Horowitz for Abrams – each selection of fiction is written by a songwriter. Expect to see this hit bookstores in March 2009, Ben will be featured along with the likes of Renee Sparks of the Handsome Family, Greg Brown and Jolie Holland.