BEST NEW TRACK: ALEC BENJAMIN - DEATH OF A HERO
Rising singer/songwriter Alec Benjamin puts away childish things on "Death Of A Hero."
In the 1994 film adaptation of The Crow, in a potent soliloquy Top Dollar, played by Michael Wincott, says "Childhood's over the moment you realize you're going to die." While the dawning of the awareness of mortality is a startling, traumatizing moment for everybody, innocence and death can still cohabitate.
It might be better -- or more accurate, at least -- to say "Childhood's over the moment you realize your heroes are just people."
This revelation can be a lot longer coming, if it happens at all. Perhaps that's why we've got so many overgrown children running amok in 2018? They should all borrow a page from Alec Benjamin, who is truly wise beyond his years. Not even a quarter-century old, Benjamin seems much more mature and aware than 90% of society, judging from "Death Of A Hero."
ALEC BENJAMIN - DEATH OF A HERO
Alec Benjamin's newest single finds the singer/songwriter reflecting on one of his youthful hero's shortcomings with poignant, poetic detail. “That night I put my youth in a casket and buried it inside of me…and now I’m a witness to the death of a hero,” he sings during the devastating chorus. That's just one of the many memorable lines Benjamin sings over a stuttering, pulsing guitar line, delivering with his trademarked silken tenor, not yet strained by the maturity of Benjamin's spirit.
Like Benjamin's last few excellent singles, like "Let Me Die Slowly," he shows a preternatural talent for compelling narratives and interesting characters. He balances the slice-of-life details and ornate delicacy of Sufjan Stevens with Father John Misty's freewheeling cast of characters. While you can't help but get the feeling that Father John is laughing to keep from crying, Alec Benjamin is not yet so guarded, nor so disingenuous. Instead, his pain and heartache pour like warm, red kroovy from a self-inflicted wound. The fact that "Death Of A Hero" doesn't dwell on the angst or succumb to melodrama speaks to Benjamin's talents at rich storytelling that pretty much anybody can relate to.
Watching our heroes tumble is a feeling we are all too familiar with in 2018. Every day, seeing our favorite musicians trending on Twitter causes our heart to gag in our throats. "Oh God," we think. "What now? What did they do?" It's a sad illustration of this tragic situation that death is often the best-case scenario. "Oh good," we think. "They only died. I was afraid they were a monster."
We Are: The Guard feel your pain. We've seen some of our long-standing favorites revealed as monsters, or accused of such, same as any other music lover. Alec Benjamin reminds us that there's still plenty of brightness, amidst all the pain; that there are still people to look up to, even if they're only human.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.