New Artist: Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers


If you haven’t heard of Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers, it is with great honor that I present to you one of the greatest (and maybe weirdest) new artists and listening experiences you’ve had all year. From what I’ve researched of Ben Caplan, he lives in Halifax and occasionally plays with his band, The Casual Smokers.

From what I’ve surmised from Caplan’s music, he’s a gypsy with many musical talents, he enjoys Yiddish folk music, and boasts an unparallel vocal range. Whether or not he is actually a gypsy (I would really like to believe that he is), Caplan’s sound flawlessly combines multiple genres of music that is fueled by a palpable and contagious passion, creating an exquisite treat for our listening pleasure.

My first introduction to Ben Caplan was through the track “Stranger,” and it is quite possibly one of the strangest, and unequivocally, inimitable songs I’ve heard this year. The heavy piano combined with the unruly and theatrical vocals is reminiscent of the Dresden Dolls (if the Dresden Dolls were into Yiddish folk music). During your first Ben Caplan listening experience you may ask, “Is this real?” And the answer is yes, yes it is. Give it a listen. I promise at least one thing; once you’ve heard Ben Caplan sing, you will never forget Ben Caplan.

See what I mean? On the track “Conduit,” Caplan shifts gears from the melodramatic sounds of “Stranger” and showcases his strengths as a bluegrass/blues singer while still exhibiting influences of the Yiddish folk we’ve grown to love so much.

The final Ben Caplan delight is a simpler number than those we’ve grown accustomed to thus far. “Down to the River” is a brilliant top indie display of Caplan’s vocal capacity while keeping the choral and instrumental dramatics at a minimum so we may enjoy Caplan in all his soulful glory.

Although each song featured is slightly unique from the others, they all come together cohesively, and beautifully unite Caplan’s distinctive sounds with spirit, passion and lyricism. Ben Caplan & The Casual Smokers are one of the rare groups which prove music has no boundaries and the artistic possibilities are limitless. That’s why his beard is so big. It’s full of secrets.

Check out more at his Facebook.