In The Ranks: The Bennies
Bongcore ska-punks The Bennies have had an insanely busy 2015, to say the very least. Alongside recording their third full-length album, the riff-splitting spliff-rippers made waves with a ground-breaking TISM cover, popped up at a metric fuckton of festivals (including Soundwave XV in February), supported ska icons Less Than Jake and Reel Big Fish across the country, embarked on their own Party Whirlwind tour, and even squeezed in a couple of international shows. To wrap it all up, they’re currently underway with yet another national headline run, hitting up 17 cities with their new single “Party Machine” in tow before 2016 ushers in The Year The Bennies Became Bigger Than Jesus™. As we gear up for their next LP to drop, we’re revisiting the first four releases, counting them down from least awesome to most, and possibly (probably) starting an internet shitfight or two in the process… Let’s begin, shall we?
4. Better Off Dread EP (2013)
Surprisingly enough, Better Off Dread is the only release that The Bennies have put out on 4/20. It’s a sweet little bite of what the band have to offer, clocking in at just a few seconds over 10 minutes and spanning four tracks that sound entirely original in their own right. If you’ve ever seen The Bennies live, you’ll know that “My Bike” is a setlist classic – if you don’t scream along to that chorus at the tippy top of your lungs, you probably deserve the elbow that’ll end up in your nose. The title track is also an instant standout, its jangly, ‘90s-channelling ska influence too excitable to ignore.
Ultimately, Better Off Dread is the lesser of The Bennies’ four releases. It’s a fucking dope EP (hence the 4-star rating), but it just doesn’t pack the same punch or leave the same sweaty sting that their other discs do.
Trophy Tune: “My Bike”
3. Party! Party! Party! (2011)
A messy and abrasive fusion of punk, funk, hip hop, reggae, dub and ska, Party! Party! Party! is an immensely underrated masterpiece. Its title is fitting – this is the ultimate soundtrack for the ultimate rager; 13 slices of coked up crazy that don’t give a fuck about the hangover they’ll leave you with. “Rude Boy Culture” is the designated ‘chill’ song of the album, “Bagz Of Weed” never fails to get a sing-along started, and “Outside In” is the epitome of short, fast, loud – the musical equivalent of a five-hour energy shot condensed into a clean 50 seconds. No doubt, this is The Bennies throwing everything at the wall and hoping it sticks. Thankfully, most of it does.
Party! Party! Party! scores itself the third place slot because while it is home to some of The Bennies’ most fervently energetic tunes, it’s a little convoluted, packed too tight, and free of a clear direction. It’s a phenomenal record once the band’s unique style of weirdness grows on you, but until then, it can sound a little jarring.
Trophy Tune: “Outside In”
2. Heavy Disco EP (2014)
Recorded on a whim and released in the build-up to their Soundwave 2015 appearances, Heavy Disco is an exceptionally strong release and likely The Bennies’ best to draw new listeners in. The title track is characterised by ravenous riffs, spellbinding synths, and a hook that couldn’t get a party started quicker if it tried. “Stay Free” shows a side to The Bennies not present on their previous releases: calm, collected, but still driven by an urgency to get fists in the air. Though only spanning five tracks, the EP feels like a full release, and is worthy of standing alongside the albums.
In terms of quality, Heavy Disco is very much on par with 2013’s Rainbows In Space. It’s clear that this EP is designed to appeal to as broad an audience as the band could – whether or not that paid off, it’s a record that all fans of music should give at least one play-through.
Trophy Tune: “Heavy Disco”
1. Rainbows In Space (2013)
From the bouncy throws of “Anywhere You Wanna Go” to the lucrative grooves of “Sky High”, Rainbows In Space is everything a good punk album should be. It’s another amalgam of left-of-field musical influences and outlandish lyrical humour, but this time around, the stew is salted flawlessly. Vocals don’t feel like they’re one-take jobs, nor do instruments feel like they were written on the fly. The band experiment with new ideas like breakdowns (“Frankston Girls”) and spoken word vocals (“Knights Forever”), and not once does any of it feel forced. Early days be damned, this is an album that will go down in history.
Rainbows In Space is The Bennies’ most solid album for a lot of reasons, but above all else, it’s an album with a million different sounds that can be listened to and loved from word go.
Trophy Tune: “Knights Forever”
The Bennies / The Hard Aches / Wet Pensioner
Fri Nov 20th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Sat Nov 21st – Youth Fest, Bacchus Marsh*^
Tix: Free Entry
Sat Nov 21st – Karova Lounge, Ballarat (18+)
Sun Nov 22nd – Barwon Club, Geelong (18+)
Thu Nov 26th – The Small Ballroom, Newcastle (18+)
Fri Nov 27th – Factory Floor, Sydney – SOLD OUT
Sat Nov 28th – The Zoo, Brisbane (18+)
Sun Nov 29th – The Spotted Cow, Toowoomba (18+)
Tix: Free Entry
Tue Dec 1st – Music Man, Bendigo (18+)*
Fri Dec 4th – The Grand, Cairns (18+)*^
Sat Dec 5th – Railway Hotel, Darwin (18+)*^
* – The Hard Aches not appearing
^ – Wet Pensioner not appearing