Following the amazing success of the sell-out Bingo Records split EP, Lancaster polymath Ben Hall, AKA Mr Ben & the Bens, is back with four new songs and a UK tour.
Since the release of The Bluest Blues and My Museum on that record, Mr Ben has toured the UK with DIY legends The Lovely Eggs, played in session twice for Marc Riley on BBC Radio 6 Music, been on air all over the place, bought a new hat, eaten at least 17 pieces of toast and had a bath.
After all that, it was time to record some new stuff. Here’s The Happy Shopper EP, available to pre-order now via Bingo Records. It comes as a 12” heavyweight vinyl with artwork by Ben himself and a zine by Bingo Records co-founder Lloyd.
‘I wrote this record in the period just after Christmas 2017,’ Ben says. ‘I always find that length of time between Christmas and New Year thoroughly depressing so I kind of wanted the songs to be an antidote to that feeling. The record is named after the home brand of products that are available at our local corner shop. I visit up to three times a day and feel like it is some kind of refuge for the community in a weird way!’
It sees Ben return with lead track How We Used To Write, offering fans more of the infectious call-and-response melody that made The Bluest Blues so popular. The rest of the album allows Ben to branch out, switching the guitar for piano for two of the record’s tracks, including live favourite The Same Rain Falls on Every Soul. To end the set, Ben takes a trip to his folk-based acoustic roots, with the lo-fi self-effacement of It’s The End.
Ben says: ‘This past few months have been mad. Touring with the band was one of the best experiences I’ve had, and we’ve met so many amazing people through that. The support we’ve had from The Lovely Eggs, Marc Riley and Bingo Records is more than I could have hoped for. I am so excited to release this next album. It’s all happening so fast and I just want to keep on making stuff and getting it out for people to hear.’
Happy Shopper was recorded by Theo Verney and mastered by Zac Barfoot, of Bingo Records band Sun Drift, with whom Mr Ben shared the previous EP.
‘It’s an intoxicating combination of excellently written melodies and perfectly fitting vocal strafes’ – Piccadilly Records
Tour support comes from Bingo label-mates Sun Drift. Sun Drift is the project of Lancaster based songwriter and producer Zac Barfoot. It combines his love of layered production techniques with his meandering guitar playing and laid-back mind set. Sun Drift’s offerings on the split EP with Mr Ben & the Bens see Lancaster’s most productive DIY producer expand on the more brooding aspects of his dreamy sound, building up to a full LP due out later this year.