The husband and wife duo of Ben + Vesper received accolades across the board for their fiercely beautiful, personal and mysterious debut album, All This Could Kill You. Full of wonderfully diverse instrumentation and unusual arrangements, with Ben’s rich baritone and Vesper’s effortlessly sweet vocals intertwining throughout, it was a debut that assertively introduced this new pair of songwriters to the world. Almost four years later, Ben + Vesper return with HONORS – an album that reveals a more confident and adventurous duo. It’s a sophomore full-length full of hard-hitting and lush energies, similarly odd and complex arrangements, and an undeniable conviction.

Comprised of Joshua Stamper on lead guitar, John Mosloskie on bass and Steve Oyola on drums, this is the lineup that is responsible for filing HONORS under “Strangely Danceable”. Sufjan Stevens also adds his exquisite piano work throughout, defining key moments. All the while, Ben strums and picks his usual non-sequitur guitar lines as Vesper is heard tickling all manner of ivory, from tack piano to accordion to dusty electric piano.  As always though, the main spotlight is on the voice – Ben’s earthy baritone and Vesper’s ever-expanding alto.  Together they canter through an ambitious and detailed melodic course lined with vocal arrangements that finally get Freddy Mercury, Pete Seeger, Little Anthony and Donald Fagan talking to each other.  The album was impeccably recorded by Brian McTear, Amy Morrisey and Daniel Smith in a total of five days.

The songs on HONORS cover vast lyrical territory with laments about misplacing your favorite shirt; a father who unwittingly destroys his own son’s masterpiece; the somewhat weightier matters of Armageddon.  All of this psychic drama is embedded into peppy, freak-pop arrangements that could as easily lead you into the rolling waters of Broadway psychedelia and twisted allusions to Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

Ben + Vesper’s HONORS is set for release on January 25, 2011 on Sounds Familyre.

HONORS Tracklisting:

01. Adult vAcA

02. My Father’s Eyes

03. Knee-Hi Wall

04. Find Your Friend

05. Holly Home?

06. Cheer up, Cheers!

08. Sugar Song

09. Consubstantiation

10. All Is Forgiven

11. Understruggle; Yay, Win


Download hi res album art (drawn by Ben and painted by Vesper) here:

Watch Ben + Vesper on Weathervane and WXPN’s “Shaking Through” series:

“. . . impeccably recorded, tender, balanced, and gorgeously organic.” – Amanda Petrusich, Pitchfork


“A largely indefinable mix of somber dream pop, wispy ballads, and laidback psych-pop, the debut of husband and wife duo Ben + Vesper is the intuitive sound of two musical misfits mapping their own internal world in song. . . the album retains a remarkably singular feel, with every melody bending when you least expect it and every arrangement unraveling by its own innate logic.” – Matt Fink, Under The Radar


“Ben’s striking voice swoons and croons while Vesper breathes harmonies behind him like the wind.” – Jonathan Shipley, Venuszine


“It isn’t easy to pin down this offering, but its introspective lyrics and eerie accordion create a quasi-folk soundscape difficult to forget.” – Matthew Shearon, American Songwriter


“Characters, stories, and events express modern joy and anxiety, calm and confusion in relevant and distinct ways. Too nuanced and complex for most one-word descriptors other than ‘music’, the Stampers’ tunes nonetheless have much to offer. All this could kill you, but it could also make you stronger.” – Michael Metivier, PopMatters

Ben + Vesper Online:


Employed to Serve

Forward Under a Dying Sun

Most of these days, the sun rises and sets on a world that feels like it's dying. Across the pond, where Employed to Serve calls home, they're learning how to support their latest record a year into its release. HM contributor Andrew Voigt recently sat down with Justine Jones to learn more about the band, marrying your bandmates, and their outside shot at touring with Rammstein.


Full Feature
Tigerwine 2020

A Disparate Vintage

On Tigerwine's latest, 'Nothing is for You,' vocalist and lyricist Trobee departs from the band's last effort as a concept record to write about an array subjects. Notably, Trobee tackles his evolution from rigid belief system to an acceptance and understanding of other ideas: "Through touring and becoming close with those very people I was taught to be afraid of, I realized how untrue it all is."


Full Feature
HM covers from over the years

HM Magazine Turns 35

In 1985, Doug Van Pelt photocopied a letter-sized sheets of paper, bound them together, and handed them out in person on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. It's all digital now, but, along the way, Van Pelt stirred up quite a few waves, played some seriously heavy music, and made a few friends along the way. Here: A quick look back at the magazine's 35-year history with Van Pelt and new owner, David Stagg.


Full Feature
Comrades 2020

Becoming Comrades

The trio of Comrades – husband and wife Joe and Laura McElroy alongside drummer John Gaskil – is used to living in a van and touring the country. Now, their new normal has provided them with a moment to "be adults" for once. We recently sat down with the McElroys to talk more about the spiritual reality within life, how soon they'll be able to release new music, and how koalas are their new normal.


Photo by Quinsey Sablan

Full Feature
All Features