Robb Benson's new project delivers great songs with no bells and whistles, but it's not quite enough to make the Glass Notes indispensable.
It doesn't mean much to say that a band sounds like the Beatles. Is it even a compliment? The Glass Notes can be our case study. The band is a new trio fronted by Robb Benson, a Seattle workhorse who's spread his name around with acts like Dept of Energy and the Nevada Bachelors. Dust and Hours, the debut album, sounds good, but it sounds old somehow. It sounds like it would be a masterpiece from musicians with that extra smidgen of genius.
That's not to say that Benson and his bandmates aren't accomplished. There only a couple of missteps here, no indulgences, and there are some pretty songs and some poignant turns of phrase. "Our First Record", for example, is a nostalgic, self-aware elegy for a musician's first efforts, though it's not obvious that the "our" of the title is meant to be the band itself. And that's what holds the Glass Notes together: Benson, singing bassist Jake Uitti's lyrics, can transform himself into seemingly anyone.
The Glass Notes have the talent and the impact to garner legitimate comparisons to their canonical, professed influences; Benson manages admirably the balance between singer, songwriter and musician. But there will always be a 'but' in the next sentence. They're good, they're just not that good.