Since the early ‘90s Ben Bergenstein has been playing in bands and only recently decided to start a solo project entitled Woke Up Down. He is currently working on a full length but most recently released a self-titled EP Woke Up Down. Bergenstein’s influences from ‘90s alternative bands are obvious from the production to the songwriting itself. Bergenstein has some talent but Woke Up Down is a far from perfect EP that doesn’t really paint many unique aspects to the music. Most of the songs feel like familiar alternative songs you heard before in some capacity. There are some inspired moments but not many clearly defining qualities. The other aspect that was hit and miss was the vocals. There were a number of times I could barely hear what he was singing. On top of that Bergenstein isn’t always on key and occasionally delivers unflattering notes.
The album starts with “Change” which is one of the highlights on the EP. Bergenstein gets creative with a solid guitar verse during the verse and the song is fairly catchy. A little extra reverb on the vocals would have helped and increasing the volume of the drums during the chorus would have benefited the visceral impact. I thought the end of the song was inventive as he adds a synth that provides a nice texture to the sounds.
“Better” is the most original sounding song of the five. The song starts with a huge synth and drums. There is a bit of a dance vibe but the song goes into ballad territory when the chorus begins. The juxtaposition was a bit jarring but he happens to deliver his best vocal performance with this track. “Your Gone” and “Fear No More” are straightforward rock songs that don’t need much explanation. The songs revolve around basic chord structures and transitions that has a ubiquitous, indefinable quality. Bergenstein closes with a solid song entitled “Dream Master” in which he goes into what sounds like rock opera territory.
Bergenstein’s biggest strengths lie in his songwriting. Some of the songs have pockets of inspiration but it often felt like Bergenstein was holding back from experimenting and playing it relatively safe. Some people are naturally gifted singers and unfortunately Bergenstein is not. That’s ok because singers like Wayne Coyne and Isaac Brock often get blasted for not being able to hit a note but look where they got. Either way with a bit more polish and practice I think Bergenstein will do fine and I hope to hear so on his album.
Bergenstein has his work cut out for him if he wants to compete with some of today's best artists. This is a case of wait and see.
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