Ben Union is the stage name for local musician Ben Mira, who has been playing in and around the area with his band for about two years now. The guitarist and singer-songwriter, 23, has been playing harmonica, keyboards and guitar for the past 12 years and was inspired to become a musician at an early age after seeing musicians practice at his dad's church in Australia.
Mira is a fan of local singer and guitarist Steve Stefanowicz, who has inspired and given advice to the budding young music star.
Ben Union's first full-length album, "The Light" was released earlier this month at a CD release party at Jazzbones, a venue the band frequents. The 11-track album was recorded in Tacoma in eight months and affirms he and his band wanted to get out a record befitting their unique hybrid sound of self-proclaimed progressive funk rock.
The first title track, "The Light," blasts out with heavy electric guitar and almost takes on a hardcore sound initially. But that impression soon gives way to the funk and near-reggae tones the band has become known for.
The second and eighth tracks, "No Name" and "Ready, Set, Go," are instrumental and give off an ambient, post-rock vibe. These tracks start out slower than the others and focus more on drums, bass and guitar syncing together in light breakdowns. These tracks give the album a welcomed change of pace and prove Ben Union's range is far-reaching.
"Kiss the Girl" implores men to stop playing games with the girls they love and show the ladies how they feel. "It's not the things you say/ it's the things you do/ you have to learn to follow through" is solid advice for men looking to be involved in successful relationships with members of the opposite sex.
A prominent influence from the Police's popular single "Roxanne" is evident on the chorus guitar playing on the record's tenth track, "Light of the World." The song begins with a much more pop, alt-rock sound that fades away to the funkier, mid-tempo tracks Ben Union is wont to deliver. The track seems well-groomed for alternative radio airplay as is, right off the record.
Mira has the advantage of being a young, driven and inspired local singer-songwriter with much support backing his creative endeavors. The musician seems to have built up a solid foundation of fans, music venues to frequent, as well as solid, no-frills songwriting skills, which all help solidify the fact that his success is as inevitable as the seasons.
Ben Union plays The Hub for an Autism Awareness benefit April 15 at 5 p.m., the High Dive in Seattle on May 7 and The Hub again on May 22. For more information, to hear songs or purchase the record, visit www.benunion.com.