As a long-time Ben Joseph fan, I was excited to check out his new band Secret Bad Boy when they opened for Happyness at Empty Bottle on Friday night. I’ve seen Ben play keys and guitar with Ezra Furman + the boy-friends a dozen or so times. He’s always struck me as someone who understands a lot more about music than I ever will, and seeing him as the frontman for this new band only solidified that impression.
With only two songs out on Spotify, it was tough to know what to expect. Live, their set jumps from genre to genre, never settling in to one specific vibe. There was an instrumental intro with R&B and funk sounds. That led to a song with a synthy disco feel. When Joseph picked up a guitar things flipped to a whole new thing. At times reminiscent of Lou Reed with his speaking/singing, he’s also no less experimental.
I particularly like the guitar-heavy songs. The others are good, but I feel like there’s an energy to songs like “Chicken” and “Fleeting Love” that can’t be replicated by the keys.
It’s definitely worth following up and checking out the rest of their music. They had cassettes for sale at the show, but I don’t have a tape player. The Minimal Beat premiered one of their songs a couple weeks ago, so you can check that out here.
You can also hear their song “Double Platinum,” described by Joseph as being about the second-worst thing he’s ever done.