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River City Extension Brings Ben Henderson Back to South Bay

In Music
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Ben Henderson, who’s been out of town since the beginning of May, will pay San Jose a visit by way of New Jersey when the band he’s been playing bass for, River City Extension, makes a stop at the Blank Club this Sunday. Henderson will also be opening the show with a solo set.

River City Extension, who are well known in their home state of Jersey, are trying to broaden their national fan base by touring in support of their new album, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. It’s a well-crafted record that stands out in the sea of indie-folk, by not just incorporating elements of country, bluegrass and pop, but also delivering some heartfelt passion and bubbling joy, as opposed to the sleepy melancholy popular with a lot of the bigger genre names like Bon Iver, Iron and Wine and Fleet Foxes.

That doesn’t meant that River City Extensions songs aren’t drenched in every bit as much pain as the aforementioned artists. It’s just delivered in a more emotionally complex package. The music at times builds from sad acoustic openers to full out hand-clapping and sing-along foot-stompers. Some songs follow the standard pop formula, but with more sophisticated instrumentation, like a cello, trumpet, mandolin and a banjo. “Welcome to Pittsburg” is a delightful hit single waiting to happen.

The band has eight members, which in the wrong hands, could be musical overkill. But Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger shows restraint and dynamics. They have grown quite a bit since their debut album by emphasizing both the Americana and pop elements. According to the band’s press release, the two biggest influences on the album were Townes Van Zandt and Feist. It shows.

The range, both lyrically and musically is impressive, but what the album most has going for it is that it’s fun, full of joy and has plenty of working-class Jersey soul.

River City Extension perform at the Blank Club in San Jose on Sunday, June 17, at 8pm; $10.

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