Ben Pirani Credit: Rosie Cohe

Former Chicago man-about-town Ben Pirani has played a lot of musical roles over the past couple of decades, among them jamming with a bunch of psych bands, including Civilized Age; drumming in maniacal grindcore group My Lai; and playing guitar in blues-rock outfit Chicago Stone Lightning Band. But while Pirani has spent much of his life mastering all the realms of punk and rock, he truly hit his stride about ten years ago, when he started dabbling in funky electro-soul—he made an impression as the hype man for the DJ night he helped found, Windy City Soul Club. After taking on the persona of Benjamin—a groovy and cocky extension of himself—Pirani relocated to New York, where he linked up with another musical Ben (Ben Carey) to release 2015’s Arriving via Cherries Records. Though its spacey pop-R&B is a ton of fun, the album proved to be merely a stepping stone toward Pirani’s first full-length under his full name, fall’s How Do I Talk to My Brother (Colemine)—a touching, powerful slab of authentic soul that sounds like it’s straight out of 1962. With its airtight rhythms and lush orchestration, How Do I Talk to My Brother is proof that Pirani is the real deal, and shows that his punk roots still ring true. While the tunes are pretty and smooth, Pirani delivers them with grit and passion, creating the kind of rough-around-the-edges glory that could only come from a child of the Fireside Bowl.   v