Take one part Aimee Mann, one part Pete Yorn, stir in some Tori Amos and add a dash of Yiddishkayt and you've got two of the newest sounds in rock.
The brooding but sweet Ben Arthur and the edgy yet fun Jennifer Marks will give L.A.'s book lovers a vocal treat when they perform on the Starbucks Stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA on April 24 and 25. The two will also autograph their respective CDs at The Jewish Journal's festival booth.
"Most of my material comes from a place where the most grim and difficult sentiments lurk under a catchy melody," Virginia-raised Arthur said.
The melancholy performer has opened for Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin and played with Dave Mathews.
His morbid title track, "Edible Darling," pontificates about a friend who raises pigs to eat them: "The most beautiful angel/Is the angel of death/Vinegar-throated/Confused and bereft." "Keep Me Around," is a Zevonesque, tongue-in-cheek takeoff on "Weekend at Bernie's," featuring a corpse that begs to hang out at the house.
"I tend to be into lush images," Arthur said. "I don't like songs that are too specific, too literal, with just a single meaning."
Marks comes in at a slightly different key. The New York University music business major was inspired by the Annie Lennox/Aretha Franklin anthem, "Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves," and went on to produce several albums independently.
The Long Island redhead's humor shines through in her lyrics and album titles -- her 2000 album is titled, "My Name Is Not Red." Her songs have been featured on the soap, "As the World Turns," and on a few indie film soundtracks.
"I didn't even realize you could be a songwriter for a living until I was 17 or 18 years old," said Marks, who has won several prestigious songwriting contests in the past few years, including the USA Songwriting Contest and the Great American Song Contest.
Referring to her years of hard work, Marks said, "You don't just wake up and write a song."
Ben Arthur will perform April 24 at 3 p.m. and April 25 at 4 p.m. Jennifer Marks will perform April 24 at 4 p.m and April 25 at 3 p.m. The two will sign autographs at The Jewish Journal booth from 5-6 p.m. on April 24 and will make periodic appearances on April 25 from 1-3 p.m.