Friend in Law

Friend in Law: “Hold Out”

Way before Elon Musk or Joe Rogan moved here, I remember seeing a ton of bumper stickers and T-shirts with slogans like these: “Don’t L.A. my A.T.X.”, “Don’t Dallas My Austin”, and yes, even “Don’t Put Your Big ‘D’ in My Little ‘A’”. Now, I can’t recall the last time I saw one of those in person, and as a native Austinite, I’m cool with that! Because y’all, we simply wouldn’t have the melting pot that is The Live Music Capital without new locals sharing their art.

And although the thought of another in-law just days after Thanksgiving might make your heart skip a beat, I can assure you that there’ll always be a seat at Austin’s table for Ben Murray and his solo affair Friend In Law. See, Murray’s move down here nearly eight years ago was a critical first step in rekindling his teenage love of penning and performing guitar-driven tunes. Once COVID hit, Murray doubled down on his once-juvenile dreams of becoming a self-produced musician, an auteur in the vein of Kevin Parker or Mac DeMarco.

Rooted in Murray’s ongoing DAW immersion, Friend In Law’s sonics follow a family tree of ’60s/’70s classics with contemporary limbs like pop punk knotted along the way. As of now, Friend In Law’s studio output is still fledgling. But when you hear how calculated each tone, note, and inflection is, you sure as heck won’t want to rush Murray’s progressing greatness. These things take time! And as heard on Friend In Law’s latest single, time can define people and places. As such, “Hold Out” is a triumph of triplet rhythms, a sanguine psych-shoegaze soundscape, and above all, an arresting piece of nostalgia.

Friend In Law: “Stand to Be”

We all know how dangerous social media can be, especially if you’re a solo creative; with the instant feedback and gratification of “likes”, there’s less incentive to craft your art with time and care. That brings us to Austin singer-guitarist-producer Ben Murray, better known by his handle Friend In Law. Friend In Law marries turn-of-the-millennium pop rock with ’90s-style alternative and juxtaposes gloomy moods with lively guitar arrangements, as heard on the three inaugural singles Murray shared last year. But inspired by the crystalline results of fellow bedroom producer Bite Your Own Teeth’s self-made EP, Murray decided to learn the ropes and give Friend In Law’s latest original the time it deserves. After eight months in the oven, “Stand to Be” is a testament to Murray’s progression into a patient, keen-eared producer. And even though it was mastered by John Greenham (who’s provided final tweaks for folks like Billie Eilish, Cautious Clay, and Lady Gaga), you can really hear a step-up in “Stand to Be”‘s sound over its predecessors. With quirky acoustic vibes reminiscent of Mac DeMarco or Bright Eyes, reverbed-out tom accents, and a maniacal march of a chorus, “Stand to Be” serves as a promising milestone in Murray’s maturation.