About a Girl
Plaza Midwood musician Benji Hughes keeps his roots here as his music takes off
Benji Hughes remembers his first solo performance well: it was at Charlotte's Milestone Club, and he was only sixteen. And it was a success, deemed so by Hughes in part because there were girls there, and he's sure one of them even talked to him afterward.
Women and, more specifically, Hughes's affection for them dominate his debut album, A Love Extreme. The chase ("Tight Tee Shirt"), the pitfalls ("You Stood Me Up"), the dreamy, shiny euphoria ("So Well")—twenty-five songs spread over two discs, veering comfortably between blinky, digital dance numbers, guitar-driven pop in the mode of The Cars, and somber acoustic dirges.
Hughes, thirty-three, spent October in Europe opening for American indie rock star Jenny Lewis, and he splits his time between L.A. and Charlotte. But neither the West Coast nor critical acclaim (The New York Times calls his album "endearingly blurred pop") seems to have given Hughes a rock-star ego. "I've lived in the same neighborhood for ten to twelve years," says Hughes of his Plaza Midwood environs. "With the same people, too, which is awesome."