Mutual Benefit Admiration Society

Photo by Danny Dorsa
Photo by Danny Dorsa

Songwriter Jordan Lee, who performs as Mutual Benefit, has spent the recent years as a semi-nomad, traveling the country on his own, playing to small but devoted audiences in basements and living rooms. That might be changing now with his new album, “Love’s Crushing Diamond.”

Influential music reviewers Pitchfork gave the record their Best New Music imprimatur and further endorsed Lee by inviting him to perform at the upcoming launch party of their new print quarterly.

While he might be moving on to tour bigger venues, his loyal fans will likely be no less devoted. Now he is here to suggest tunes from some other under-the-radar musicians he feels devoted to himself.


My name is Jordan and I play music under the pseudonym Mutual Benefit. Here’s my dinner party soundtrack.

Emily Reo, “Coast”

The first track is called “Coast” and it’s by Emily Reo. Sometimes, when you put on a song at a dinner party, it’s really jarring. I think this one really eases you into the evening. It starts off very modestly and then this big church organ comes in and it’s huge.

The first time I heard this song I was sleeping on a couch in a rehearsal space, probably feeling a little lonely. It sounded like things I was making, and it was a really comforting presence.

Magical Mistakes, “With Love”

The second song is by a band called Magical Mistakes. It’s called “With Love.” I’m not usually drawn to completely electronic music but he incorporates a lot of organic sounds. He manipulates them where it’s very much a unique sonic space. Sometimes you can make violin really cheesy, but he kind of brings it in almost like a sample, and I think it’s really subtle and amazing.

At a dinner party you don’t want the music to be overpowering, but it is good to have something in the background to keep a warm buzz going.

Lau Nau, “Painovoimaa, Valoa”

For my third song, her name is Lau Nau. It’s called “Painovoimaa, Valoa.” Lau Nau is, I think, a librarian in a small Finish town. If you could have a spirit song the same way you have a spirit animal, mine would definitely be this song.

Instead of focusing on the melodies that the stringed instrument is making, it is being bowed and you can hear the buzz of the bow just as loud as the note that it’s making. She had a newborn baby when she wrote this, and so all the sounds are made when her child had fallen asleep. It’s almost like they’re trying to make a piece of art, but not wake up their kid.

Mutual Benefit, “Advanced Falconry”

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than playing your own music at a dinner party, but if that had to happen, I’m most proud of the song “Advanced Falconry.” “Advanced Falconry” was kind of a trend for a while amongst aristocrats, and they would have ornate headgear to put on their falcon, and they would have a matching outfit, and they would train their falcon to come back to them.

It’s ridiculous but it matches up with the idea of looking for contentment and looking for love. Sometimes it seems just as ridiculous to look for a lover or try to find contentment in this crazy world.