Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#4: Ben Folds Five - Ben Folds Five (1995)

Another album that I've always been a big fan of. Throughout the tracks we hear a very distinct sound, jazzy, angry, bouncy piano with a fuzz bass guitar and tasteful, emotional drums. No guitars are on the album as this is a three piece band throughout. Most people are familiar with Ben Folds Five from the 'Whatever and Ever' album that contained the single 'Brick'. They've described their music as "punk rock for sissies."

The song begins with a very open "I was never cool in school" which melds into a piano pop rock song featuring lots of falsettos. The first time hearing it I remember being surprised at just how much a piano based trio can really, really rock. The song ranges in emotion from jovial, to honest, from rocking, to jazzing out, and it has no problems poking at itself.

The Last Polka
One of Ben Folds Five's best songs. This is the reason I fell in love with them and the reason why no matter what they'll ever record - I'll buy it. Speaking of which - Ben Folds Five is coming out with a new album for the first time in 13 years. This song does an amazing job blending genres. The drums keep a very polka-esque feel, the bass keeps the fuzz going to keep the rock, and the piano is just all over the place. Really that's the key to all of their music, an amazing rhythm section that does something different from the piano to help showcase Ben Folds' chops. "Well I hate that it's come to this, but baby I was doing fine, how do you think that I survived the other 25 before you?" Check out the live recording here or that's linked on the name of the song above.

Another reason they are one of the most underrated bands. Boxing is a song about Cassius Clay's (Muhammad Ali) indecision on weather or not to continue or retire from boxing. The song could simply sung with just a piano the song and convey more emotion than any other track on the record, but strings and drums come in to fill it out perfectly. That's not to say the rest of the album isn't sung without soul - it just speaks to the amazing job Ben Folds did in the booth on this song.

All in all, it's one of my favorites. It's not the greatest album ever written or recorded but it hits me in a spot that few other albums have ever found. One of my favorite little facts about the band is that they used to tour with an actual piano even when they couldn't afford it because it gave them street cred. I mean, if these guys are bringing an actual piano to a gig - they must be good.

Tomorrow's album: Louvin Brothers' Tragic Songs of Life (1956)

No comments:

Post a Comment