Ben Folds Five leaves a pair of indie acts in its wake, having defeated Aimee Mann in Round One with 60% of the vote and Vampire Weekend in Round Two with 75%. Counting Crows enjoyed a unanimous victory against Morrissey in Round One before taking down the legendary David Bowie with 63%. Continue reading
For a moment, I thought I had. So I went back to my notes to see exactly how things shook out.
Turns out the album was in the 21st spot, bumped out of the countdown when I decided to make a space for Adele’s 21, which I had forgotten when first compiling the list.
I’d seen the group twice before, touring for their second and third albums, and I’d seen Folds perform solo once. I also have many recordings of the band playing live, from a DVD of their excellent Sessions at West 54th performance to both released and bootleg audio files.
So while I’m not exactly the BFF equivalent of a Deadhead, I am pretty familiar with the band’s live show.
I’ve been doing a lot of theme weeks in recent months. I like the structure they provide and, I’ll be honest, it’s easier to come up with five songs per week around a specific theme than to write five discrete posts.
Still, I sometimes like the chance to throw out five unrelated songs to make five unrelated points — even if the point is as simple as ‘I like this song.’
So I’ll do that this week. (Wait, did this just become a theme?)
One of my happiest musical memories of 2012 was the reunion of Ben Folds Five thirteen years after their last album together. Their new record, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, sounded exactly like a Ben Folds Five record should sound a decade later — it wasn’t a flashback so much as an evolution.
It’s funny how the addition of a drummer and bassist who rarely contribute to the songwriting can change a band’s sound. The difference between the four Ben Folds Five albums and Folds’ solo work is really just the men behind the instruments. But Darren Jesse and Robert Sledge combine with Folds to form a musical alchemy that elevates the whole package.
The band put out three studio albums between 1995 and 1999 then broke up unexpectedly. Their output generated one medium-sized hit (‘Brick’) and a small but devoted legion of fans like myself who couldn’t believe something so great ended so quickly.