Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases

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Offline makiko

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Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« on: September 25, 2015, 12:46:47 AM »
Rank your Records: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
http://noisey.vice.com/blog/rank-your-records-ben-folds

1. Ben Folds Five (1995)
2. Rockiní the Suburbs (2001)
3. Whatever and Ever Amen (1997)
4. The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999)
5. Songs for Silverman (2005)
6. The Sound of the Life of the Mind (2012)
7. Way to Normal (2008)

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Offline Andy

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2015, 02:09:49 AM »
Really good read! Thanks Makiko.

~A
So smooth you can hear the beard.

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2015, 03:02:33 AM »
I think this and other recent interviews basically tell us Ben Folds Five (originally slotted for another album sometime after the Concerto) isn't walking back through the door anytime soon.  A bit surprising to see him put their recent release at second to last on his list.

I think he was also a bit hard on Reinhold and Silverman, which are two of my favorite Folds albums.

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Offline drummerstu

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 06:09:31 AM »
Dead right on WtN though - I hate that album with the exception of You Don't Know Me. I think he was hard on Silverman, or I have really bad taste as that's my favourite album ever.

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Offline AmateurHour1999

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 01:02:53 PM »
WtN I don't think should've been that low
I see that there is evil, and I know that there is good, and the in-betweens are never understood!

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Offline Sutter

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2015, 06:23:03 PM »
Absolutely agree that Silverman, SotLotM, and WtN are his three weakest in this list, but I would rank them like:

1. BF5
2. Whatever and Ever
3. Suburbs
4. Reinhold Messner
5. So There
6. Sound of the Life
7. Way to Normal
8. Lonely Avenue
9. Silverman

I really don't like Silverman. Kind of a boring album, IMO. Not gonna rank Fear of Pop or The Bens because those are pretty radical departures from typical stuff.

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Offline Allison

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2015, 07:14:55 PM »
I agree with the top 4, but in a rotating order that there's no way I could decide *a* number 1, ya know? I do think he's too hard on the SOTLOTM, but I can see where he's coming from that it didn't "sound like 2012". That being said. Away When You Were Here is one of my all time favorite Bf5 songs, and Erase Me is killer. I think it, and So There are too new (yes, 3 years) to really be able to retrospectively look at them. I very much agree with WtN being bottom. It feels forced. We know it was kind of forced/rushed. I agree, Silverman seems mid-tempo all the way through, but You to Thank has one of Ben's best piano lines, imo.

Feels like picking children. They can't ALL grow up to be doctors/lawyers/etc
mel (1:10:14 AM): love ben folds or burn!

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Offline Playhouse

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2015, 08:02:37 PM »
Intriguing order by Ben.  Would've thought he'd have placed Silverman higher than Suburbs, but it pleases me immensely that he didn't.

And a thing I love about this catalog is that, other than perhaps Way to Normal, there isn't an album among them that I couldn't put on and listen to at any point.  They are great listens all.

My own order:

9. Way to Normal
8. Songs for Silverman
7. Lonely Avenue
6. The Sound of the Life of the Mind
5. So There
4. Ben Folds Five
3. The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner
2. Rockin' the Suburbs
1. Whatever and Ever Amen
A one-hit wonder with no hits...

Hey, that's Oh-Ned-Er!

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2015, 08:19:04 PM »
This is so cool. I do find it strange that he couldn't include Lonely Avenue or So There just because they aren't filed under BFF or strictly solo. That being said, I think he's correct in his top four being his first four albums. The songwriting was so top notch!

Silverman has always been so dreary to me. Its funny to see him address this.

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2015, 05:33:18 AM »
Double post time, for my opinions

1.)Whatever and Ever Amen - Ben's songwriting at his best, while showcasing the definitive Ben Folds Five sound. This album defines his career.
2.)Rockin' the Suburbs - A little more radio friendly and simple than WAEA, but god does thing thing play like a greatest hits album. It's pretty much perfect
3.)Reinhold Messner - The melodies and instrumentals on this album have often made it my personal favorite. Beyond overlooked
4.)Ben Folds Five - A band trying to find it's sea legs in a glorious way. A temper tantrum at the piano, and a dozen brilliant songs.
5.)So There - His most ambitious album, for sure. I wish F10-DA was left off, but otherwise I really do enjoy the 7 chamber songs. And that concerto  \m/
6.)SOTLOTM - Great lyrics and great melodies. I do think more could have been done with the BFF sound here...maybe a bit more jamming out. A tad more "elbows to keys"
7.)Lonely Avenue - I have to be in the mood to listen to this, but when I am it really,really works. I think some of his best solo songs are on here.
8.)Way to Normal - Angry and up-tempo, this record will wake you up. Some of the songs are a bit shallow by Folds standards, but You Don't Know Me, Effington, Cologne, and Kylie are among his best
9.)Songs for Silverman - I very seldom listen to this album. There's a vibe about it that just bums me out after a while... I do listen to Gracie, You to Thank, and Jesusland  on their own once in a while, but all the other songs just seem to bring me down. I'm not against negative music, it can be beautiful, but there's just some kind of gloomy, uncomfortable mood that Ben captured on this album that steers me away from it.

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #10 on: September 27, 2015, 04:52:58 PM »
My list:
1) Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner - I don't like every song, but there are some fantastic ones on there.
2) Songs for Silverman - liked the feel of this one from the first time I heard it.  Also my first release-day album as a true fan.
3) The Sound of the Life of the Mind - strong album with fantastic harmonies.
4) Whatever and Ever Amen - hard for me to listen to this one objectively due to its popularity when I was in high school, but solid songs beginning to end.
5) So There - one or two more (or less; Yes Man and I'm Not the Man still haven't done anything for me) songs would have changed my outlook.
6) Lonely Avenue - one of the few Folds albums I can't listen to all the way through, as some of the songs really get on my nerves (Saskia for instance).  Some great ones too.
7) Way to Normal - would probably rank it higher if recorded differently.
8) Rockin' the Suburbs - I've always found the production to be too sterile.
9) Ben Folds Five - some good rock songs, but this one never caught me like the others.

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2015, 10:49:55 AM »
It's kinda funny -- he says not to hang everything on the actual rankings, and that seems to hold true for the list.  It seems like he had nicer things to say about records he "ranked" lower than ones he did higher.

Anyways, I'm ranking these on how I feel about them as albums as a whole.  Basically, how they play when you sit down and listen to them front-to-back, so cohesiveness of mood & album flow hold a lot of weight to go along with the overall song quality.

1) Reinhold Messner -- Just an excellent album that's easy to get absorbed in.  You've got a brilliant mood/flow established in the first 5 songs, then the next 6 take things in weird, experimental directions, but it never feels like it's veered off track in any way.  My favorite Ben album to listen to from start to finish.

2) Self-Titled -- Best collection of written material on any Ben album, hands down.

3) Songs For Silverman -- Ben says it may lack a bit of that punch, and I agree, but again, the melancholy that permeates the songs creates a very compelling vibe when strung together that doesn't let go until the album is finished.  Another effort (like Reinhold) where the sum is greater than the parts, though the parts are still pretty damn great.  Also, just as an aside, this is the only Ben album that works even better if you listen to it in reverse order, IMO.  Try it out if you haven't before.

4) Whatever and Ever -- I hate hate hate the sequencing.  I can never really get into the album when listening through it since it's just all over the place.  It's an absolutely brilliant collection of songs, no doubt, but I almost never sit down and listen to the whole thing since I just don't find it to be a particularly engaging or rewarding experience.

5) Sound of The Life -- The years have certainly been kind to this one, and I suspect they will continue to be so (AWYWH sleeper status confirmed, Allison).  Honestly, there are very few flaws with this one, but the biggest one is too hard to ignore.  "On Being Frank" is what I'd classify as a C-side and has no business being on this album, let along smack-dab right in the middle, just killing whatever mod or flow had previously been building, and the following songs are tasked with washing out the sour aftertaste.  I can't believe they didn't have anything else from their sessions worth turning into a song.  Oh well.

6) Rockin' the Suburbs -- Love the songs, but, during a complete listen-through, the production starts to grate on me pretty quickly.  I'm not quite sure what it is.... maybe the drums?  Yeah, that's probably the biggest culprit, among others.  To use rocket's term, it's a sterility that builds when you're listening to song after song, but doesn't necessarily make any impression when you're just listening to a single cut from the album.

7) Way To Normal -- Aside from a couple of nasty stinkers, it's actually a decent collection of songs, and plays quite cohesively as an album.  Say what you want about the mood of the album (or the man who wrote it at the time), but you can't deny there's absolutely no doubt regarding what it's about and what it was going for, and that counts for something when evaluating a collection of songs as a whole, IMO.

8 ) Lonely Avenue -- Too many songs I just skip over every time.  Yeah, there are some great ones (Doc Pomus is easily a Top-10 solo Ben song, and I actually like Saskia a lot), but on the whole, wildly inconsistent quality.  Even Picture Window should've been replaced with the bonus pop-version of the track.

And yeah, not enough time for a proper evaluation of So There.  :)

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #12 on: September 30, 2015, 01:51:11 PM »
"On Being Frank" is what I'd classify as a C-side and has no business being on this album, let along smack-dab right in the middle, just killing whatever mod or flow had previously been building, and the following songs are tasked with washing out the sour aftertaste.  I can't believe they didn't have anything else from their sessions worth turning into a song.  Oh well.

To each their own, as that's perhaps my favorite song on the album (my favorite modern Ben Folds bridge until So There unseated it).  :)

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Offline Sutter

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Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2015, 03:27:20 PM »
Ahhh, I have to do more detailed writeups now on each one. I'm also gonna reshuffle my list, after further thought on it. I'll be omitting So There and Lonely Avenue this time around, and counting the Super D/Sunny 16/Speed Graphic EPs as one album. Here we go:

1. Ben Folds Five

This album, not Whatever and Ever Amen, defines Ben Folds Five. It's a collection of loud and rambunctious music and it's written with a massive chip on its shoulder. There isn't a weak song from front to back. The mix and production are clearly not sanitized or commercialized, but they are perfect for the situation. In my opinion, this album could have been even better had Eddie Walker and Tom & Mary made the cut. I was too young to know the Five in their early days, but it seems to me that those were some really magical times for the band and its fans.

2. The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner

A critical and commercial flop to the tenth degree. If the album had been successful, perhaps the band would have survived to make the fabled "fourth album." Despite the fact that it flew under so many radars at the time, this album is a showcase of Ben's excellent songwriting and the growth of three super talented musicians. Ultimately I think that Messner is the album that dictated Ben's artistic direction from that point forward. He didn't need to be loud and he didn't need to make rockers. He just had to make music. The sequencing on this album surpasses that of any other, and rightly so, considering it was originally going to be one long song. Favorite thematic moment is the "I thought about the Army," separated by Your Redneck Past, going into "I thought about sitting on the floor in second grade," using the same melody and rhythm as in Army. This album is the most cohesive of Ben's career.

3. Rockin' the Suburbs

This album is, as Ben said, written like a brick shithouse. Once again there are very few weak spots in terms of pure songwriting on the album, but I feel it suffers in the one department I can safely call Ben's specialty: feeling. This is a sanitized, commercialized, rigid production, and the live versions of the songs from Rockin' the Suburbs tend to surpass the renditions featured on the album. In terms of songwriting, it's an A+, but it gets merely a B- in terms of execution. The Ben Folds Live and Songs for Goldfish versions of these songs are superior.

4. Whatever and Ever Amen

So this is the album that tends to define Ben Folds and Ben Folds Five to the masses. Let's get a few things straight about this album: while it's a very good album, it is not without its weak points. It isn't sequenced well and, as a consequence, lacks the cohesiveness of the self-titled album and Reinhold Messner. That being said, it is the most accessible album the Five ever released. "Brick" is a major departure from the typical Ben Folds Five sound and it also happens to be the band's only major hit. It almost seems that Ben and the band resent this song a bit these days, and they're not alone in this phenomenon. Radiohead hates Creep. Oasis hates Wonderwall. Billy Joel hates We Didn't Start the Fire. For some reason, these bands view these songs as being not representative of their work.

5. The Sound of the Life of the Mind

This reunion wasn't incredibly long in the making, but it certainly was hyped by the fans. Ever since the one-off reunion show in 2008, fans had been craving more from the Five, and they got it. Unfortunately, this is an underwhelming album if it truly is their last hurrah. Though it contains some great songs (Erase Me, Michael Praytor, On Being Frank, Hold That Thought come to mind), it contains some real garbage (Draw a Crowd and Do It Anyway are awful attempts at recapturing the band's old "f*ck it" attitude). The best part of this reunion by far was the tour that followed it, where a mildly reluctant, perhaps even slightly embarrassed-of-themselves Ben Folds Five played to extremely energetic, enthusiastic crowds for over a year. The last Ben Folds Five performance we're likely to see came on New Year's Eve 2013, where they opened for Billy Joel in Brooklyn. This event most evidently displayed the rift between Ben Folds fans and the typical consumer, as most people didn't know or care enough about Ben Folds Five to pay attention.

6. The Three EPs/Supersunnyspeedgraphic

Some might say this doesn't count, but all the songs seemed to be written around the same time and were released around roughly the same time as well. Ben eventually put all the songs together and released an LP which, for some reason, doesn't hold a candle to the individual EPs. It has some covers (including an awesome rendition of In Between Days), early songs that never made it to a Five album (Wandering, Kalamazoo, Protection), and a stripped down solo piano version of Give Judy My Notice, an album cut from Silverman. The LP features these songs using different takes and heavier production, and for some reason it just doesn't do it for me. The LP includes the regrettable Bitches Ain't Shit, another unfortunate defining song of Ben's career, and the awesome Still reprise from his work on Over the Hedge.

7. Songs for Silverman

I'm gonna be honest: I hate listening to this album. It's slow, tired, far too subdued, and desperately needs some muscle. There are some really good songs on this album, like Jesusland and Landed, but man the rest of this album just seems to melt into itself and lose definition. I hardly remember what some of these songs fully sound like. With those criticisms aside, I don't think there are any particularly bad stinkers on this album. I just think it should have been produced and arranged differently, and I think Ben should have gone less in the "whisper every song" direction and more in the "sing from your heart" direction. This album marks the beginning of what I consider to be the second half of Ben's career, concurrent with the significant change in his vocal style.

8. Way to Normal

Sometimes I listen to this album and think that it could've been something really special. Unfortunately, botched production and a bit of overconfidence on Ben's part may have ruined this album. I hear a song like Brainwascht, Free Coffee, and the Frown Song, and I wonder if Ben spent enough time making sure his music was good before he recorded it. It's not a good sign when the "fake" song counterparts of this album are often better than the ones that saw an official release. The two brightest spots on this album by far are You Don't Know Me and Cologne, the latter of which is a classic Ben Folds ballad.

Re: Ben Folds orders his solo and Ben Folds Five releases
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2015, 05:55:50 AM »
To each their own, as that's perhaps my favorite song on the album (my favorite modern Ben Folds bridge until So There unseated it).  :)

That's the great thing about Folds music.  Something for everyone.  :P  Looks like Sutter agrees with you too.  I think it's a lovely lyric, but musically I find it extremely uninspiring, like something he could have just crapped out for a 4.6 type contract.  Oh well, haha.

Oh, and also, since I (and others) have been critical of WAEA's sequencing, I thought it only fair to post how I'd order the tracks:

1. One Angry Dwarf
2. Battle Of Who Could Care Less
3. Kate
4. Song For the Dumped
5. Missing The War
6. Brick
7. Fair
8. Steven's Last Night
9. Cigarette
10. Selfless
11. Smoke
12. Evaporated