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Ben Folds Five 4/26 “airplane blog”

27th Apr 12 (Fri) Leave a comment

5/4/12 Update: Ben Folds posted the 1st sneak peak (full track, free mp3 download) from the upcoming Ben Folds Five record…Do It Anywayhttp://bit.ly/IR7qg1

Ben Folds posted the following “airplane blog” last night on Facebook about the work they’ve done on the upcoming Ben Folds Five record… lots of news and insight…

About Ben Folds Five, the new album.

I’m writing this on a plane. I tweeted that I wanted to blog and most responses were – blog about the new album. Fine, I’ll start there. I won’t correct grammar or spelling so hopefully we’ll all deal. I’m typing as fast as I can… and I type damn fast if I do say so myself. I just screw up a lot….

The album started in January. We just started playing and recorded shitloads of stuff.

A way that I often wrote for us was to just sit and imagine what kind of sound, song, sentiment, arrangement I’d like to hear us do. It’s easy to imagine because we have a very distinct style of playing together that was pretty much writ in stone from our first rehearsal on. There were a couple of breakthroughs back in the day… Eddie Walker was one. We figured out some tonal stuff – the floor tom ride with lots of AAAHS and fuzz bass on the chorus was a defining technique for instance.

On the new album we’ve discovered quite a few new things like that. We’re tonally a few steps into the future. I remember when bands all had a ‘sound’. I know that sounds like a total old man thing to say, but hey if the orthopedic shoe fits… You know, a band that just set up their shit, played in the corner and just had a fresh sound. I’m not saying there’s no style today, just that plugging in and working with what you have makes you work hard to find a sound… okay. I’m rambling but that’s what I promised to do in the blog.

So we played hours of stuff on tape and it was inspired. Quite insane. I got little sleep for weeks as I had idea after idea on how to make these sounds into songs. I’d spend the mornings at the piano and then the guys would come in. It was a burst. We began on Pro Tools with the idea of moving off when we started recording ‘for real’ but we saw no advantage of moving over as we were only using the Tools as a tape deck anyway and were enjoying the freedom of being able to record more than a fifteen minutes of music at a time.

We set up in my studio in the same room with a little baffling, but without the interest in separation. In other words, for engineers, we welcomed bleed.

Lyrically it began to take shape quickly and we were much richer in ideas and material than any of the albums we did together. We were supporting each other, trying each idea instead of poo poo-ing each other’s creativity. It was a pretty amazing experience. UNTIL…

We ran out of time because I had stuff to do, Darren had a Hotel Lights tour and Robert’s son is too young to leave for too long. So we stopped and that’s where we are.

The lyric stuff. Loss of ego. That emerged as a theme. Ways to lose the ego. Funny thing is that I didn’t realize that each of those ego losing songs would be failures. I mean, each character who aspired to do so only succeeds for a short time and then the ego comes back. I guess that’s the way it works in real life. Anyway… for instance…. Being Frank. That’s a song on the album. It’s kind of historical fiction in a way. Certainly when Frank Sinatra died, he had a tour manager and let’s say that tour manager was with him his whole career. Decades. When Frank passed the tour manager might have realized that he’d spent most of his adult life setting the thermostat for someone else, eating his leftovers, essentially trying to think like Frank to anticipate his needs. Frank’s death would have been a crisis but an exciting one. How to be yourself when someone you’re attached to is gone. What kind of coffee do you like, who are you really? But then I started to realize that that tour manager would have wanted to take some credit for Frank’s career. He suggested THAT lyric or that TV show etc. Frank was really being HIM. Loss of ego, failure.

Other songs titles… Erase Me. Do It Anyway. The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind (that’s Nick Hornby’s lyric and my music). Sky High (beautifully written Darren song). We really spent quite a bit of production time on Sky High. It warranted it. You know that 10cc trick where they looped vocals, unison AHHHs and assigned each note to a fader on the console? Then they play the console like it’s a keyboard using the faders. We did that. Nobody does that and they should. It’s not “copying” 10cc… it’s recognizing that they invented an instrument. We play that instrument on Sky High. I’ll put up video of that. It’s kinda interesting.

What else… I’ve had a chorus that goes “If you can’t draw a crowd, draw dicks on the wall” for quite a while. Since Reinhold era. It had different melodies, but I always liked the idea. When someone wants attention and they don’t get it, often we do something really stupid or even destructive. The song is Draw A Crowd. It’s partially silly and partially deep. Many will latch on to the silly part and give me shit for it and maybe when they grow up they’re get the other part. If not, oh well. It’s okay. I like Kesha songs and some people don’t.

We’ll get back together in June. We kinda fucked up. We meant to finish the album and then do gigs. But we’re doing a few festivals and will be paddling ferociously between those gigs to finish our album. That’s alright. Deadlines are good.

I suppose the album should come out in September and we do not want to release it traditionally at all. I’m all into traditional record releases but for this one… I want to avoid ass kissing. It’s not healthy. I think we’re going to pass on radio promo and on most advance press. No sending it out for reviews etc. We’ll just let you know through Twitter and Facebook that it’s coming out. That’s the idea, and we’ll see how that goes. Maybe we’ll adjust our thinking. Just seems like such a musical experience I hate to be in the position of selling it to people who don’t care. I’d rather spend my time telling people who DO care and save the money and time. Sell fewer records probably to those who want it. That leaves more time to make new records and tour. Less ass kissing, more music and life. A good theory… we’ll see… lemme know what you think of that theory.

What else can I tell you. If you’re a Robert fan, you’ll shit. He’s better than ever and we’ve grown into knowing how to put him up front and letting him do what he does. Darren is playing lyrically as ever, like a fine jazz drummer – cymbals are gorgeous and he doesn’t give a damn so every once in a while he just makes a mockery of every drum fill you’ve ever heard but does it twice as crazy and makes it mean something. It’s quite damn amazing. Look out for what he does on a song called Michael Praytor. That song comes from a ‘rock this bitch’ partially. I’d always liked the melody but it comes to life with Robert and Darren in a way I never expected. Its a song about how some people just come back and back into your life whether you like it or not. You don’t choose them, they just show up.

There you go. I’ll do another blog now. The record pops out of the speakers and I’m finding myself wondering if we should tone it down. Nope. I think it’ll be just fine.

~Dan – np: Many ArmsMany Arms

* Favorite Vocal Albums of 2011 *

29th Dec 11 (Thu) 6 comments

I’ve been buying less music… or, at least a lot less mainstream (major label) music. This is also my fourth year now that I bought more instrumental CDs than vocal CDs. I think as I get older, I am drawn more towards jazz and other instrumental forms of expression. For that reason, the favorite vocal albums list goes first this go ’round. Hopefully my spilling out of music that I like finds interest with someone else. But if not, thanks for stopping by… check out the artists’ webpages, Facebox pages, yadda yadda yadda. A lot of these also made it on to my 2011 Mix CD (free streaming/download).

OK, now on to the best of what’s hit my ears this year…

Honorable Mentions: Iron & WineKiss Each Other Clean, Tres MtsThree Mountains, PomplamooseThe Album You Bought At Our Show (Thanks for That), MC FrontalotSolved and The RootsUndun.

BjörkBiophilia :: It started with an iPhone / iPad app… I was skeptical, but it turned out to be a really cool app and a really cool album.  I don’t think the actual music broke any new ground for Bjork, but her willingness to approach technology and manifest an album initially with a new format is what will keep her in the forefront for me.
Elysian FieldsLast Night on Earth :: Brooklyn-based sultry art rockers Elysian Fields don’t really tour outside of NYC often.  Jennifer Charles and Oren Bloedow find their way to Europe on occasion, but most U.S. fans only really have their studio albums to sate their musical desires.  This is their sixth full-length album in their near 16-year career.  Well crafted, well produced, lush vocals and folk meets dusky jazz.
BlackfieldWelcome to My DNA :: I was disappointed that I couldn’t make it out for this tour.  The album is good, albeit a little disjointed compared to their other two albums (probably due to Aviv Geffen doing more of the writing versus Steven Wilson who was busy with his solo album – see #9 below).  Nice orchestration and a solid offering from Blackfield.
Dream TheaterA Dramatic Turn of Events :: I almost didn’t buy this album.  I’m glad I did, but I’m still pretty pissed at the band for choosing to continue without founder/drummer Mike Portnoy after he expressed an interest in a short hiatus/breather.  They picked up a drummer I like (Mike Mangini, who i saw play with Extreme in 1995), but a BIG piece of what I loved about DT (after Kevin Moore left in 1994) was Mike Portnoy’s energy.  With his absence, I’m liking them less and less.  The album is good, but it’s way more bitter than sweet to me.
Foo FightersWasting Light :: Dave Grohl is a modern rock genius.  He rocks, he hooks, he continues to put out great music.
Steven Bernstein’s Millennial Territory OrchestraMTO Plays Sly :: A trumpet-led tribute to Sly and the Family Stone with guests vocalists.  This superb collection is less funk, but still quite enjoyable.  My favorite is the Antony-sung “Family Affair.”
Florence + the MachineCeremonials :: Soulful baroque-rock chanteuse won me over with their first album Lungs, even though I didn’t pick it up this year.  Her second album solidifies her as more than a fluke.  The album is dancey and dark.  Great for fans of Tori Amos & Kate Bush!
IncubusIf Not Now, When? :: Incubus took some time off so guitarist Mike Einziger could work on his degree at Harvard and singer Brandon Boyd could put out some art as well as his solo album.  They regrouped and put out an album that had a similar vibe to the ocean-groove Morning View.  They aren’t breaking new ground, but they still have a solid position in my ears.
The Jelly JamShall We Descend :: The supergroup of Ty Tabor (King’s X), John Myung (Dream Theater) and Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs) finally found some time to hit the studio!  The result is an excellent rock album…
ChevelleHats Off to the Bull :: Chevelle are a sleeper in my collection.  I almost write them off and then with each album, I think how stupid it’d be to write them off.  Great hard rock with a vocalist that reminds me of Maynard (Tool, etc).  I really need to see this band live – I’ve yet to have a the chance…
My Brightest Diamond & Murat EyubogluLetters to Distant Cities :: A short spoken word album, featuring the words of Mustafa Ziyalan.  Words spoken by Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), backing music by Murat Eyubolu, with two songs sandwiching the poetry – one by MBD and one by Clare & the Reasons.  A great arty piece.
 
Jason LudwigTanglings :: Jason Ludwig returns to the Cincinnati music scene after his 2010 band break up (Noctaluca) with two full-length albums (Tanglings and Lost in Love).  Tanglings is my favorite of the two, but they’re both quite excellent.  Well-produced, well-arranged, creative singer-songwriter that reminds me of a cross between the pop of Glen Hansard (of the Swell Season and the Frames) and the creative of Daniel Johns (of Silverchair). If you don’t like these albums, I’d be surprised.
Hotel LightsGirl Graffiti :: Darren Jesse was the drummer for Ben Folds Five, and wrote one of my absolute favorite songs for them – “Magic” from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner.  He puts down the sticks and picks up the guitar and vocal duties for Hotel Lights.  This is HL’s 3rd album, and he continues to impress me with his versatile skills.  Poppy indie rock.
EisleyThe Valley :: The long gap between The Valley and their last album was trying for the band.  After many contract dispute with their former label (Warner), they were finally set free.  Many bands don’t make it out of contract disputes alive – it’s easier to break up sometimes.  Well, thankfully it’s difficult for Eisley to break-up, as they’d still see each other at holidays and family get-togethers (the band consists of 3 sisters, a brother, and a cousin).  The Valley picks up where 2007’s Combinations left off.  Alt-pop-rock goodness.  Vocal duties traded off between sisters Sherri & Stacy…
Tori AmosNight of the Hunters :: This was Tori’s first album on classical label Deutsche Grammophon.  I was skeptical at first, not because of the classical bent.  I knew she could handle that… I was skeptical due to the first artwork that looked plastic (which sadly stayed) and her last studio album was a lackluster (IMO) holiday album (blech).  Tori enlists her daughter Natashya on some vocals, and delivers one of my favorite Tori albums since 2002’s Scarlet’s Walk.
David BazanStrange Negotiations :: Continuing in his solo expressions after the official ceasing of Pedro the Lion, David Bazan manifests wit, a sharp tongue, and a questioning mind into his DIY-indie rock.  This year, he toured quite a bit, solo and with a band.  An album last year (Curse Your Branches), an album this year, and another on the way.  He’s slogging away, trekking all over the country, and making some great music on the way.
Steven WilsonGrace for Drowning :: Porcupine Tree frontman Steven Wilson is a hard worker.  Whether he’s producing albums for others or making albums & touring with PT, Blackfield, No-Man, Storm Corrosion, or solo – he’s always busy each and every year.  This year brought his second solo album and a small tour.  The album is a bit more stripped down from his other projects.  It is reminiscent of Pink Floyd in spots – specifically this song “Home in Negative.”  He also rocks out a bit in the almost two hour double album… check out the video for “Track One” here (it’s a bit bleak then startling).  Gorgeous work.
WussyStrawberry :: Well, I was super happy when I found out that Wussy was putting out their fourth full-length studio album this year. They’re a fantastic rock quartet made up of Chuck Cleaver, Lisa Walker, Mark Messerly, and Joe Klug. They write catchy, poppy choruses and meld it perfectly with Midwest Americana-meets-indie-rock grit (or “Midwestern drone” as their press says).   Vocal duties are traded off with Chuck (of Ass Ponys) and Lisa (of Magic Words).
RadioheadThe King of Limbs :: I could probably put an “indie” icon next to Radiohead… I think technically they put TKOL out by themselves.  But they’re a huge superpower of a band.  I like this record, but I’ll admit that it’s still sinking in… I need to give it some more spins.  This album spawned a seven 7″ vinyl remix set.  The video for “Lotus Flower” also spawned a silly “Thom Yorke dancing” meme… one of my favorites being the tennis/fish and the “Single Ladies” editions.
Jeffrey FoucaultHorse Latitudes :: Jeffrey Foucault is a favorite Americana artist that I got turned on to by singer-songwriter/storyteller Peter Mulvey.  Jeffrey and Peter work together in the band Redbird (with David Goodrich and Jeffrey’s wife Kris Delmhorst).  I didn’t pick up Jeffrey’s albums until the past year and a half.  He’s definitely more on the cusp of country than I tend to traverse, but I dig his authenticity, poetic wit and charm.  He’s a delight on stage and a fantastic John Prine-esque songwriter for the new generation.
OpethHeritage :: Mikael Åkerfeldt hangs up the cookie monster vocals and “Swedish death metal” rattle and puts out a solid heavy metal album that is a tribute to his progressive metal ancestors.  I’ll admit, I miss the heavier side, but it’s still good to see Mikael evolve.
Over the RhineThe Long Surrender :: For those that don’t know Over the Rhine, they started out as a four piece in Cincinnati in 1989 and put out their “post-nuclear, pseudo-alternative, folk-tinged art-pop” indie debut ‘Til We Have Faces in 1991. After about a decade as a four-piece, Ric Hordinski (guitars) & Brian Kelley (drums) left.  Karin Bergquist (vocals) & Linford Detweiler (keys) carried on the Over the Rhine flame throughout the years… moving away from a rockier feel to a more folky-pop-Americana thing. What I like about Over the Rhine is they continually change and evolve into a different band with each album and each outing. I’ve seen them rock out, I’ve seen them jazz it up, I’ve seen them happy, I’ve seen them somber, I’ve seen them celebratory, and I’ve seen them tell stories that will make you laugh and cry.
dredgChuckles and Mr. Squeezy :: I love this band.  I hate the album title, but I love the band.  Modern progressive rock, tons of talent, thoughtful lyrics, none of that “prog wankery” that is generally detestable.  While it’s hard for them to follow-up the stunning The Pariah The Parrot The Delusion (from 2009), this new album does a hearty job of maintaining their quality rock standards.
My Brightest DiamondAll Things Will Unwind :: Shara Worden (aka My Brightest Diamond) took some time off since her last album – 2008′s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth.  She put out some stunning collaborations in the past three years (see #15 above) including her first kiddo; so the lapse in studio work was a-OK.  On this album, Shara teams up with NYC-based ensemble yMusic to create a lush backdrop for her gorgeous voice.  I can’t praise this album enough!
PusciferConditions of My Parole :: Tool / A Perfect Circle frontman Maynard James Keenan makes wine and makes other music in his time off from Tool and APC.  I loved Puscifer’s debut and the subsequent EP, but this album tops it all.  It’s a brilliant record, recorded in one of his wine cellars with his friends – featuring backing vocals from Carina Round.  It’s self-released by Puscifer music with a small distribution partner (available in indie shops, primarily).  The tour this year was great (I caught Seattle), and I’m glad they’re heading out in the spring again (I’ll be at Portland).

Check out the 2011 Mix for some samples, click the Amazon buttons for other samples, and support the music if you like what you hear!

My Other Favorites of 2011 Recaps:

~Dan – np: Trent Reznor & Atticus RossThe Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

New Ben Folds Five song “Tell Me What I Did”

30th Aug 11 (Tue) 2 comments

Another new streaming song from Ben Folds Five from the upcoming The Best Imitation of Myself retrospective… “Tell Me What I Did” is now streaming over on Stereogum.  Check the blog below for the first new BFF song, “House.”  One more new BFF song is out there, “Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues” will likely show up soon on some other music blog (Pitchfork? Spin?)…

New Ben Folds Five song "House" Ben Folds Five will go down in history as one of the bands that actually looked like they were having fun on stage.  When they broke-up in the Fall of 2000, a bit of happiness died.  Ben went on to do a lot of solo work (some Five-ish, some not), bassist Robert has stayed active in the NC music scene, and drummer Darren has put out a few gorgeous records with his band Hotel Lights (where he sings and plays guitar).  In fact, I just found out that … Read More

via pacificlectic : pacific northwest concert reviews & eclectic music news

New Ben Folds Five song “House”

23rd Aug 11 (Tue) 2 comments

Ben Folds Five will go down in history as one of the bands that actually looked like they were having fun on stage.  When they broke-up in the Fall of 2000, a bit of happiness died.  Ben went on to do a lot of solo work (some Five-ish, some not), bassist Robert has stayed active in the NC music scene, and drummer Darren has put out a few gorgeous records with his band Hotel Lights (where he sings and plays guitar).  In fact, I just found out that Hotel Lights put out a new one last week (Girl Graffiti).

Well, with Mr Folds’ upcoming retrospective 3-CD boxset, The Best Imitation of Myself (due out October 11, 2011), Ben Folds Five got back in the studio and recorded a new tune entitled “House.”  Two other new BFF songs are on the collection: “Tell Me What I Did” and “Stumblin’ Home Winter Blues.” No word on if any more new BFF, but anything coming out of an 11-year gap is good news to me.

You can stream the new song at NBC’s The Sing-Off page.  You can pre-order the retrospective at the Amazons.  No word on a digital / mp3 download version of the retrospective yet, but I’m sure it’ll be out there on iTunes and Amazon soon enough.

~Dan – np: Xenuphobe (Wally Farkas & Ty Tabor) – 2.0 electrolux

recent spins

30th Sep 08 (Tue) 2 comments

9 recent releases in random order…

Medeski Martin & WoodZaebos :: MMW had a song on 2003’s Unknown Masada compilation.  That compilation is what I see to be the basis for the whole Masada Book Two set-up (other bands playing Zorn’s new Masada tunes).  MMW don’t disappoint on the full-album workings of Masada tunes.  While I think I like Secret Chiefs 3’s Xaphan and the Bar Kokhba Sextet’s Lucifer better from this year’s Masada Book Two crop, Zaebos does rocketh much.  MMW also has something like 3 more CDs coming out this year… the 1st one due out today (Radiolarians 1) – – and I hope to pick it up at their Eugene gig in mid-November.  I am curious about the sales numbers for Zaebos, as I think this is one of Tzadik’s more “mainstream artist” releases (very relatively speaking).

Ani DiFrancoRed Letter Year :: Glow in the dark moon on the front… nice.  I also dig the chunky guitars in “Alla This,” a fav of mine from her concerts the past two years or so (recent review HERE).  More band oriented, as well as a return to some horns on a few songs… a good move for Ani, IMO.  I’ve only made it through the CD twice so far, but it doesn’t seem to have any filler.  It’s good to hear the formerly only live tunes done up right in the studio.  For a more in-depth review, check out my friend ZSS’s 8th Notes blog HERE.

SF Jazz CollectiveLive 2008 :: SF Jazz Collective 2008 features Dave Douglas, Joe Lovano, new MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón, and many other great modern jazz talents.  The 2008 SF Jazz Collective features original compositions and compositions by Wayne Shorter.  Originally planned as a 2-CD set to come out in July, it ended up being a 3-CD set getting bumped back to late Sept/early Oct.  It was worth the wait… this is 3 hours of solid new jazz music and solid arrangements of Wayne Shorter’s classics.  Favorites from each CD: “Aurora Borealis,” “Secrets of the Code,” and “Aung San Suu Kyi.”

Mitch HedbergDo You Believe in Gosh? :: A good remembrance of one of the funniest guys who used to like to stay at the hotel with the two trees.  It’s only around 40 minutes, but it doesn’t contain many misses or duplicates from his prior offerings.  Short, but sweet.

Hotel LightsFirecracker People :: Darren Jesse (former drummer of Ben Folds Five) wrote one of the best songs on BFF’s final record (“Magic” from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner).  In Hotel Lights, he takes up the guitar, piano, and songwriting torch and delivers from indie pop brilliance.  Much mellower than BFF material, but in line with the aforementioned “Magic.”  This is the Hotel Lights 3rd release… they’re on the indie Bar-None Records.  Support indie music.

George CarlinIt’s Bad For Ya :: While he is missed, his legacy lives on.  Brutally honest, or funny, or both.  He pulls no punches, even at 70 years young.

The Tiptons Sax QuartetLaws of Motion :: Yay, the Tiptons are coming back to Eugene in December.  I got into them late last year, right after they played here.  Four sax players, drums, and some great jazz meets world songs.  They are based in Seattle… and I think Amy Denio has ties to the Monktail Creative Music Concern and/or Eyvind Kang.  Anyway, the Tiptons are in good company.  Their Tsunami CD from 2007 made a late entry into my instrumental favs of the year.  Laws of Motion has a great shot for this year as well.  Indie music alert… support indie music.  Check ’em out on CD Baby.

Ben FoldsWay To Normal :: While I wish I could have made it to the Ben Folds Five “Reinhold Messner” reunion show (sponsored by MySpace), I wish Ben Folds Five would just reunite for good.  Alas, I suppose two albums by BFF alums in a span on one month isn’t so bad either (see Hotel Lights above). :)  While this album is slightly not as solid as recent Ben Folds solo outings (or perhaps he’s just predictable for me nowadays), it’s still a good album.  Maybe the super special edition b-sides from the overpriced special boxset fill the album in better.  I wasn’t up for paying that kind of coin, though… I’m sure they’ll surface somewhere.

Yoshie Fruchter – Pitom :: One of the more “rock band” efforts in Tzadik’s “Radical Jewish Culture” series.  Along with Zakarya & Jon Madof’s Rashanim, this is a welcome addition to the fold.  Great guitars and great violin & viola as well.  Grounded in Jewish music, yet soaring riffs.  I’m looking forward to hearing more and more from this great band.

~Dan – np: Ani DifrancoRed Letter Year

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