For more than a year, some of my friends and former coworkers have been sharing music. The idea is that we’re supposed to review/rate what’s shared with us, then share those reviews with the group, but that doesn’t always happen.
Ben Folds – Rockin’ the Suburbs (2001)
I’m sure that Ben himself wouldn’t really care at all about this, but I used to listen to more of Ben Folds Five and his solo stuff. I don’t now because I feel like he casually swears quite a bit. It would be one thing if there was some emotion behind it (at least I could credit him with passion), but it seems like he does it because he can – because he’s not in junior high any more – which I don’t really care for.
I don’t know. Maybe I was overly sensitive as a teenage. This album isn’t that bad, but my general impression of him is that he’s just kind of flippant about his language. Moving on…
Picking out the highlights of this album is hard, because it’s all really good; mostly due to Ben’s exceptional piano playing. I guess I’ll just start at the top.
I really like Annie Waits. It’s good and simple. I remember the day one of my friends actually had this CD in their rusted out Ford Bronco and I finally realized it wasn’t “and he waits.” Gone is really good too. Maybe it’s just the different feel the 6/8 time brings to it, but I feel like on any other album it would be a highlight. Here it’s just run of the mill. Same with Losing Lisa. The chorus is especially good on Ascent of Stan. The bridge is good too, but it doesn’t fit the big feel of the chorus. Well, the last chorus doesn’t seem to fit either. Not the Same was not a song I remembered hearing before, which I feel like I should. It’s a good kind of weird. Spencer might not like the title track, but I think it’s great. Mostly because I think it’s funny.
But I think my favorite might Still Fighting It. It starts a little melancholy and ballad-y, but then it builds so well. And there’s a little nostalgia factor in there, too.
The one song I didn’t actually care for was Fred Jones, Pt. 2. The lyrics were poignant and reminded me of when I got laid off my job. I loved the strings and Jon McCrea (of Cake)’s harmonies. But for some reason, you put it all together and … I don’t love it. It was alright, but it was the biggest disappointment of the album for me. Maybe just because it could have been so much better.
Still, I’m giving this a 4/5
Powderfinger – Odyssey Number Five (2000)
Like Chris, I first heard of these guys from the Mission Impossible II soundtrack, although that’s all I had heard from them until now. My Kind of Scene didn’t really stand out on the soundtrack. And it doesn’t really stand out on this album either.
The highlights of the album for me were things like Like a Dog. I loved the kinda psychedelic feel of the first minute or so. The pre-chorus wasn’t great, but the chorus started to bring it back. Up and Down and Back Again was alright, but I felt like the lead guitar work was really good. Maybe the whole album is this way, but I specifically feel like Up and Down and Back Again is understated, like they’re trying not to get too complicated so they can focus on doing “simple” really well. These Days was also pretty good. It started as just another song, but it built itself up and I thought it was the perfect way to end the album, only to find it wasn’t the end. The remaining tracks were fine, maybe even better than much of what came earlier, but I don’t really have anything specific to say.
This album was good. It was a solid late ’90s/early ’00 alt. rock album. And that’s most of what I have to say. 3/5
Dan Wilson – Free Life (2007)
I remembered this album when we did the “something newish you want to listen to but haven’t yet” week. The problem is that I’ve loved this album for a few years now.
This is the debut solo album from the lead singer/songwriter from Semisonic, about 8 years after Closing Time. I don’t know the exact timeline, but he has since worked with artists like John Legend, The Secret Sisters, KT Tunstall, Weezer, Adele, and the Dixie Chicks, helping them write and produce Grammy-winning albums. This album is late 2000s alternative pop rock goodness.
If my friends tell me what they thought about Dan Wilson, I’ll post that here. In the meantime, share your thoughts about any of these albums in the comments below.