Review: The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind by Ben Folds Five

I really don’t want to write this review. I was REALLY sad when, in 2000, Ben Folds Five folded. I’d been listening since they signed to Caroline Records in the UK  back in 1995. I LOVE piano pop and there are few better than Ben Folds with his ear for a killer melody and brain for a wonderful lyric.  Ben went solo, released some great albums (and Fear of pop), but – and I know I maybe i’m on my own on this – he went off the boil.

“Way to normal” was when the rot set in for me.  Before Cologne was lovely, but on the whole it just felt like he phoned it in.

The a capella album “Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella” could have been great. There were tonnes of things submitted on YouTube and some were good, but the album? Pffff.. Just didn’t work at all for me.  The production seemed to be greatly lacking.

A collaboration with writer Nick Hornby. A match in heaven. It should have been, oh it should have been. But for me? No.

Then – and then.  After thirteen years of waiting.  A NEW Ben Folds album.  Along with thousands of others I signed up to PledgeMusic to help get it made.  Eventually (in advance of the CD copies being sent out) a link to download it.  I was literally scared to listen.  It had been such a long, long wait and the weight of expectation hung heavily on me.

The opening seconds marked it out as the recognisable Ben Folds Five sound which has been pointed out is as much about Robert Sledge’s bass as Fold’s piano.

I have never wanted an album to work as much as this one.  It was just washing over me and absolutely nothing was sticking.  I listened twice and bar the Boxing-esque waltz of the final track I wouldn’t be able to hum any of melody lines, quote any of the lyrics.  I am heartbroken.

I’m going to carry on listening and listening because I NEED this album to work.

In Ben’s song One Down he said:

People tell me
Ben, just make up junk
And turn it in
But I never was alright with turning in
A bunch of shit
Don’t like wasting time
On music that won’t make you proud
But now I’ve found a reason
To sit right down and shit some out

Oh Ben, say it ain’t so.

This was the review I didn’t want to write.

The Anti-Puff Piece

Hey people. Here are some reviews… I really hope they aren’t too harsh. Sometimes I can get a tad judgmental, I just want everybody to be the best they can be! Anyway, have a great time listening to music no matter what!

Winterpills – All My Lovely Goners – I really liked the last EP by this band, but I think I need this band in smaller doses. While the songs are quite beautiful and haunting, they are a bit too stark and a bit morose.

Edward Guglielmino & The Show – Sunshine State – I like basically one song by this dude. This album offers nothing much better.

The Walkmen – Heaven – this band always sounds pretty much the same. I commend them for finding a formula and sticking with it, but I’m not sure I can stand another album of rhythmic songs sung disinterestedly.

Sara Bareilles – Once Upon Another Time – I’m not really familiar with Sara Bareilles apart from the love song, but this was produced by Ben Folds, so I checked it out. The only stamp from Folds is left on a break up song with lots of swearing (who knew Ben Folds could do that??), otherwise pretty bland piano music.

Jon McLaughlin – Promising Promises – Pretty standard major label singer-songwriter stuff. Some good catchy songs, and well produced, but I don’t really feel any major artistic stamp or ownership.

Awesome Band Alert – Mike Lombardo

Album Cover for Mike Lombardo's Songs For A New DayIn what has become a monthly series of featured artists on the blog, I present to you now a great artist, Mike Lombardo. His new album “Songs For A New Day” came out earlier this month, and has been brightening my world up lately. If you love piano pop as much as I do, this is a must-listen! He stands up alongside some of my favorite piano pop groups, such as Ben Folds, The Argument, and Paul Otten.

Mike Lombardo playing piano and singing“Songs For A New Day” is filled with all sorts of songs, happy songs, hopeful songs, contemplative songs, sad songs, songs for any mood. Some highlights are the lead-off track That Will Be The Day, I’m Right Here and Hey Molly. He writes great songs, and they are well produced on this album, which features piano, bass and drums. A few songs even add some horns, which is a nice touch.

Fordham Sessions coverYou may remember I reviewed Lombardo’s first album, “The Fordham Sessions” on this blog about a year ago. I mention that because as a bonus, when you buy the new CD, you get a version of that album as well! He has re-recorded all the songs, and they sound even better. So what better way to get acquainted with all of Mike Lombardo’s music? It is great.

Mike Lombardo is a awesome new talent, and I think we will hear a lot more from him into the future. Check out the album now. You can stream songs on his BandCamp page here: You can buy the 2-disc set here:

Summer is calling

OK, so here we are, in possibly the nicest week of the year, not too cold, not too hot, and what am I doing, sitting at work all day. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like working most of the time, but when it’s so nice out, it makes it that more miserable. So, instead I try to forget it’s nice out, and just get through it. But, hope arrives this weekend with a three day weekend, what are your plans for the holiday? I’m gonna try to get some sleep and fun in the sun. Oh, and I might have some familial visitors! Cool beans! Reviews, then?

Ben Folds Presents: University A Capella – ***1/2 – Continue reading

A conversation with… Corn Mo

Corn Mo in Bristol, England - July 2008Welcome; John Cunningham aka ‘Corn Mo’.

Q/ Morning. How’s it going?


Q/ I was doing – what I laughingly like to call – research. Now the internet is quite a big place and perhaps I was poking around in the wrong corner but it’s quite hard to find a huge amount of information on you. Are you carefully maintaining the persona of an enigmatic master of songs?

No. I’m just not that popular. It would be brilliant if it were true.
Continue reading