What am I listening to? Ben Folds Five, Yo La Tengo, Andrew McMahon


A reissue was announced for Ben Folds Five‘s Whatever and Ever Amen. This album, released in 1997, and became a college rock classic.  It is a rare type of album. There are piano driven melodies. There are woo-woos and sing-along choruses. There is a healthy dose of cursing and bitterness. There is a cast of quirky characters with odd personalities and habits. There is even that song about abortion (that everyone thought was about something a little less controversial).


As I revisited this album, I was instantly re-charmed by the songs. Who wouldn’t want to be friends with Kate, the drum-playing, mix-tape making, pot smoking tornado of a lady. With unique break up songs like “Battle of Who Could Care Less” and “Song for the Dumped,” it is easy to see why this album is still relevant and worthy of a vinyl reissue.



As it is Fall, I dove into Yo La Tengo‘s discography and listened Summer Skin quite a few times. YLT released a lot of albums but I am always drawn to this one for quiet Georgia songs like “Little Eyes” and “Today is the Day.” “Georgia vs. Yo La Tengo” is a weird 4 minute long jam session with piano, distortion, and drums.

“Season of the Shark” will always be one of my favorite sort-of romantic songs. It contains lyrical themes of security and companionship. Ira sings, “I want to be/ The one to make you feel okay right now/ Some way, some how.” There is the typical YLT-y ting of uncertainty followed by hope all wrapped up in a perfectly fall slow and deliberate melody. I can image the sweaters and mittens already.

 



As far as new releases, Andrew McMahon (Something Corporate, Jack’s Mannequin) released an album under the moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. It is nice to see McMahon has not changed much. He still tells stories well and composes piano-driven ballads. He honors his friends and loved ones. And he does it all with a certain degree of care and hope.

McMahon was always great at writing extended metaphors. “Cecilia and the Satellite” was one of those songs with imagery of the sky and satellites, with a bit of that trendy “woah-hoh” between choruses. It gets emotional with the lyrics “From all the things my eyes have seen/the best by far is you.” He also mentions touring with his punk rock band (assuming this is Something Corporate) and traveling to London and Amsterdam. Its an adorable love.

“Halls” seems to be a history of touring and the emotional baggage that comes with a road-life. “High Dive” made me feel like a high schooler again.  “Driving Through a Dream” was also a stand-out track. “Black and White Movies” and “Canyon Moon” got a little bit mainstream poppy. But overall, the album is an extension of McMahon’s signature sound and there are parts to cherish.

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