Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Way to Normal
Genres: Alternative Rock, Folk, Pop, Rock
Explicit version of Ben Folds' 2008 album Way to Normal. Ben Folds is best known as a solo artist and as the front-man pianist of Ben Folds Five. He is celebrated for a sound that bridges the worlds of Jazz and Power Rock.... more »
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Explicit version of Ben Folds' 2008 album Way to Normal. Ben Folds is best known as a solo artist and as the front-man pianist of Ben Folds Five. He is celebrated for a sound that bridges the worlds of Jazz and Power Rock. Consistently touring, Ben Folds has earned a reputation for his wit, musicality, and energetic live shows. With songs like 'Hiroshima' (which recounts his falling of the stage and hitting his head in Japan), Folds has proven to be a story-teller for the piano-rock generation. Way To Normal is the first full length release since Songs for Silverman, a very honest look at the last few years of Folds' life. Folds collaborated with Dennis Herring (Counting Crows, Modest Mouse, Elvis Costello) and the track 'You Don't Know Me' features a duet with indie songstress, Regina Spektor.
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Way to Normal
T. Snyder | AZ | 10/04/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Much like everyone else it seems, we've all been fans of Ben Folds since he was Ben Folds Five. So he clearly has a very devoted following of people like me who will buy anything he puts out on day one.
So I have listened to 'Way to Normal' four times now. After the first time, I thought, "This is really uneven and kind of disappointing". Usually I'm hooked after one listen.
There are some really stupid, childish lyrics on the album - 'Errant Dog' comes to mind right away and the "f'ing a Guru" in 'The Frown Song'. Those lyrics made me cringe and feel really old. And then there's the really lame woman-leaves-man/ man-leaves-woman joke that leads into "B*&ch Went Nuts" with its David Carradine Kung Fu delivery. Maybe today's teenagers might find this stuff funny, but I did not.
Also, there are a few songs with a weird sounding/fuzzy piano/keyboard in the background that sounds very out-of-place on a Ben Folds album (It almost sounds like Dr. Dre could have made those sounds).
Now despite those negatives, there are still a bunch of really good songs on here that make me remember why Ben Folds is one of my favorite artists. He's a great pop-song writer. He's one of the few artists today to really feature the piano (he makes me wish I could play). "Cologne" is such a powerful, personal song and probably the best song on the album. "B&*ch Went Nuts", "Brainwascht" and "Effington" are fun and fast-paced. "Kylie from Connecticut" was classic piano-man. I only wish the entire album lived up to those songs. Overall, a really uneven release..."
Overcooked and Underthought
Robert Paulson | Bethesda, MD | 10/03/2008
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Where do I start? I've been a fan for the past 11 years. So far, SONGS FOR SILVERMAN is the only Ben Folds solo album that I've been able to fully get behind. While ROCKIN' THE SUBURBS and his three EP's have some shining moments, they bring incinsistency, as well. Unfortunately, WAY TO NORMAL carries that trend and not the mature growth exhibited on SFS.
The album opens with "Hiroshima," which is an obvious take on "Benny & the Jets" that crosses the border into 'ripoff' territory. "The Frown Song" carries the rhythm of RTS highlight, "Losing Lisa" except with bad singing and silly social commentary.
The low-lights keep coming, although the Regina Spektor duet is cutesy and so it gets a pass. "Cologne" is where I think Ben starts to get a bit more mature, but with a chorus like, '4-3-2-1 I'm letting you go,' I realize at this point there's no going back; Ben Folds has made a genuinely bad album.
Even worse was his decision to work with producer Dennis Herring who auto-tunes the hell out of Folds' voice, giving it that shrinkwrapped, plastic feel that only Cher and J-Lo could appreciate. The songs tend to be overloud with no real dynamic ("Dr. Yang"), the bass - instead of that quasi Ben Folds Five fuzzbass - is turned waaaaaaaaaaaay up and sounds like a muddy mess of distortion.
The only redeemer is "Errant Dog" whose music is on par with the best stuff Folds has ever written. The lyrics are a different story completely.
In the end, it seems like Folds is TRYING to make a "fun" album as retaliation to the poor fan-reception given to SFS. Unfortunately we only get out of things as much as we put into them and WAY TO NORMAL is turd polishing all the way. If Folds had brought some better songs, or worked with a better producer (what happened to self-producing, or working with Caleb Southern?) maybe this collection could have been saved. Skip it and - if you're still on board - hope that in three years from now (when the next album drops) Folds will have rediscovered what made him a great songwriter and decide to share it with us."
Rocks in a way only Ben Folds can rock.
Kyle Genther | WA USA | 09/30/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"From the head-banging intro of "Hiroshima" (pun intended) to the symphonic sounds of "Cologne" and the electronic, synthetic experimentations of "Free Coffee", this may be Ben Folds most diverse album since The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner and with arguably more standouts.
I had the pleasure of hearing "Hiroshima (B B B Benny Hit His Head)" at Gonzaga's McCarthey Athletic Center when Ben was in town and thought it rocked then and it still rocks now, in a way only Ben Folds can rock. In terms of piano parts, I think this album most closely resembles his last endeavor Songs for Silverman but perhaps with more major chords and less syncopation (but I'll have to see the sheet music when it comes out to be sure). There's also a generally faster tempo to most of the songs which may make it more immediately likeable, but could also wear down its welcome sooner (it's still too early to tell, but a couple songs remind me of Speed Graphic's hyperactive "Dog", including the conspicuous "Errant Dog"). If you're anything like me, upbeat songs are more appealing immediately, but ballads grow on me over time, so my favorite songs from Songs for Silverman now are "Time, "Prison Food" and "You to Thank" (not really a ballad I know).
By all accounts, this is an engaging and impressive album from one of the most impressive musicians around. You can't deny he's got piano chops (maybe the best in the business) and he gets to show off a little (not like "Bastard" or "Philosophy" going way back...), but if you ever hear him in concert you know he's still got it. And though some may feel his lyrics leave something to be desired (my wife included) his songwriting is as fresh and original as ever with standouts "You Don't Know Me", "Effington" and "Cologne" (by the way, if you get the chance to listen to the "Piano Orchestra Version" of "Cologne", do; it's fantastic)."