Mark M. (bvilleborn) from NASHVILLE, TN Reviewed on 8/7/2006...
Best studio effort for what is though of as a "live band".
Best since Rift!
Nathan Coblentz | North Carolina | 05/18/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"While this album is definately "song phish" as opposed to "live phish," this may be their best "song" album to date. After playing epic (or mind numbing, depending on your perspective) 10 to 20-something minute long versions of songs like "sand," "piper," or "gotta jiboo," it is pretty amazing to me that the band managed to break them down into bite-sized gems that can accomodate the attention span of my 10-year-old, boy band loving little sister. While most people complain that the rest of the band just stepped back and let Trey take the reins, I could care less; the songs speak for themselves. "Farmhouse" and "Bug" have a singer-songwriter quality to them that few other phish songs have achieved. "back on the train" is a look back to the summer '99 shows; "Heavy Things" is blissfully sugar sweet, yet equally satisfying. The subtle horn arrangements are perfect for a grooving "Gotta Jibboo," and the string-enhanced "Dirt" reminds us of "fast enough for you" or "if I could." The acoustic "sleep" and "josie wales" are delicate and sweet, and they manage to set off the dynamic "sand" and "first tube" from the rest of the album. "first tube" and "piper" sound so live that, as with junta or lawn boy, you may forget you're listening to a studio album.While my favorite thing about phish will always be Trey's epic but intricate compositions like "guyute," "divided sky," "david bowie," "yem," etc, this album will be remembered in my mind as the one where phish finally managed write a cohesive album based not on extensive jams or compositions, but on songs."
A fun disc! Adds another dimension to multi-faceted group.
jovaldo | 05/19/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This disc continues in the studio tradition of "Billy Breathes" & "Story of the Ghost." The songs are short (longest one at about six minutes), there is an irresistable pop hook, and the band shows that they're more versatile than just monster grooves in concert. I think its nice to have two totally different aspects of the same band: 1] Amazing live band that does incredible improv (and thankfully releases splendid live albums) & 2] Band that is beginning to mature in the studio. I like the shorter studio stuff on recordings. Studio jams get old after a while, plus its nice to have a disc where you can finish 4 or 5 songs while driving to work!My first reaction when I head "Farmhouse" was that I couldn't believe how pop-ish it sounded. But I think we have to realize that pop-ish for Phish is quite different than the pop market in general. And even if it does crossover, is that so bad? (This argument has been going on since "Hoist" and if you notice they're still not on the radio, MTV, etc.) If a band is great, then people are going to find out! Something as great Phish can't be a secret forever."Bug," "Dirt," "Heavy Things," & "Twist" are catchy, but good (the two can co-exist...even Frank Zappa had catchy songs.) "Gotta Jiboo" captures a lot of the old-school Phish silliness (always a plus)...and "Piper," "Sand," & "First Tube" just have the groove! I like the looping effects they use too, its nice to see those outside of the concert stage (I've seen Phish over 20 times since the early 90's for those of you that are wondering.) Its not the greatest Phish album ever (which is tie amongst the following: "Rift," "Billy Breathes," & "Lawnboy"), but it does have an incredibly varied group of well crafted songs. I commend Phish for their studio efforts!"
Farmhouse and the Evolution of Simplicity
Richard Ivy | Baltimore, MD | 05/17/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Phish is a band that evolves even as you are listening to their recordings. In recent years they have justifiably earned a reputation as a band with two identities-studio Phish and live Phish. While "Farmhouse" is not as daring as "The Story of the Ghost" in its song-writing approach and recording style, it does maintain its continuity as a rock album, a quality that, with the advent of MP3s and CDR compilations, could become a thing of the past. There is a unity to "Farmhouse" that is both invititing and inspiring. The laid back feel of the first half successfully conveys the feeling of a band hanging out and recording an album in a Vermont farmhouse, as Anastasio (in a recent interview) said he hoped it would. It is marred only by the inclusion of Piper, a song that, in my humble opinion, deserves a more creative studio approach than the band has here given it. The album takes an interesting twist after the gorgeous Inlaw Josie Wales that could be a taste of things to come. The futuristic "cyber-funk" of Sand and First Tube are closer to some of the musical explorations of Phish's recent live performances. If you're listening in your car, imagine, as you listen to First Tube, you're an android being chased by one of the cops in Blade Runner and the picture is complete.As the band continues to evolve, I think it is important to keep in mind that their decision to not compose fugues and songs with the orchestrated complexity of Junta is admirable. We all know that they are capable of it. What is challenging to Phish now is writing songs with a Zen like simplicty. Songs that have a subtle richness and textured beauty that offer listeners something new with every listen. Listen to the album and then go back and take it apart instrument by instrument and you will find complexity that rivals the fugues of Junta."
Best Phish Album
A. Barrow | 10/14/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you buy only one Phish album let this one be it. Don't listen to the fact that pretentious Phish fans don't like this album because it is accessible to the layman. Its mood is mellow, but optimistic, perfect for listening to on a down day."