My picks for the Top-5 songs played by WBER in 2012 , as whittled down from this pool of songs. If interested, you can view my selection process at this Google Doc. (131 songs down to 22, down to 11, down to 6, down to 5.)
Not a great year overall - far too many synthesizers and drum machines and whiny boys trying to sing like girls. There’s a place for all of that, but now that it’s become mainstream I no longer wish to hear any of it. It’s everywhere and it’s killing me. Thankfully there were some old faithfuls to fall back on.
- The Shins - Simple Song (listen on spotify)
#1 with a bullet. Never a doubt in my mind about this one. The album as a whole was slightly disappointing, but this song is perfect - particularly the melodies.
- Ben Folds Five - Do It Anyway (listen on spotify)
Strip away everything other than Ben’s piano performance and this would still be good enough for #2. Add everything else back in and there was no competition. The 10+ year hiatus didn’t diminish the incredible chemistry that these three guys share.
- Soulsavers - Take Me Back Home (listen on spotify)
Wow. Well, this one sorta snuck up on me. That’s about all I can say. Beautiful song.
- The Tragically Hip - At Transformation (listen on spotify)
I’d be remiss if I didn’t include at least one song in my top 5 that truly rocks… and it came from a somewhat unlikely source. Thanks, Canada!
- Feist - The Bad In Each Other (listen on spotify)
Her voice just hits me right where it counts, and the production on this song is mesmerizing.
Ben Folds Five - Narcolepsy - Live @ Mountain Jam - June 2, 2012 (by Pianobrad)
Excluding their one-off show back in 2008, this is the first Ben Folds Five performance since 2000. A YouTuber has uploaded the entire set.
It’s obvious to me that they made the right decision by recording their new album before heading out on tour, because the time they spent together in the studio has clearly paid off. The chemistry that made this band so special is definitely back and this performance is not the least bit disappointing.
Their three previous albums are all among my all-time favorites, and as great as those albums are, I’ve always considered Ben Folds Five to be more of a live-band; their improv chops are just too good to be captured in the studio. Case-in-point: the breakdown that begins at roughly the 4:28 mark of this video. Click here to jump right to it. It gave me chills. Repeatedly. A lot of bands have done some sort of mix of rock and jazz, but no band has ever done it so effortlessly, and this band is the only one that has ever given the rock side of the equation the amount of balls-out fury that it requires.
Reunion tours (and reunion albums) are almost universally terrible, and I’ll admit I had my doubts about this one - especially because they’re among my top-5 favorite bands - but this performance has raised my hopes. The album drops in September, followed by a full tour. Sign me up, I’m ready for more.
Ben Folds Five - Missing The War (Live - Sessions at West 54th) (by looper12xx)
I really need to get a piano back into my life.
Ben Folds Five - Philosophy (Live on Jools Holland) [1996?]
So yeah, this performance is fantastic and energetic and you can tell they were incredibly thrilled to be living their dream… but I think what I like most is the way the crew at LwJ essentially created a one-shot music video with great lighting, creative camera changes, and selective use of b&w. Very nicely done.