32 Songs: Tracks 9 & 10
Frontier Psychiatrist - The Avalanches & Underground - Ben Folds Five
I was in another world, a world of 20,000 girls,
I'm sure you don't remember me
And now it's been 10 years
I'm still wondering who to be
But I'd love to mix in circles, cliques, and social coteries - that's me
Only twice have I been prompted after a hearing a single song to go and pre-order an album. But Underground and Frontier Psychiatrist were both so unlike anything i had previously heard that i was quickly had an overwhealming sense that any full length album either group produced would more than live up to the stratespheric levels of the released singles. Within an hour of hearing the tracks i was on the phone or in the CD shop driving the poor shop assistant around the twist trying to find release dates.
DJs have been scratching and mixing tracks for years in the US but always in large chunks of things you recognise. The Avalanches take little pieces of stuff that you would never hear in your life and make something new and different. It is the nth degree of where things would go and they went there right at the start of the revolution. That's pretty fucking cool.
Frontier Psychiatrist made me rethink what I defined as music and I still remember the first time I heard it. Travelling towards the roundabout at the top of Commonwealth Bridge in my car. I did a complete loop around the roundabout and headed into town to track down anything by the group at Impact Records.
The same can also be said for Underground by Ben Folds Five. I was on a bus and listening to it on my walkman. All piano, all bass, all drums, all different. How can you not love a song that starts with the sound of breaking glass? I signed up immediately. The song took the piss out of alternative which was just what the world needed.
Conincidently the Ben Folds Five concert at the ANU in Canberra in the spring of 1997 seems to have been one of those strange quirky nights that was a focal point for many people that i know. Relationships started, relationships ended, one night stands were had and people who would have future relationships were there but wouldn't meet for many more years.
I felt sorry for Ben Folds Five as they were quickly typecast as the "no-guitar band" which left them very little room to move. Thank Christ Ben Folds is such a good songwriter and was able to rise above it all, though he hasn’t got the credit he deserves. He ain't Neil Finn, but he certainly is worth noting. The hype behind the track Brick on their second album has always confused me and seemingly him as well. It always seemed to be a song about dealing with drug addiction to me and I read press saying it was about an abortion. I've never heard any of the band say anything about it but it always seemed a very depressing song for it to go to the top 10 in so many countries.
I also felt sorry for myself because after securing a copy of the album on import from the US, it took four weeks from order to delivery, it got local release two weeks later. Oh well, I managed to feel better when many years later he moved into a house in Adelaide down the hill from where I was living. We used to nod as we walked past one another and I'm quiet proud of the fact that I never grabbed him around the throat and yelled at him for not releasing their first album in Australia sooner and saving me 15 bucks. I'm sure he is too.