she's a fraggle rock and I'm drowning slowly
September 17, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

Aw lookit dem fraggles
posted by The Whelk at 8:49 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I miss the Five. Solo Ben was always too introspective and maudlin while BFF live shows were ridiculous, raucous and just plain fun. Song isn't great, but the last 20 seconds makes it worth it.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:56 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

Here's a behind-the-scenes clip.
posted by Optamystic at 9:19 AM on September 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yeah, when the guitar distortion/fuzz kicked in, I was like "oh, it really is the Five, and not just the Five backing Ben."

Plus, Fraggles.
posted by KingEdRa at 9:19 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ok I'm literally tearing up just seeing the Fraggles again. They haven't appeared in what, 20 years?

Fraggles mean a lot to me. Nothing so captures a bittersweet youthful wonder, a feeling of what the world was promised to be and what it could be if people could... I don't even know what. If they could be Fraggles.

I would always watch my old VHS tapes whenever home sick from school (still do occasionally to this day). I have a few songs on my ipod that are guaranteed to pick me up if I'm down. Notably Red singing "Chase The Wind". (Starts just before 4:00 if time embed don't work).
posted by yellowbinder at 9:29 AM on September 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

eyeballkid, hopefully you'll be as delighted as I was to hear that from tomorrow you'll need no longer miss the Five!
posted by wilberforce at 9:30 AM on September 17, 2012

Boy Gorg!
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 9:32 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I liked how well the song fit how I remembered *feeling* when watching Fraggle Rock.

The part that was hardest about this: Knowing we've lost Gobo.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:40 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

OMG, he looks just like Buddy Holly!

...and so I'm not only lazily netsnarking about the viralucrative puissance of the nostalgiacrank, here's a bonus fun/terrifying fact. It's 25 years since Fraggle Rock finished, but when Weezer made the Buddy Holly video it was a mere 10 years since the end of Happy Days. Or 20 since it began. The (Muppet) Fraggles are more out-of-date now than Fonzie & co. ever were. Well, I thought it was fun/terrifying.

Got to agree with eyeballkid above about the last 20 seconds of the video, but I also reckon the song's a grower.
posted by comealongpole at 9:51 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not the best song on the album by a long shot. I got my copy of it last week as I backed it on their PledgeMusic campaign. There's some great stuff on there—certainly better than the last couple of Ben Folds' solo albums. Yay new BFF!
posted by TheDonF at 9:53 AM on September 17, 2012

This is like the Weezer/Muppets video but the song is actually good!

It made me very happy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2012

I'd backed/pre-purchased the album a while ago but missed the email last week letting me know it had been released to backers. Thanks for the reminder, nostalgic music video!
posted by thecjm at 10:14 AM on September 17, 2012

Came in here to say what TheDonF said. There is a new album coming out tomorrow that pledging types already have!

Only had two listens of it thus far, but it feels (to me) more like a continuation of where they were headed with Reinhold Messner than the previous two albums. There's a lot less of the bitter and sarcastic and a lot more of the introspective, but there's still plenty of the borderline juvenile, like the chorus of "Draw a Crowd":

Oh-oh if you’re feeling small
And you can’t draw a crowd
Draw dicks on a wall

I liked it a lot more after my second listen, so I'm sure it's got plenty of room to grow on me. But man, it is so undeniably a BFF album, and I think that "Do It Anyway" captures this more than any other track. Darren's drumming and Robert's bass are so key to their sound, and something I missed desperately through all of Ben's solo releases, even when I enjoyed them.

They're also touring again! I saw them when they did a little mini tour earlier this summer. They only played older stuff (not sure if this was intended or came as a result of the show being shortened due to a thunder storm rolling in) but it was great to see them live (I never got a chance before they broke up.) Instrumentally, they were nearly perfect. Harmonies were a bit rough in places but I suspect that'll get smoothed out as they get used to play together again.
posted by SpiffyRob at 10:17 AM on September 17, 2012

Jesus my heart.

posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:34 AM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looking forward to the new album, actually. I'd heard they were recording again, had no idea that the album was dropping tomorrow. And the song is better the second time around.

Also, I now have the Lemonheads song "I'll Do it Anyway" stuck in my head just because I keep glancing at this song's title on the front page. Quick lazyweb, mash me up a little call-and-answer thing with "Do it anyway / I'll do it anyway."
posted by eyeballkid at 10:40 AM on September 17, 2012

This is pur smile inducing. Jooooooy.
posted by Faintdreams at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2012

i just kept waiting for the "new fraggles start next month!" announcement. sadly, there doesn't seem to be one...

(great post!)
posted by nadawi at 10:51 AM on September 17, 2012


Aside: Any time I watch Firefly, Wash totally reminds me of Wembley. Aw, Wembley!
posted by mochapickle at 10:58 AM on September 17, 2012 [9 favorites]

i just kept waiting for the "new fraggles start next month!" announcement. sadly, there doesn't seem to be one...

There was supposed to be a movie last year but it obviously never materialized. Latest development (and supposedly actually in production) is a Doozers CGI catoon series.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:18 AM on September 17, 2012

This was wonderful. We're seeing BF5 next week -- I hope they bring some Fraggles along!
posted by blurker at 11:53 AM on September 17, 2012

awwww I have no opinion on BFF but I'd sort of forgotten how TOTALLY AWESOME the fraggles are!!!!!!!!
posted by supermedusa at 12:05 PM on September 17, 2012

Watching Darren Jesse calmly playing drums like he's casually dealing from a well-worn deck of cards is kind of awesome, but I was wondering why him and Robert weren't in that end-of-video bit, because drums and bass on that would have been fab.

also could have used more fanny pack
posted by davejay at 12:14 PM on September 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The most recent episode of the nerdist podcast features Ben Folds talking about the new record / tour / this video, and features an interview at the end with Red!!
posted by lazaruslong at 12:29 PM on September 17, 2012

YellowBinder, I used to have the fraggles on beta. I was delighted to find that the seasons are streaming on netflix instant.
posted by pickinganameismuchharderthanihadanticipated at 1:22 PM on September 17, 2012

So, I'm watching the last 20 seconds of that video, and I'm thinking "C'mon, Rob Corddry's a little old to be that much of a Fraggle fan[1]". And that's when I discover that I am 4 years older than Rob Corddry.

[1] Wikipedia tells me that Fraggle Rock premiered in the US mere weeks before my 17th birthday
posted by hanov3r at 1:25 PM on September 17, 2012

I love the fraggles. I like Ben Folds. I bought season 1 of the fraggles on DVD so I could watch it with my kids.

I liked this video too, however I couldn't help but be annoyed that it totally ruined the illusion that fraggles are very small.
posted by MustardTent at 2:38 PM on September 17, 2012

What people don't realize is that Ben Folds is 3 feet, tops.
posted by yellowbinder at 2:42 PM on September 17, 2012 [6 favorites]

Aw yiss.
posted by nile_red at 3:15 PM on September 17, 2012

I suppose this is a good place to mention that it took me more than 25 years, until last week even, to learn that Traveling Matt was a pun.
posted by enkd at 3:59 PM on September 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

Can we have more things that are this awesome?

posted by flaterik at 5:47 PM on September 17, 2012

I sure do let Ben Folds get away with a lot of stuff that I would not accept from other musicians. As my girlfriend has pointed out, if he's faking the "earnest guy with a piano" aspect of his stage persona, he's done it so well for so long that it's hard not to extend him the benefit of the doubt.

And, yeah, this is pretty great.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 6:27 PM on September 17, 2012

I thought this was fantastic. BFF was a major part of my adolescence; it's really awesome to see them together again.

BFF is such an interesting group. They were in some ways the epoch of piano rock. They took the old-school jazz trio model and just drove it to an earnestly and actually rocking but not too annoyingly pomo self-aware but just sort of the right charming amount point. Few bands can be so hard rocking without a guitar. The piano is considered both a string and percussion instrument, the former being most often the dominant employment. But BF reminds us that is in part a drum. And the banging and swearing and complex rhythmic patterns and Drunk Gershwin Riff solos that BF has always showcased better with the group than with his (b/c in part overproduced) solo stuff was a compelling way to make up for the incredible balls you get out of the traditionally and increasingly hyper fuzzy electric guitar. And Robin meets him sort of halfway, with the bass taking on tenor melodic type stuff frequently to fill out the sound with the actually fuzzy bass (as opposed to a great many rock bands in the past 20 years that treat the bass as merely a bottom frequency). Darren never overplays, which would be easy in the intimate group they have, but still knows when to rock the heavy on the cymbals, giving it that extra umph when normally the second guitar might come in for the chorus.

The reason the piano is so commonly heard featured on not rock but adult rock tracks - or the ubiquitous hair band ballad - is because the piano is simply better suited for that. It is not idiomatically a rock instrument. But it can still be a beast, and it's always awesome when someone takes it to that place. BF is not the sort to play chords with sustained seconds or fourths four on the floor for 4 minutes straight.

I went to Interlochen in high school. One summer, Ben Folds came to play at the big outdoor auditorium there. The piano in the Kresge Auditorium at Interlochen is this cherry 11ft Steinway. Ben Folds, in the middle of his performance, stood on top of and jumped on this piano, on the lid. They asked him never to come back, and I liked him all the more.

You can't really play piano rock these days without owing some obvious debt to BFF - everyone from Fiona Apple to The National to most obviously Amanda Palmer.

And of course they are hilarious and charming, and so in case we weren't swooning just a little, they brought out Fraggle Rock, and left us no choice.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:36 PM on September 17, 2012 [4 favorites]

I saw them last night at the Ryman in Nashville. They were charming. I've seen Ben Folds (at Bonnaroo) but I am pretty sure he was solo that time (I was suffering from heatstroke so my memory of it is not too reliable). After the first song, Ben Folds had to stop to tape his fingers, which he had forgotten to do before the show (Ben Folds: "Living in Nashville has taught me to be professional."), and watching him furiously pound the keys you could see why it was necessary.

Also, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) and Kesha showed up to do a bang-on amazing version of "You're the Reason Our Kids Are Ugly."
posted by joannemerriam at 11:36 AM on September 18, 2012

It might be cheesy to say so, but this song has really done something for me. I deal with a lot of anxiety, and sometimes depression, and even when those demons are at their low ebb they inform basically everything I do, usually by shutting me down: I end up staying home, not trying new things, not doing the things that will actually make me feel better, because I listen to the negative voice in my head, and too often, I believe it. I heard this song the other day on WNYC's show Soundcheck, and it slid through my brain like a key into a lock. Every time I've been tempted to flop on the sofa, or to wallow, I hear these guys, so insistent, saying "Do It Anyway"— and I do things. I've bought groceries, cleaned my apartment, gone to a board game night, and taken a walk in the sunshine because of that refrain.

And now I get to have fraggles in my head, too, dancing along to my new mantra? I can't wait to see what I accomplish this week.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:49 PM on September 23, 2012 [2 favorites]

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