hi-bnl-2013

You Could Like: Barenaked Ladies

On Saturday July 20, I ‘ll be meeting up with Popdose colleague and Platters That Matter cohort Chris Holmes to see Ben Folds Five. It will be at the storied PNC Arts Center, once the Garden State Arts Center (don’t get me started on that). The BF5 are part of a package tour toplined by Canada’s Barenaked Ladies called Last Tour On Earth. The band Guster will also be there.

Let me say up front that I was not, as of maybe one year ago, the best person to write a “You Could Like” column about Barenaked Ladies. The best candidate would have been Mellowmas survivor Jason Hare, a longtime fan and defender of the Nekkids. I, on the other hand, owned the album Maroon for about one white-hot minute before I turned it back around on Half.com. The theme song to The Big Bang Theory makes me violent, or at the least, uncomfortably gastric. When Steven Page left the group, I don’t think I could have cared less.

8148447

Then I gave them a second chance. The gateway was this very concert I’m poised to attend. What a waste of time it would have been to go if I couldn’t find anything to appreciate by the group. So I bought some used discs, one of which was Maroon again. And I’m pleased to announce that I’ve gotten over my hostilities and truly enjoy the group’s music…except for “One Week.” I’ll never be able to listen to that song without my eyeballs scraping sparks in their sockets from all the rolling.

Strangely, one of the songs that I’ve appreciated the most is “Another Postcard” from the vastly underrated Everything To Everyone disc. Again, there’s Ed Robertson doing the freestyle thing in mostly nonsensical fashion, but at the core the song feels more like a “kindie” track. The group would later record a full effort of kids-ish songs, so I consider the tune a sort of dry run for that. The rest of Everything To Everyone has plenty of good songs and indelible moments to commend it. “War On Drugs” is a ridiculously powerful song that defies the band’s long-assumed goofiness.

The group’s second post-Page album — and I’m afraid that tagline is going to get affixed to them for a long time to come — is called Grinning Streak. It is growing on me, but it was a slow mover. Now finding himself as the true frontman, Ed Robertson is intent on proving Barenaked Ladies is a serious effort, in full defiance of the reputation they had previously. For the most part, it works.

Included here is a mix of the band’s tracks that got me over the hurdle, one of which is a cover of “Lovers In A Dangerous Time,” originally by all-around genius Bruce Cockburn. Enjoy, and feel free to let us know what your favorites are via the comments box below.

http://grooveshark.com/playlist/You+Could+Like+Barenaked+Ladies/88601905

 

Enhanced by Zemanta



  • http://www.jasonhare.com jasonhare

    Glad you’re coming around — I’ll be interested to see what you think of their live show.

  • John Gordon

    Their stuff from Gordon through Everything To Everyone was awesome. Then they put out a few “meh” records, then Page left. But Page’s solo record shows where the “witty darkness” of the songs went to. “War On Drugs” was totally a Page song…

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    Considering what went on precipitating his departure from the band, I wasn’t sure what to expect from “War On Drugs” based on the title. But that song is so emotional and has such a great “build” to it, it’s hard to refuse it.

  • http://www.popdose.com/ DwDunphy

    If it had been another disc — like Stunt or Maroon — I don’t know if I would have connected as well. Everything To Everyone is a great “gateway” type of album that gives both what you expect from them and what you didn’t think they were capable of. And “Keepin’ It Real” off the new album will, if they play it, go down a treat live.

  • Rock_dawg

    Hope you guys enjoy the show. I just saw this tour last week in Toronto and it was a great time. I too went primarily to see Ben Folds Five (despite having seen them last fall) but really enjoyed the Ladies performance since I hadn’t seen a full set from them since the early 90′s. Hopefully your audience is a little more receptive to the BF5: the crowd, likely just waiting for the home town heroes, spent most of Folds set talking amongst themselves and the dull murmur drowned out some of the quieter moments. It mainly proved to me that Folds is best enjoyed in a more intimate venue full of fans.

    I’ve been a Barenaked Ladies fan from early on (which in Canada means pre-Gordon) and have bought most of their releases. The lifeless, first Ed-led album was a big letdown, but Grinning Streak gives me a lot of hope for the future. Everything to Everyone is indeed underrated. Maroon is really solid and so is Are Me/Are Men. Both albums mostly skip the novelty type numbers, but still have plenty of catchy songs on them. Despite it’s bestseller status, I’ve never really cared for Stunt though: the hits are a little too cute (I wouldn’t mind if “One Week” went away for a little while) and the rest is pretty forgettable.

  • http://www.grayflannelsuit.net/ Chris Holmes

    I actually like quite a bit of Barenaked Ladies Are Me, which I’m guessing is hated by most fans given how things go for me.

  • http://sportsmyriad.com Beau

    I loved BNL all through the 90s. And it’s fitting that you’re seeing them with Guster. Seems like they’re always touring together, and I had a college roommate who worked with both bands. Tough to beat that double bill.

    But I lost track of them through the “Barenaked Ladies Are Me/n” saga, and I had a bad feeling Page’s departure would be the end. Page and Robertson had such a unique chemistry. Page has a voice built for Broadway. Robertson has a neat percussive guitar style. And they, along with drummer Tyler Stewart, could easily do a few episodes of “Whose Line Is It Anyway” on their own. (Maybe they could join Colin Mochrie for the all-Canadian version.) We got their kids’ album, “Snacktime,” which is a lot of fun — and apparently the last studio effort with Page.

    I did have one sighting of the band. I was in Whistler, covering the 2010 Olympics. They had daily concerts in one of the town squares. As I walked through one day, I thought, “Hmmm … this sounds like a Barenaked Ladies cover band. And they’re pretty good.” Finally got a peek at the stage — and there’s Ed Robertson! Yes, it was BNL — and they had a solid sound even without Page. Kevin Hearn is an all-star utility man, and Jim Creegan can keep a lot of songs going.

    I hadn’t even realize they had a new album out. “Keepin’ It Real” sounds good enough for me to take a closer listen.

  • Matt

    You can’t go wrong with adding “Maybe You Should Drive” and “Gordon” to your collection. “Maybe You Should Drive” was quite a jarring (in a good way) follow-up to Gordon at the time that it came out. It really showed how far the band had come and developed, in my opinion…