Ben Folds came along at the right time. Rock doesn’t churn out a great many powerhouse piano men, and the smart, feisty music he made with the Ben Folds Five was a fine complement to ’90s alternative rock. Folds was as sneering and snarky as his guitar-toting counterparts, but by banging on the ivories he was actually an alternative to the alternative. Such a sound — and the occasional enjoyably gimmicky gangsta rap cover — might’ve been an easy route to one-hit-wonderdom (with “Brick”), but Folds has been savvy about cultivating a dedicated legion through touring and a steady stream of EPs that drop around albums. His latest is last year’s Way to Normal, and in fan-friendly fashion, he offered fan club members a bonus version of the CD, with files that could be remixed.
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