Rediscover: Seth Timbs and Fluid Ounces (Part 1)

I’ve been a fan of Seth Timbs for many years, as he started in the late 90’s with the band Fluid Ounces. Fl Oz. combined the popular jangle rock of the time with a distinctive piano lead, but unlike Ben Folds the expressive chords didn’t feel like a malicious outburst. It was more playful with a deep understanding of what dramatic verse and a chord progression could do. My favorite on that first album Big Notebook For Easy Piano was “Big Empty,” a slow shambling dirge in minor chords with a dissonant piano bridge to a dramatic chorus.

Earlier in his career Seth was also good friends with another indie pop prodigy Matt Mahaffey and together they started a band called Ella Minopy in Murfreesboro, TN. When the time came to sign to a record label (Spongebath Records) the two parted ways – Matt started the band Self and Seth formed Fluid Ounces. Much like the Beatles comparisons to Badfinger, Fluid Ounces could not seem to escape Ben Folds popular shadow, and after five albums with his band, Seth continued on assorted solo projects.
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Read a review of Seth Timbs new album “New Personal Record” at Powerpopaholic.com

Big Notebook For Easy Piano (1997)

This is where the magic starts, the guitar-piano oriented focus of the opener “Shamrock” while very much a product of the grunge percussive-bass style at the time, goes into Timbs-land during the chorus. Its uneven, but a few standouts include “Big Empty,” “Spill your Brains” and “Kept Alive By Science”
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The Vegetable Kingdom (1998)

A worthy successor EP that carries over some great ideas, the title track is a brilliant conceptual melody and it goes into the Broadway show styled genius of “Lend Me Your Ears,” you almost expect Timbs to sing this with a top hat and cane. Some understated tracks like “Sucker” show a glimpse of what was to come later.
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In The New Old Fashioned Way (2000)

This seemed the high point for the band commercially, as adding some smart pop tracks like the hyper “Marvel Girl” and “Luxury” along with most of the songs from the last EP. The piano pop on tracks like “11-11” and “Bigger Than Both Of Us” exceed the inventiveness of Ben Folds at the time. You also sense some creative exhaustion towards the albums end, but still for most newbies this is the place to start.
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Foreign Legion (2000)

This uneven set has its share of great songs, but in an effort to break out from being “labeled” the band does rockabilly (“Poet Tree”) and lounge pop interludes (“The Last Thing”). But the magic is still there with the sly “Smitten” and the hyper “Encyclopedia Brown.” You can feel the discontent on “Stark Raving Mad” and after this album the band and Seth took an extended vacation. They would return in 2005 to recording again.
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To be continued…

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Power Popaholic

The Power Popaholic (aka Aaron Kupferberg) writes about Power Pop Music and melodic rock for the review site Powerpopaholic.com

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