The Web's most intriguing music-related destinations. This week: Ben Folds and Phish.
'SPEED' SELLS: Singer/songwriter Ben Folds is taking advantage of the current state of the recording industry to step outside of its normal parameters and release a series of EPs this year through Epic Records. The first of these, "Speed Graphic," has boldly asserted itself on Billboard's digital charts, showing that Folds' appeal has not been dimmed by his unorthodox game plan.
"Speed Graphic" debuts this week atop Billboard's Top Internet Albums Sales chart, and two Folds songs are also still holding strong on the volatile Hot Digital Tracks tally. "Eddie Walker (Live)" debuted this week at No. 9 on the latter chart, while Folds' cover of the Cure's "In Between Days" slips 11 spots to No. 18. The latter track debuted at No. 1 on the Hot Digital Tracks chart two weeks ago with 1,300 downloads, leading four other Folds songs in the top six of that chart.
The disc is on sale at Folds' official Web site and Apple's iTunes Music Store as well as at Sony's official Web site. Folds also offers printable artwork for the disc at his site.
"I'm going to do things that are really more about the music for me and less about the hype," Folds told Billboard.com last month. "Because I'm on a major label, there is no escaping the way that we have to do business when I release an album -- everybody wants the 'Album of the Year' Rolling Stone bulls*** where you get two-stars in the review and your face is all over the front. The way to bypass that for me is just to not go through the normal channels. And if I put out an EP, nobody can take it seriously."
A follow-up EP, with the working title of "Sunny 16," is due in September.
PHISHING THE MAINE LINE: Jam-band juggernaut and pioneering download-sale act Phish is still recovering from its summer tour, which climaxed with the two-day IT festival in Limestone, Maine. The group pulled 60,000 fans up to the remote location, boasting three Phish sets a day as well as onsite camping, a 5K race and other activities.
Friday night (Aug. 1), as many "phans" were stuck in traffic waiting to get into the festival grounds, the band played an extended soundcheck, broadcasting it via a local radio station. Also, following the close of Sunday night's show, the band played a bonus late night set at 2 a.m. atop the control tower of the former Air Force base on which the festival was held.
In accordance with its Livephish.com program of selling soundboard recordings of the group's live shows, IT is now for sale on the Web, and the group is offering both of the "extra" sets as bonus add-ons to anyone purchasing the IT concert. Including the six regular sets played during the festival, the package comes to 10 full discs of material, priced at $23.90 for MP3 files and $29.90 in the higher-sound-quality FLAC files.