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Limp Bizkit, Fluid Ounces

Limp Bizkit
Significant Other
(Flip/Interscope)

Considering the band's fondness for macho funk-rock rhythms and masculine posturing, it's a mystery why the members of Jacksonville-based Limp Bizkit elected to name themselves after a flaccid foodstuff. A band with such manly aspirations should have a tough, no-nonsense tag -- something with hair on it, like Cum-Shootin' Cowboys or 247 Erection.

But on closer inspection, Limp Bizkit's impotent moniker is peculiarly appropriate. The band's energetic-but-vacuous new album, Significant Other, is the work of five pathologically insecure suburbanites -- the recording Columbine High students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold might have made had they abandoned their plans to go on a shooting spree. Like them, LB frontman Fred Durst enjoys portraying himself as a psychotic victim, but his suburban snarl is as credible as Pat Boone's. Moreover, Durst's idea of profundity is to pepper every other phrase with an obscenity. You'd have to attend a pimp's convention to hear motherfucker uttered as frequently as it is on Significant Other.

All this vulgarity casts a harsh light on Limp Bizkit's dubious talents. While the band receives high marks for enthusiasm, its lyrics are almost totally devoid of insight, unless you're impressed by lines like, "I feel like shit, my suggestion is to keep your distance, 'cause right now I'm dangerous." Unlike LB's funk forefathers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, there is no sense of joy or introspection to the band's music. Even the suggestively titled single "Nookie" is a woeful tale of victimization.

But while Limp Bizkit may be intellectually bankrupt, its members are superb capitalists who know the importance of connections. Significant Other features guest performances by rapper Method Man, Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland, and Korn singer Jonathan Davis, among others. These guest spots are the pop-music equivalent of commercial endorsements -- testimonials designed to boost LB's street credibility, as well as its profits.

During a recent MTV special, guitarist Wes Borland scoffed at performing in small towns. It was a telling moment. Limp Bizkit just recently hit the big time, yet its members are already behaving like spoiled sellouts. In today's cash-crazed world, that's probably considered an accomplishment. -- Bruce Britt

Fluid Ounces
In the New Old Fashioned Way
(Spongebath)

Reviewing the new Fluid Ounces disc without a mention of Ben Folds Five would be tantamount to talking about the problems that the post office faces without using the word ammo. They're not necessarily bound together in any real way, but to ignore the connection between the two is ridiculous.

The obvious connection between Fluid Ounces and Ben Folds Five is the strung-and-hammered Steinway that Seth Timbs and Ben Folds both pound upon so exquisitely. When you make a piano your core sound, you're going to draw comparisons. There is also a certain similarity in the songs of Fluid and Five; both write witty, smirking, smart-ass lyrics and wrap them in inventive and engaging melodies.

The disparities between the two entities stack up along slightly different lines. First and foremost, as a quartet, Fluid Ounces is actually closer to five than Ben Folds. Among the Fluid Ounces crew is Brian Rogers, who plays guitar, the instrument that Folds and company eschew in favor of more-aggressive bass-playing. Rogers' work shifts between a laid-back supporting role and a wildly emotive primary sound. When he finds himself at the top of the mix, there is the distinct smell of Phish as he peels off chording and solos reminiscent of Trey Anastasio's jam-based inventions.

As for pianist Timbs, he wears a lot of the same influences as Folds: early piano-based Todd Rundgren without the angst, Elton John without the drama, Billy Joel without the rampant machismo. Vocally and instrumentally Timbs presents phrases and turns of melody that positively drip with the sound of Andy Stuermer and Jellyfish.

Fluid Ounces comparisons aren't limited to outside influences. The biggest difference between In the New Old Fashioned Way and its full-length predecessor, the band's debut, Big Notebook For Easy Piano, is in the structure of the songs, as the band opts for a simpler and more linear approach to its material. With little or no art-for-art's-sake pretension to clog up the proceedings, Fluid Ounces can get straight to the business at hand, which is a more direct, less affected set of pop tunes. From the New Orleans jellyroll of "Comfortable" to the funky Ben Folds-meets-the-Squirrel Nut Zippers Victrola dance of "Lend Me Your Ears" to the avant-pop vaudeville jaunt of "Luxury," the band succeeds in mixing a wide variety of pop styles without parading each one as if it were simply proof of accomplishment.

With all these influences careening around, Fluid Ounces still manages to invest enough of itself to create a unique sound. Besides, it's not like Ben Folds Five has inspired hundreds of copycat bands since its debut in 1995. In the New Old Fashioned Way is a wonderfully wry disc filled with bouncy pop confections that stick in the memory with almost no effort, and Fluid Ounces is an accomplished and inspired band that, I hope, will benefit from the continued success of a certain guitarless trio. -- Brian Baker

 
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