Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of November 26, 2007

Finally, some newer releases worthy of note. The last couple of weeks have been pretty sparse.

1. Angels & Airwaves - I-Empire (2007)

I know that Angels & Airwaves should be everything I'm against, but they're not. In fact, I am an unjustifiably huge fan of this band. I hated Blink 182 and The Offspring, of which former members comprise half of A&A. I hate songs with a positive message. I hate jangly guitars. And yet, I listen. Highlights include "Lifeline" and "True Love".

2. Shout Out Louds - Our Ill Wills (2007)

Another iTunes chance-upon that paid off. Think The Cure's "The Head on the Door" recorded in 2007, and there you have it. I was all happy about the great lyric in "You Are Dreaming" where he sings "If you think that I'm still thinking of you, you're dreaming" until I listened further and determined it's more of a defiant denial than a declaration of independence. Farmer Ted said it best when he said "Do you know how many times a week I go without lunch because some bitch borrows my lunch money? Y'know, any halfway decent girl can rob me blind, because I'm too torqued up to say no." Yeah, something like that.

3. One Republic - Dreaming Out Loud (2007)

This one is actually on life support. I heard just enough the first time through to grant it clemency for another listen, but it's fading fast. I was drawn in by the Imogen Heap-esque intro to the opening track "Say Anything (All I Need)", but the rest fails to live up. At least the band's own version of "Apologize" is tolerable, unlike the Timbaland version. How do you seal the fate of a marginal-at-best pop song? Let a hip-hop artist remix it!

4. October Project - October Project (1993)

This album is simply ethereal. The synth-folk arrangements are lush and epic, and the vocals of Mary Gauthier are angelic. If this album was wine, it would be a pinot grigio - light, semi-sweet, and intoxicating.

5. 10,000 Maniacs - Our Time In Eden (1992)

The tracks "Eden" and "Jezebel" are two of the greatest pop songs I've heard. This album was their peak - a bold statement considering the greatness of 1987's "In My Tribe". I liked Natalie Merchant's solo work once she left the band, but I would have much prefered 3 more 10,000 Maniacs albums with her instead of the albums they made without her. They were a legitimately talented band, as chronicled on the MTV Unplugged live album from 1993.

I'm out-

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of November 19, 2007

This week's offering of despair contains a Vox Acerbus first - the inclusion of a podcast. I am so cutting edge, you get paper cuts while you read my blog.

1. The National - NPR Concert Podcast (2007)

If I can't get enough of this amazing band, then neither will you. I found this podcast on iTunes this morning, and it is a pleasant rememberance of the show I attended this fall. You can get the podcast here (if you have iTunes), and it's free. Nice.

2. Shawn Colvin - Cover Girl (1994)

I appreciate her songwriting talent more than anyone, but I also appreciate her interpretations of the music of others. The most notable here is the cover of Talking Heads' "This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)". Stripped down, it becomes one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

3. Nine Inch Nails - Year Zero (2007)

It should come as no surprise that I find NIN to be quite soothing. My favorite track from this album is "In This Twilight". The words are sung in major key and sound quite bright, accompanied by the music that sounds like someone shoved a blade through your ear and is slowly scraping away the inside of your skull.

4. Tori Amos - Tales From A Librarian (2003)

The cool thing about this collection from Tori Amos is that it isn't just a compilation of singles. The songs were selected by Amos, not the label, and in almost all cases, they have been remixed or rerecorded. In most cases, the changes are so subtle that a casual listener wouldn't pick up on them, but trust me - they are there. I have always thought that "Winter" and "Silent All These Years" are gorgeous songs. The dance remix version of "Professional Widow" was a mistake, but the remainder of the album is well worth your while.

5. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin (2007)

Sad to say I missed their 2006 album "Everything All The Time", but not this year, dammit. The opening track, "Is There A Ghost?" sounds like it could open some early 80's anthem rock album before it evolves, and "No One's Gonna Love You" is one of the rare love songs I can get behind because it's written within the realm of reason instead of hollow impossibilities.

I'm out-

Monday, November 19, 2007

And The New Name Is . . . Vox Acerbus

I finally came up with something I consider not only accurate, but borderline clever.

Vox acerbus, loosely translated, is "bitter voice", and who's more bitter than me?

Now, I've been asked on more than one occasion, "why are you so damn bitter?". And the answer is quite simple: it's none of your damn business, and I'll thank you to stay out of my personal affairs.

Not really. I just like to say that. Although, technically, I wrote it, but if you want to argue semantics, then you can just take your ass down the road by clicking the "next blog" link at the top of this page.

Not really. But sometimes, you need to be taken down a notch and be told, straight out, that you are not the cat's ass like you think, and that's what I'm here for. Most of the time, I am right, and you are not.

Not really. But that goes without saying doesn't it? You want to be right? Then write your own blog. You want to be wrong? Then keep reading mine.

Not really. But you keep coming back, right? Why? I'll tell you. Because I am the vinegar in your sugary world. Remember my rant about the coloring books? It's true. Without a little sour, the sweetness becomes to much to bear.

Think of me as your own personal Col. Nathan Jessep. Because my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves boredom. You don't want the truth because deep down in places you don't talk about at parties, you want me on this blog. You need me on this blog. And I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very blog that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you take up a blog, and write a post.


I'm out-

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of November 12, 2007

There wasn't much on the new release front this week (at least that I've heard yet) so I am going retro in this week's offering of pain and suffering. Hey - if you are depending on me for the freshest content, than you are just an idiot beyond explanation.

1. Dido - Life for Rent (2003)

I wasn't much on the "White Flag" single at first, but the title track is mesmerizing, and the creepy love song "Don't Leave Home" smacks of unhealthy co-dependency with such heartwarming lines like "So close the blinds and shut the door, you won't need other friends anymore" and "So you won't be leaving, will you?".

Yes, that was all one sentence.

2. Elvis Costello and Burt Bacharach - Painted From Memory (1998)

How about lyrical gems like "but now I fill my life up with all that I can to deaden this sensation" from the song "This House is Empty Now"? Or "those eyes I tried to capture, they are lost to me now forever, they smile for someone else" from the title track?

Such sadness. Such misery. Such bliss. (Yep - a paradox. You had better recognize.)

3. Patty Larkin - Red = Luck (2003)

One of the more vivid folk albums I've heard. Lyrical imagery adds a visual aspect to the aural, and the result is amazing. Larkin sings "Inside your painting, I'm cadmium yellow, I'm walking across the green" on the track "Inside Your Painting", and I imagine a canvas. Uncanny. But you know I can't abide an album without lament, so I proffer the following from the song "Italian Shoes", where she crushes you with "You could tell me 'I love you', like that's supposed to mean something. I mean, I could always say 'I love you' too, and it wouldn't mean a thing to me."


4. Death Cab for Cutie - Transatlanticism (2003)

As if the idea of love as an illusion needed reinforcement, "Tiny Vessels" brings such pain as "this is the moment that you know, that you told her that you loved her but you don't" and "so one last touch and then you'll go, and we'll pretend that it meant something so much more".

The song "Title & Registration" takes an automobile-laden motif journey to the same conclusion: "there's no blame for how our love did slowly fade, and now that it's gone it's like it wasn't there at all, and here i rest where disappointment and regret collide".

5. The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

Aside from the fact that this is among the most essential albums of all-time, you must also remember that Robert Smith is the unprecedented Uber Moper. Nothing will cheer you up like the opening track "Plainsong" and this light-hearted line: "and it's so cold, it's like the cold if you were dead, and then you smiled for a second".

And I leave with you this from the song "Untitled" - "another time undone, hopelessly fighting the devil, futility, feeling the monster climb deeper inside of me, feeling him gnawing my heart away hungrily, i'll never lose this pain . . ."

And you thought YOU had it rough.

I'm out-

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of November 6, 2007

OK, so I've had some difficulty with the tunes in my cubicle lately. First, my trusty 3rd Gen 20GB iPod finally bought the farm after 3 1/2 years of daily and constant use. I get the "!" and the file folder on the main screen, and I spent about 2 hours trying everything that said to try, but to no avail. Maybe Santa will bring me a 160GB bad boy for Xmas, but sometimes I get into mischief, so I'm not banking on it.

So, I burned a few MP3 CD's and I run them through Windows Media Player on my laptop. Not very efficient, but better than the Lite Rock 99 WFMK crap from over the wall.

Then, my $20 Computer Associates speakers developed a short in the cable and now the left speaker cuts in and out unless I find the perfect position for the cable and anchor it down. Today it's draped over the phone and looped through a staple remover.

Next week I am going to hire Brian Vander Ark to play my cubicle. Hey - he played backyards and living rooms all summer, so why not a cubicle?

Through all of that adversity, I still have some pretty stellar tunes to report.

1. Radiohead - In Rainbows (2007)

In a word - brilliant. I am entranced by "All I Need", and "House of Cards" and "Videotape" are sonic hypnotism.

2. The National - Alligator (2005)

No - I can't let go of The National. This is a different album than this year's "Boxer" that I've been forcing on you recently, but it's just as good. Highlights include "Baby, We'll Be Fine" with the charming lamentation of "I'm so sorry for everything" in the refrain, and "All The Wine", with the matter of fact assertion that "All the wine is all for me".

3. Griffin House - Flying Upside Down (2007)

This was an iTunes impulse buy. I'm glad I'm impulsive. Lyrics are critical, and House had enough lines in the 30 second samples to reel me in, including "I can take a punch and I don't mind to bleed, as long as afterwards you feel bad for me" from the cleverly titled "The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind" and "She's out of my league, and that's the kind of girl I need" from the song "Let Me In".

I'm out-