Monday, December 31, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of December 31, 2007

It's the last installment of 2007, so savor the flavor, my friends. All in all, it was a pretty good year. I've done some research, and there are already some highly anticipated releases on the Vox Acerbus radar for 2008.

1. The Long Road Out of Eden - The Eagles (2007)

I have always held the opinion that "Hotel California" is the worst song EVER (and that doesn't change), but for some unexplained reason, I found myself listening to this and even somewhat liking it. I am getting soft in my old age - I can't even keep up a good rail against the establishment anymore.

2. Until When We Are Ghosts - William Fitzsimmons (2005)

2007's Goodnight was so great, I had to go back and check out his debut. I'm glad I did. "Passion Play" is gorgeous, and is the single reason that 2008 becomes the year that I finally learn to play the guitar. Other highlights include "Shattered" (awesome intro) and "My Life Changed".

3. Tom Waits - The Black Rider (1993)

Holly Cole's Temptation album was a collection of Tom Waits songs, and I was floored by the beauty of "The Briar & The Rose". A conversation with my father revealed that he had The Black Rider, and I had to hear the original. Waits is definitely an acquired taste (or sound, as the case may be), but he's well worth the investment.

4. Winter Pays for Summer - Glen Phillips (2005)

A recent conversation with a friend reminded me of the splendor of this album from the former front man of Toad the Wet Sprocket. "Clear Eyed", "True" and "Courage" are among the choice cuts, but the entire album is worthy of an hour of your time.

5. Time (The Revelator) - Gillian Welch (2001)

In addition to being a fine album through and through, this record features one of the most epic closing tracks ever - the 14:39 long "I Dream A Highway". Every time it starts, I wonder how long I'll get into it, and every time, I hear the closing notes.

I'm out-

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Cubicle Tunes - Week of Dec. 24, 2007

Great news, boys and girls! Even though I'm bitter and deserved a lump of coal for Xmas, Santa brought me a new iPod and $50 in iTunes gift certificates. So who cares if nobody is working this week - revel in my minstrelsy!

The creation of the Vox Acerbus Best of 2007 brought back some great albums from earlier in the year, before I started this feature, and all of the "best of" albums are back in high rotation.

1. Time on Earth - Crowded House (2007)

Sometimes a band reunites for all the wrong reasons and puts out a record that embarrasses them. Crowded House is not one those bands. This album sounds almost like it could have followed the eponymous offering of 1986, and proves that their long lapse between recordings was indeed a travesty.

2. Home Again, Home Again (EP) - Hem (2007)

Simply stated, I don't think there is band out there as diverse or that can craft a gorgeous melody as well as Hem. Even the short songs like "The Meeting Place" are epic in beauty.

3. Who You Are - Cary Brothers (2007)

These days, an association with Zach Braff is enough to make an album a hit, but Cary Brothers could certainly stand alone. In addition to the awesome cover of the Thompson Twins' "If You Were Here", other standouts include "The Glass Parade", the sonic moods of "Honesty" and "All The Rage", and the lush strings of "The Loneliest Girl in the World". A sad record that makes me happy.

4. Goodnight - William Fitzsimmons (2007)

The electronica of "Please Don't Go" is an anamoly as far as the album is concerned. The rest of Goodnight is acoustic, poetic, mournful, and surprisingly bright given some of the subject matter. The vocals rarely rise above a whisper, in a style similar to Iron & Wine, and Ingrid Michaelson offers some vocal assistance as well.

5. Some Mad Hope - Matt Nathanson (2007)

At first listen, "Wedding Dress" might be a choice for that special first dance at the wedding, but listen closely before you decide to use it. Other standouts include "All We Are" and "Still". While some of the more uptempo tracks suggest a rock or pop slant, the album's strengths are clearly in the slower acoustic numbers.

I'm out-

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Spunkybean! A Zesty Pop Culture Stew

I have been asked to become a contributing writer for an exciting site called Spunkybean.

The site is new, but is already chock full o' fresh takes on all things pop culture. If you like music, TV, film, books, sports, rants, sarcasm, and witty repartee, then hit us up and check us out. Leave a comment - good or bad - and tell your friends (if you have any, that is.) If not, tell a stranger. He may thank you for it, or he might punch you in the mouth, but hey, that's what makes life exciting, right? Take a chance!

Go ahead - click the link. You know you want to, and really, who's gonna know?

I'm out-

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Vox Acerbus Best of 2007

The premise: every year, I create a compilation CD of my favorite songs from that year.

First - I only include songs from albums that I bought throughout the year. I don’t cull the Internet looking for other lists or guides or anything like that. I simply sort my iTunes library by year and make a play list from it – simple as that.

Second – how did I arrive at an arbitrary number like 18? Aren’t most lists a Top 10 or Top 25? Well, yes, but I operate on the one disc rule – when the disc is full, the list stops.

That being said, here are my 18 best songs of 2007 in no particular order.

1. “Apartment Story” by The National, from Boxer
“stay inside our rosy minded fuzz”

Blissful ignorance is just one way to deal with a harsh reality.

2. “The Limit to Your Love” by Feist, from The Reminder
“I know that only I can save me”

This song, musically and lyrically, alternates between fear and hope, and I think fear wins out in the end.

3. “The Guy That Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind” by Griffin House, from Flying Upside Down
“. . . I can take a punch, I don’t mind to bleed, as long as afterwards you feel bad for me . . .”

Everyone has a relationship they walked out on and ended up regretting it – a classic case of woeful retrospection.

4. “The Part Where You Let Go” by Hem, from Home Again, Home Again
“I still see you there, on your darkest night”

This song is about those dark moments where the ultimate questions of trust and devotion are asked and answered.

5. “Don’t Stop Now” by Crowded House, from Time on Earth
“Who knows what is right in front of us?”

How many times have you taken the long way around to find you just ended up where you started?

6. “Manhattan Moon” by Lucy Kaplansky, from Over the Hills
“While I’m singing you a lullaby, someone’s waking up on the other side”

Every parent has been questioned by their child about what happens to the moon when the day breaks. This is Lucy’s answer to her daughter.

7. “Car Crash” by Matt Nathanson, from Some Mad Hope
“. . . take me deep out past the lights, where nothing dims these stars”

Sometimes people become so numb and desperate that they’ll accept any type of feeling, even pain, to fill the emptiness.

8. “Stars & Satellites” by Minnie Driver, from Seastories
“If love is the answer you seek, you’re asking the wrong kinds of questions”

The answers are out there if you know where to look and who to ask.

9. “Burgundy Shoes” by Patty Griffin, from Children Running Through
“You’re the most pretty lady in the world . . .”

Think back to your earliest childhood memory where everything was still pure and innocent, before you became jaded and cynical (or is that just me . . .)

10. “Not My Friend” by Norah Jones, from Not Too Late
“You seem really glad that I am sad”

This song is about a refusal to forgive someone, and personally, I see no problem with that.

11. “All I Need” by Radiohead, from In Rainbows
“I only stick with you because there are no others”

At some point in a relationship, one will take the other for granted, and then the whole thing hinges on someone’s willingness (or reluctance) to be forsaken.

12. “Start A War” by The National, from Boxer
“Do you really think you can just put it in a safe behind a painting, lock it up, and leave?”

After much deliberation, I’ve concluded that this song is about the fact that pain and suffering always linger well beyond the finite ends offered by wills or judgments.

13. “Your Parents’ Living Room” by Shout Out Louds, from Our Ill Wills
“Where the attention comes from depends on how much I care”

A simple song of nostalgia versus present day, and wondering why it all can’t just be like it was before . . .

14. “Midnight Coward” by Stars, from In Our Bedroom After the War
“I can always trust as much as you deceive”

This is an ode to an evening’s optimistic uphill climb that leads to a pinnacle of a one-night stand, followed by the inevitable awkward descent the next morning.

15. “Lifeline” by Angels & Airwaves, from I-Empire
“I see panic in those eyes”

I think this guy is in denial, but who am I to shatter someone’s dream? Good luck to you, sir.

16. “Please Don’t Go” by William Fitzsimmons, from Goodnight
“. . . I don’t believe your protest, that you swear you didn’t know . . .”

This is a gut wrenching account of a little boy trying to dispel the simplest of reasons given for his father’s departure, because he’s too young to understand that his father just didn’t want anything to do him.

17. “Oxygen” by Colbie Caillat, from Coco
“and so I found a state of mind where I could be speechless”

Consequences be damned! She is telling it like it is, although I think she’s being a little pushy with the whole empty ring finger reference . . .

18. “If You Were Here” by Cary Brothers, from Who You Are
“If you were here, I could deceive you”

Who would have thought this 80’s synth classic from The Thompson Twins would translate so well into a folk version cover? Well, obviously, I do.

I'm out-