Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Cubicle Tunes - Week of February 26, 2008

So what if I post my weekly features once a month? You’re not the boss of me.

There hasn’t been much new music that has caught my attention over the past couple of weeks, but read below about some great stuff that’s new to me, even though it has been out for a while.

I am greatly anticipating the new record from Canadian folk artist Kathleen Edwards. She is releasing Asking for Flowers next week (March 4) and launching a spring tour soon afterwards. Check out a few of the tracks and get tour dates here. I hope I can catch her show at The Magic Bag in Ferndale, Michigan on Sunday, April 6.

That being said . . .

1. Failer – Kathleen Edwards (2003)

“Sweet Little Duck” is one of the most beautifully dark and melancholy folk songs ever, with the feedback-tinged swells of strings and the lyrics “I sleep through most my days, so the time goes by, and I think I drink more now than ever”. Other highlights include “Mercury” and “Hockey Skates”.

2. Back to Me – Kathleen Edwards (2005)

Edwards’ sophomore effort widens the folk scope and features the outstanding mid-tempo tracks “Copied Keys” and “Summerlong” as well as ballads “Old Time Sake” and “Good Things”. The standout is “Somewhere Else”, which features a surprising horn arrangement and juxtaposed lyrics, with Edwards singing “life can be sweet if I want it to be” in one verse, followed by “life is so cruel because I let it be” in the next.

3. Once – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2007)

I am ashamed and embarrassed that I missed this last year. A friend of mine recommended this album (and the movie) during a lunch conversation, and I was floored. Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova are a pairing on par with Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan. “Falling Slowly” is stunningly beautiful. The film is at the top of my Netflix queue.

4. Swell Season – Glen Hansard (2006)

Of course, I can never get enough of a good thing, so hearing the Once soundtrack led me to this album - an earlier collaborative effort by Hansard and Irglova. It’s the perfect paradox of lush, beautiful arrangements and lyrics and pain and fear, and THAT, my friends, is why you should love paradoxes as much as I do.

5. The Sun is Melting – The Colorful Quiet (2006)

This independent album by Stephen Webster is simply amazing. These deeply introspective songs are emotional and insightful, and I think of him as a modern day Nick Drake.

I’m out-

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Falling Down

I fell down yesterday.

It was a genuine fall, too - not a stumble. I went down, and I went down hard.

I parked my car in front of the local hardware to get some painting supplies. The parking lot was empty, so I was walking fast and trying to read the business hours on the front door to see if they were open. Without warning, I was airborne.

As I flew violently forward, survival instinct kicked in, and I turned sideways to minimize the impact and get set up for the tuck and roll. I landed squarely on my left hip, assumed the fetal position for a split second, and carried momentum through the roll. I popped up on one leg almost as quick as I went down, and was back in stride for a few steps until the second wave of momentum hit me like a tidal wave and sent me spiralling out of control. I landed on my right knee and bounced forward before finally coming to rest face down between the front door and the cases of windshield wiper fluid stacked along the wall.

WTF was that? I looked back, eager to see the snow or ice that put me in peril, but there was none to be seen. It was a curb - in all of its glorious open-and-obvious splendor. I stood up and entered the store, and was quickly greeted by a clerk just few steps inside. He HAD to have seen it all happen, but he looked at me and deadpanned "Is there something I can help you find?" I thought to myself, yes - how about my dignity? Or my center of gravity?

He pointed me to the paint section, and I found what I needed. I paid for the merchandise, and he handed me my change and thanked me for my patronage. I thought I was in the clear, but just before I reached the door, he says behind me "be careful". The bastard mocked me, but he did it without laughing or smiling, so he could later argue he was acting professionally and within the capacity of his hardware clerking duties. Well played, sir, but you will rue the day, my friend.

I haven't gone down like that since the winter of '94, when I fell backwards and slid down an icy embankment in front of a Ponderosa, much to the delight of the many patrons who witnessed it through the huge front windows of the restaurant. I don't know what's more embarrassing - the fact that I bit it, or the fact I was at a Ponderosa.

I'm out-