Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cubicle Tunes - Week of June 17, 2008

Music is constant, even if my writing isn't, and though I wasn't able to blog over the last few weeks, I was able to listen, and as always, you - the reader - are the beneficiary.

Big news! The bitchin' Saturn ION 3 is now reloaded with XM Radio. I told myself back in May of 2007 that I couldn't justify the expense. Then I told myself that I was a complete tool, and things got pretty heated until my sensible self just up and bitch slapped my frugal self with a stinging backhand. You should have seen it. It was textbook technique, employing the obliques and turning with my torso to generate power, and the next thing I know, I was telling myself "I got knocked the #@&* out!".

So, allow me to pontificate with these:

1. Viva la Vida – Coldplay (2008)

Teaming up with Brian Eno, Coldplay is back with their fourth album, and I think it’s just swell. “Life in Technicolor” is a great opener – I like the idea of starting a record with an instrumental track. Other favorites include “Viva la Vida”, which generated substantial anticipation through the iTunes teaser spots, and the album’s closer, “Death and All His Friends”.

On a related note, I still hate the song “Yellow” from the Parachutes album. I can’t fathom how such a crappy song could come from an otherwise pretty cool band. I mean, every band has a few misses in their discography, but rarely are they so far off the pace.

2. Narrow Stairs – Death Cab for Cutie (2008)

This album is tremendous. The opener, “Bixby Canyon Bridge”, starts calmly and builds pressure and explodes into noise and chaos before settling back into serenity. “I Will Possess Your Heart” is a sublimely creepy account of a distant infatuation turned obsession: “you reject my advances and desperate pleas; I won’t let you let me down so easily”. Damn – call the cops!

“Pity and Fear” must be listened to at ridiculous decibel levels. The distortion stops so abruptly that I went back and checked iTunes to make sure I had the whole song.

And finally, “Your New Twin Sized Bed” is my new Death Cab favorite, and is the first song to be guaranteed a spot on the Vox Acerbus Best of 2008.

3. The Seldom Seen Kid – Elbow (2008)

The return of XM makes an immediate impact with the discovery of this band. I was scanning stations and chanced upon XM 45 as they were playing the magnificent track “One Day Like This”, punctuated by a blend of sweeping and staccato string arrangements. Other favorites include “Mirrorball” and “Grounds for Divorce”, where the album title is taken from the lyric “Mondays are for drinking to the seldom seen kid”. They also have one of the coolest websites out there. Check it out here and make sure your volume is up at the intro screen – you can play piano by scrolling over the different letters! Their extensive discography will certainly warrant further listening.

4. Gavin DeGraw – Gavin DeGraw (2008)

I was hooked on Gavin DeGraw the night I saw him open for Barenaked Ladies back in 2004. I had no idea who he was before then, but he put on one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen. The single “In Love with a Girl” picks up right where the material from Chariot left off. Other favorites include “Next to Me (Wait A Minute Sister”, “Untamed”, “We Belong Together” and “Cheated on Me” (I love a song that I can relate to on such a personal level).

So what if it took him 5 years to release another album? I love it, even if he does look like a dead ringer for Mike Damone from Fast Times at Ridgemont High on the album cover.

5. Gattaca – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1997)

Michael Nyman’s score is gorgeous. This is a film where the score holds critical importance; the surrealism and depth of the movie could not have been attained without this music behind it. Try this one on your iPod some time when you retire for the evening – a dark room with no distractions would take this up a notch, methinks.

I’m out-