Vienna Teng: Inland Territory.#1 Vienna Teng, Inland Territory – We discovered Vienna Teng’s music by chance a few years ago, when we heard “Harbor” playing in a restaurant. Katie looked her up by a fragment of lyrics and bought the then-current album, Warm Strangers, and was hooked. It took me a bit longer, but her latest album is my favorite of the year. Stylistically, it’s a very mixed album, ranging from pop to piano to a capella and even music hall sounds.

We caught Vienna Teng’s concert at the Roxy in April, a few weeks after the album came out. The Paper Raincoat opened for her, and I picked up their EP (and later, their first full-length album).

Vertical Horizon: Burning the Days.#2 Vertical Horizon, Burning the Days – After years off the grid (they’re best known for “Everything You Want,” which came out in 1999!), Vertical Horizon finally got back together and recorded a new bunch of songs. It’s not quite as good as the Gin Blossoms’ comeback, but it’s absolutely recognizable as Vertical Horizon and yet still new. (Well, mostly. “Welcome to the Bottom” sounds an awful lot like “Inside You,” though it does have more words.) Musically it’s similar in style to Go (a mix of hard and soft rock), but the lyrics are better, more on a level with Everything You Want.

Butterfly Boucher: Scary Fragile#3 Butterfly Boucher, Scary Fragile – It’s been about five years since Butterfly Boucher’s last album. We heard “Another White Dash” the first time we listened to Indie 103.1 back in 2004, then caught her opening for both Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan, but her second album was delayed by contract problems with her ex-label. As it turns out, it’s very good — Katie described it as the best sophomore album she’s ever heard. It’s a sort of indie rock sound. It was really tough for me to figure out whether to put Burning the Days or Scary Fragile in the #2 spot, but I finally settled on the one that I’ve been playing the most lately.

We saw Butterfly Boucher in concert last June at the House of Blues in San Diego.

A few minutes ago I was trying to fix sound on my Linux box. Nothing would play, until Katie heard it beep to notify me of a new Twitter message. I closed Twhirl and suddenly my music player worked. The song lined up? Vertical Horizon’s “All is Said and Done.” The first line of the song? “I need you to hear me.” That gave us both a good laugh.

I thought a major point of PulseAudio was to let applications share the sound card cleanly. *grumble* Sound worked fine before Fedora switched. I can’t even blame it on a bleeding-edge distribution, since from what I hear, Ubuntu has similar problems.

At least now I know (sort of) why it stopped again after applying the Complete guide to fix PulseAudio and video/audio VLC Media Player issues.

Vienna Teng: Inland Territory.

  • Hard disks should not sound like buzz saws.
  • Slashdot article “FOSS Sexism Claims Met With Ire & Denial”…gets met with ire & denial. *headdesk*
  • Listening to lightsaber sounds from across the office. I think my coworker w/ the new Android phone found an app for that.
  • Vertical Horizon’s Burning the Days is growing on me, but I think Vienna Teng‘s Inland Territory is my favorite new album this year

Some entertainment stuff I’m looking forward to this year:

Movies: Coraline

YouTube also has the trailer in HD.

I discovered Sandman late, borrowing the trades from one of my (younger) brother’s friends around 1998 or so, then immediately tracking down my own copies. I lucked out and got a complete set on eBay for something like $70. Since then I’ve devoured most of Neil Gaiman’s work, be it in comics, prose, or movie form. The original novel of Coraline was very good, and it’s been adapted by the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is among my favorite movies…and what I’ve seen of the film suggests that they get it. It’s hard to believe it’s only two weeks away!

Other movies: Oddly enough, I’m only mildly interested in Terminator: Salvation, Transformers 2: Can’t Remember the Subtitle, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (the films have been steadily deteriorating after peaking with #3, IMHO), Star Trek, and Watchmen. I’ll probably see all of them, but none of them have me nearly as excited.

Comics, books, music, etc. after the cut: Continue reading

Recently, I was reminded of a conversation about songs with twist endings. Like a Twilight Zone episode, they’ll set up one situation and then in the final verse, switch things around to a completely different perspective.

One example would be Vertical Horizon’s breakthrough hit, “Everything You Want.” The chorus repeats:

He’s everything you want,
He’s everything you need.
He’s everything inside of you that you wish you could be.
He says all the right things at exactly the right times,
But he means nothing to you and you don’t know why.

Most of the song presents this sort of detached, third-party view of someone who perhaps is concerned for a friend, but that’s all. Then the bridge hits, with lines like, “It’s only what you’re asking for,” and the intensity builds, until you get to the final chorus:

I am everything you want,
I am everything you need.
I am everything inside of you that you wish you could be.
I say all the right things at exactly the right times,
But I mean nothing to you and I don’t know why.

It suddenly becomes clear that the speaker is himself right in the middle of things, and the woman’s affections are in fact extremely important to him.

Another one would be the Jim Steinman song “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” made famous by Meat Loaf. The speaker keeps pleading with a woman that…

I want you
I need you
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you
Now don’t be sad
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad

At the end of the song, he explains “There’s only one girl that I will ever love” and that, when she left him, “She kept on telling me…” at which point he launches into the refrain. Suddenly, this guy who sounded unreasonable throughout the entire song turns out to have been on the receiving end of the same dysfunction in a previous relationship—and he’s still messed up by it.

What other songs can you think of that do this?