Welcome to another edition of Niv’s Nur Ein reviews. It’s still a wild stream of consciousness but this week, it’s not a giant review paragraph. It’s choose your own review adventure!
Today’s Story: Pump the brakes, young temp.
You are starting your first day as a temp for the Seuvion Corporation. You’re not one hundred percent sure what they do at Seuvion but the agency you work for offered you triple the pay for a day’s work as long as you had a valid driver’s license and had good listening skills. You had both and really needed the cash to help pay for your cat’s operation, so you took the job with very little hesitation. You drove out to the Seuvion headquarters and were met at the front gates by a young man in a lab coat holding a briefcase.
“You’re the temp from VIP Staffing?” asked the lab coated man while looking at you through a pair of very thick glasses. You nod. You’re about to tell him your name when he cuts you off. He hands you the briefcase. “Take this briefcase to 424 Lincoln Lane. Do not open the briefcase. Do not drive too fast. Take good care of this. You’ll meet up with James Hooper and hand him this briefcase with great care. Understand?”
You repeat the address, nod and head on your way with the briefcase riding shotgun. 424 Lincoln Lane is on the other side of town. You decide to turn on the radio.
** You turn on the Top 40 station, go to #1
** You turn on the Alternative station, go to #4
** You turn on the Rap station, go to #11
** You turn on the Adult Contemporary station, go to #18
You turn on the Top 40 station and a catchy tune from Vowl Sounds
comes on. You are amused that this is a throwback to a previous song from them. The song reminds you of songs you used to enjoy in the eighties by groups like the Primitives and Blondie. You really enjoy the guitars and double tracked vocals. You wish there was a little more bass in the song but find the song very enjoyable and something you would listen to again.
As you bop your head to the blissful pop sounds. You notice out of the corner of your eye that the briefcase is beginning to move along to the music.
** You disregard the briefcase, go to #2
** You pull over to examine the briefcase, go to #15
You decide that the money is enough that you don’t really care why the briefcase is moving on its own. Your cat needs that operation and you’re going to do whatever it takes to make that cash. You turn up the radio and try not to focus on the briefcase beside you. A song from Faster Jackalope
comes on. You like the banjo playing. You quickly realize that the song is about Popeye and Bluto. It’s amusing but some of the lyrical choices don’t appeal to you. You do laugh at the phrase “belly bump” in the chorus but once you start hearing about bursitis and the like, you are less charmed. For a song about two opposing forces who are constantly punching each other, the song is very mellow. It’s a cute song that doesn’t do its characters justice but not something you would listen to often.
You then begin to think about Bluto and wonder ‘Wasn’t his name Brutus?’. You begin to wonder which one is right. Is this one of those Mandela Effect things? You could have sworn his name was Brutus but there’s a nagging feeling inside you that says that the name is Bluto. This internal debate rages on with you for a few blocks until you glance over at the briefcase again and find that it has moved itself out of the shotgun seat and is now in the backseat. You are beginning to feel spooked.
** You disregard the briefcase in the backseat, go to #3
** You pull over to examine the briefcase, go to #15
You decide that out of sight is out of mind and you don’t care what the briefcase does, as long as you get your money. You go back to singing along with the radio. A song from Third Cat
comes on. You like the lyrics to the song a lot. You think to yourself, “If this song was about me, I would feel pretty dissed”. But you find yourself not liking the vocals. They can be a little flat and a little nasally at times and there’s an effect on them that isn’t helping. And the song doesn’t have much of a hook so by the time the song is over, you feel disappointed, like it didn’t really go anywhere. You wish that the song had a really good bridge.
As you think about what could have been in that song, you don’t notice the volatile movements of the briefcase. It suddenly leaps up from the backseat and smashes hard against the back of your head. You are startled and you swerve wildly into oncoming traffic. You collide head-on with a U-Haul truck. As your vision fades, your last thoughts are of your cat. Who will take care of the Great Catsby? You close your eyes.
You turn on the Alternative station and a song from Rain Watt
comes on. You are immediately floored by the emotion and vitriol in the song. You fall deeply in love with this song, especially how the song builds musically from the fuzzed out guitars to the clean acoustic and then the drums kick in. The chorus hooks you and you loudly sing along.
Enjoying the Rain Watt song, you don’t even realize that you have begun to drive faster down the road. You only realize when you start to notice the briefcase has begun to glow as if there were something on fire inside it.
** You disregard the glowing briefcase, go to #5
** You pull over to examine the briefcase, go to #15
You’re considerably freaked out by the prospect of what could be glowing inside of that briefcase and decide to slow down your driving and you notice that the glow dissipates as the car’s speed drops. All you needed to do was pump the brakes. Thinking of that reminds you of that song by Frankie Big Face
. You feel like it’s a perfect driving song and it also sounds a bit like “Highway Don’t Care” by Tim McGraw without all the country twang. But the comparison makes you think how you would like some clean guitar leads in the song as well as a good backup vocal instead of just a double track. You enjoy the guitar solo at the end and wish it had been given the prominence it deserved and that the solo had a better ending. You find yourself enjoying this song as a well composed piece that you could listen to again, despite feeling like ‘if that song were in some kind of internet songwriting competition where the challenge was to write a diss track, it would slightly miss the mark because it’s more of a love song with some light teasing.’
You consider that mild criticism of the song you like for a second before focusing on your job of driving to 424 Lincoln Lane. Your car eases down the roads as you pay close attention to staying below the speed limit. The briefcase hasn’t glowed anymore, but it does seem to be moving in the seat. Your nerves are beginning to get the best of you.
**You keep on driving despite your frazzled nerves, go to #7
**You decide to pull into a gas station and grab some gas station grub, go to #6
You have always been a bit of a stress eater. Having a mysterious briefcase in your car has triggered that habit and you decide to stop off at a Gas and Go. You park the car and go into the store and begin to walk up and down the aisle in search of something to snack on. The store is playing Boffo Yux Dudes
over the speakers. You groan. The song is full of Yo Momma jokes just like the ones you heard in grade school. In fact, they are some of the ones you heard in grade school. The song feels cliché and hearing the same guitar lick over and over again begins to grate on your nerves. You decide that the song just isn’t your cup of tea.
You decide to quickly grab a Snickers bar and head back to the car. When you get there, you see broken glass on the ground. Your window has been smashed and the briefcase is nowhere to be found. You look at the broken window and come to the realization that the window had been smashed from the inside. Had the briefcase done this? You search desperately for where the briefcase must have gone but it is all for naught. It looks like The Great Catsby won’t be getting his operation after all.
With your nerves becoming frayed by the mysterious briefcase, you try to focus on the radio. Ujn Hunter and Friends
comes on and the song seems to come and go. It’s very very repetitive but not in a get-stuck-in-your-head hooky kind of a way. Instead the song just kind of exists as background music. The bass is thin and doesn’t help boost the song. The vocals have some attitude and you aren’t too turned off by the long tails on the end of each line that are only made more noticeable by the delay, but nothing stands out. It’s a perfectly okay song that you wouldn’t seek out again.
You’ve been driving cautiously, maybe too cautiously. You are way below the speed limit and it has become awkward. A police car has pulled up near you and asks you to pull over to the side of the road. You oblige. The officer comes over and tells you that you were doing 20 in a 55 and then they notice how nervous you are and ask if they could check your vehicle.
** You step on the gas and try to make a run for it, #8
** You have nothing to hide and let the officer check your car, #9
Your nerves are shot and you can hear the suitcase shaking beside you. You decide that you can’t be caught with whatever is inside the briefcase. You’ve got priors and you aren’t going back to the slammer. You step on the gas and try to get away from the police officer as fast as you can. The radio starts playing Nick Soma
. You are driven by the mix of percussion on the song, which you enjoy. You find the vocals a bit muddy and find the lyrics going by without hitting you. The instrumental break hits and you feel like absolutely nothing happens as if there was going to be a verse or a solo there and it’s missing. Then the song reaches its big rock ending and the dynamics go wild and overlap in a way that is more messy than enjoyable. It’s an okay song but not your favorite.
Your wishing that your speedy getaway had had a better soundtrack is interrupted by a horrifying realization, you are now doing 90 and the suitcase has begun glowing like a white hot sun in your car. You consider slowing down but you can see the police car chasing behind you and getting closer. You decide to risk it and push on. The suitcase decides that your ride stops here. There is an explosion. Your car flips and as you hang upside-down in the burning wreckage, your last thoughts are of the Great Catsby and how he’ll never get his operation.
You nervously let the police officer check your car. As the officer walks around the car with his flashlight, the radio starts to play Berkeley Social Scene
. From the get-go, the song creates a dark moody atmosphere. You are jarred by Martin Turon’s vocals on the chorus which come off as too shrill and take away from the feel. The feeling of the song returns with the instrumental, but you then start to notice the lyrics. Lines like “your stupidity had teamwork” and “Van Gogh’s ear for music” turn you off from the song. Van Gogh wasn’t deaf. He still had an ear. You think to yourself ‘If this song were in a music contest on the internet and the title they were forced to use was Pump The Brakes, it would be clear that BSS weren’t fans of the title and struggled to use it.” Not the best lyrical work the BSS has produced.
As you ponder where the BSS went wrong on the song, you forget about the briefcase for a moment but the police officer notices it moving and begins to yell at you. He wants to know what’s in the case. You try to explain that you don’t know and that you’re only a temp. He makes you get out of the car and get on the ground. The officer then goes for the briefcase. The briefcase lashes out like a snake. It jumps up and hits the officer in the face. You can only hear the fracas as the officer and briefcase begin to wrestle. And then its over. You hear silence. You finally decide to look up and see the briefcase lying beside a badly beaten and unconscious police officer.
** Wave down help for the fallen cop, #12
** Flee the scene, #10
A briefcase that has come to life and beaten up a police officer is too much for you to mentally handle. You decide to make a run for it down the road, leaving your car, the cop and the briefcase behind and running down the road as fast as your feet can carry you. You try to keep a handle on your sanity. You think of that Lucky Spoon
song about staying positive. You like the statement of the song but you can’t get past the songs flaws like the mouth horns. You could have excused a kazoo or just some MIDI horns but cheesy mouth horns are a no-no in your book. Then you think to yourself, “Wasn’t that song supposed to be a diss track? That’s far from a diss track. Maybe it’s a diss track of diss tracks? If it is that’s way too meta.”
As you ponder the Inception levels of the song, your running isn’t as fast as it could be. Neither is your perception. If it had been, you would’ve noticed the briefcase chasing you down the road like a tumbleweed. You realize a moment too late and it leaps up and strikes you from behind. You stumble and smack chin first against the ground and become dazed. You wonder what you had done to deserve this. All you had wanted to do was take care of your cat, the Great Catsby. You look up and to your shock, the briefcase is in front of you. You hear a click and the briefcase has unlocked itself. You look perplexed as the briefcase opens. Its contents are the last thing you ever see.
You turn on the rap station and begin to groove to the sounds of Agony Sauce
. You are thrilled by the Def Author’s flow and how he plays with the emphasis on certain words. You note how he changes up on the Lucky Spoon diss. The song is a pointed attack that fires darts at the hearts of all its targets. Sure, it may lack the legs to exist in the future but for this one moment in time, the song is a killer. You think to yourself, “If I were judging a songwriting contest that asked for diss tracks, this would win hands down as the fiercest diss track of them all. Everyone got burnt”
As you bop along to Agony Sauce, you don’t notice your speed slowly beginning to creep beyond the speed limit. You also don’t notice the briefcase beside you as it begins to glow. When you finally notice it, you turn and are immediately blinded by the light. You skid off the road but stop just in time before it could cause an accident. You wonder what is going on with the briefcase and grab it. It explodes in your hands.
The next thing you remember, you are waking up in a hospital. 85% of your body is covered in burns and bandages. As you ponder what happened, another thought rushes through your mind. “I hope someone is taking care of my cat. The Great Catsby needs his medicine.”
You begin to panic. There’s an unconscious cop on the ground and a weirdly moving briefcase beside him. This is not what you signed up for. You decide to flag down a car and ask for help. A white stretch limo arrives at the scene and it rolls down the window. You try your best to explain what happened without sounding like a lunatic. The woman sitting in the back of the limo nods at your story and tells you to hop in the limousine and bring the briefcase along. You ask “What about the cop???”. The woman says she’ll have her driver call for help. She then looks you up and down and then asks if you can really afford a run-in with the law like this. You think about how you just got off probation. You grab the briefcase and hop into the limousine.
When you get in the car, you are surprised to hear the sounds of Grumpy Mike
. You enjoy how the song is a dig at Max Bombast. You are pleasantly surprised at how Grumpy Mike has emulated Chris Cornell on the verses. You enjoy how the song employs such varying dynamics. The hook isn’t the catchiest but it’s a powerhouse song and one of the best songs you had heard that week, even if it has about twenty extraneous seconds of song at the end.
The aggression of the song makes you feel even more nervous. Then the woman surprises you by asking if you work for Seuvion. How does she know? She then offers you ten thousand dollars for the briefcase.
** You take the money, #14
** You decline the offer, #13
The money is very tempting. The doctor bills for your cat, The Great Catsby, have been piling up. On the other hand, you are a dedicated temp. Giving the briefcase to some random person could cost you your job. Besides, the briefcase seems very dangerous and you have no idea who this woman is or how she knows you are working for Seuvion. You don’t know what to do. Abominominous
plays over the radio. You like the groove of the song. You think of the other songs that you have heard recently from Abominominous and think to yourself “If this is all one album, this is definitely the third single. It’s not the big standout but it’s a lower ranking hit.” You struggle to understand what the song is about. It seems to be about evil corporations of some kind. It’s word salad sometimes but you still find yourself digging it. You notice that the song has a clear point where the radio version would end and then there’s the extended album version which includes another minute of guitar wankery.
All the talk of evil businesses doing evil things makes you decide to say no to the offer. The woman gets upset and lunges for the briefcase. You hold on to the handle and it becomes a tug of war. The briefcase doesn’t seem to enjoy being jostled like that and it begins to shake wildly. You both drop the briefcase. It hits the floor of the limousine and pops open. You both look inside. It only takes a second for you to realize that you have made a terrible mistake. Your last thoughts are of the Great Catsby and you hope someone will take care of him.
You are elated at the idea of getting rid of the briefcase. It is much more trouble than it’s worth and the ten thousand dollars would be able to help out your cat, The Great Catsby, immensely. You hand over the briefcase without hesitation and the woman hands you a stack of cash. You are given a moment to count it before the limo drops you off at a local diner. The limo drives away with the briefcase and you try to put the whole incident out of your mind. You go into the diner and get seated at a table. You decide to treat yourself to some lunch. On a nearby radio, The Sunday Colors
plays. You like the rhythm of the guitar. You love the details strewn throughout the lyric. You can envision the coffee cup and the drawer riddled with porn. The “deserve to die alone” line and the heavy breath at the end both stand out as especially good. It’s not a complex song but it’s extremely enjoyable.
You are suddenly overcome with guilt. You wish that you could give the money back to the mysterious woman and finish up the job, even if it meant dealing with a living briefcase. You think about The Great Catsby and you know that you’re going to be able to get him his operation but at what cost. You won’t be able to go back to work. The police are probably looking for you. Sauvion will probably be angry that their briefcase is gone. It’s all a mess. You struggle to eat your food when it arrives. You sit there in the diner booth and you wish that you had never taken that temp job.
You are nearly overcome by your curiosity. You pull over to the side of the road and decide that you are going to take a look inside the briefcase. You hesitate. The radio starts playing Rachael Layne
. The song feels like a punchy rocked-up version of a 70’s Billy Joel song. The song hits its mark with lyrical insults. They aren’t particularly vicious but the quantity in the verses seems to make up for the lesser quality. It feels like a song that you wouldn’t want to have directed at you. Other than the weak bridge, it’s a concise and strong song.
The song increases your hesitation. Is opening the briefcase an accident in the making? The briefcase is still moving. You put a hand on it and you can feel something squirming inside it. You take a deep breath.
You finally open the briefcase, #16
You drive on to 424 Lincoln Lane, #17
The briefcase begins to make a low humming noise and you can no longer hold back your desire to find out what’s inside. You grab it and put it on your lap. At that moment, Merisan
begins to play on the radio. You struggle a bit to understand what the song is about. There’s talk of twelve thousand years, slaves, frozen samples… you don’t get it. But you can definitely feel the atmosphere built by the song’s composition. The sparse use of cymbals on the verses helps create the tone. You enjoy the sound of the song. It has good guitars and an excellent vocal performance but you wish that you had the slightest clue what the song was about.
The pounding drums accelerate your heartbeat. On your lap, the briefcase seems to pulsate at the same rhythm. You stroke the top of the briefcase just like you do to your cat, The Great Catsby, when he comes to sit in your lap. Your nerves suddenly begin to calm. You smile as your hand runs over the latch of the briefcase. There is a click. It pops open and a glowing light fills the inside of the car. You look at the contents of the briefcase. You immediately wish that you hadn’t. You try to toss the briefcase off your lap but it’s too late. You’ll never be able to get your cat that operation.
The briefcase begins to make a high-pitched noise that you can feel like a drill burying itself in your wisdom teeth. You decide that you have had enough of the briefcase. You turn your attention back to the road and set a course for 424 Lincoln Lane. You turn up the radio and Max Bombast
plays. The song isn’t as good as other Max Bombast songs that you have heard recently but for some reason it doesn’t matter. You think to yourself, “It’s as if Max Bombast was in an internet songwriting contest and had immunity that round and really didn’t have to put together a song”. The song is short and lacks a punch. It’s there and it’s gone. Not a bad song but barely a song. It felt like the start of something that may never be completed.
The brevity of Max’s song inspires you to take some shortcuts. You drive through alleyways and make some sharp turns through the city, while all the time keeping an eye on the speedometer. Before you know it, you find yourself at 424 Lincoln Lane. It’s nothing like Sauvion. Where Sauvion was a laboratory sitting behind a gate and security guards, 424 Lincoln Lane was a garage. You drove up and triple checked the address. It was correct. You walk over to a nearby mechanic.
“Hey, I’m looking for James Hooper.”
The mechanic looks up from the car that he’s working on. He’s covered in grease and has one eye covered with a patch. “I’m James Hooper. Is that my briefcase from Sauvion?” You nod. “Good. I see you got it here in one piece.” Hooper reaches into the front pocket of his overalls and pulls out a wad of dollar bills. At first, you hesitate. You were supposed to be getting paid by your temp agency but then you eye just how much money it is and you are stunned. You take the money and hand over the briefcase. You try to thank him but he immediately slams down the hood of the car he had been working on and walks away.
You take the money and hop back into your car. Between the wad of cash and the money from your temp agency, The Great Catsby’s health issues would now be a thing of the past. You take one last look at 424 Lincoln Lane. Suddenly, you hear a loud noise like a sonic boom. Something has shot out of the roof of the garage like a rocket. What on Earth was in that briefcase?
You turn on the adult contemporary channel and Mandibles
begins to play. Immediately, you are turned off by flange effect on the guitars but you continue to listen. It's not your favorite song from them by a country mile. You begin to dig into the lyrics and you see what they were going for and how it may have missed the mark. Like how it was supposed to be sarcastic but it sounds too earnest or how the prosody on some of the lines was a bit off. Then comes the bridge and the change in flow is jarring instead of appealing. You feel like a song about a primadonna is an interesting concept but it fails on execution.
The song brings down your mood and you decide to cheer yourself up by taking the scenic route to 424 Lincoln Lane. You do a bit of creative routing and end up on a lazy street close to your home. You drive lazily and begin to hear a hum coming from the briefcase. You look over at it curiously. You take you eyes off the road for a brief moment and then you feel the car run over something. You stop the car and hop out to see what you have it. To your horror, you find your cat- The Great Catsby. In your rush to get out of the house, you must have left the back door open and the Great Catsby had snuck out. As you fall to your knees beside your beloved feline, you weep. You were so close to getting that operation.
Well, I hope you all had fun with the weirdest set of reviews that I have ever written. This is inspired by my son Max who is writing a choose your own adventure for his senior project. Plus, it’s fun. Y’all remember fun. Now quit your Nur whining and go have fun making art.