Monday, December 27, 2010

Best Albums of 2010: Prelude

As always, this is my opinion. I'm entitled to it, and you must be interested or something similar, otherwise you wouldn't be reading this internet weblog.

Anyshways, this is the prelude to my TOP 10 OF 2010!
These are the the EPs that can't count as full albums, albums that aren't technically original, and the WTFs... Enjoy.

Five EPs worth listening to.

1.) Sufjan Stevens - "All Delighted People EP" - I don't care what anyone else says. This EP is better than his full length release, "The Age of Adz." Both are fantastic musically, lyrically, vocally, everything, but this album is more of the Sufjan that I personally want to hear more of. I'm not big on synthetic sounds, and when I think Sufjan Stevens, I don't think of dance music. Ergo, this hour-long EP (!!!) is epic and beautiful, lush and intricate with emotion. The best song is the EP opener, "All Delighted People (Original Version)."

2.) A Billion Ernies - "A Billion Ernies/ Informant Split" - Only really a fan of A Billion Ernies, so I only rotate their side of the EP (not fair, I know). From these few songs, I am reminded why I came to love them. This band puts out sonically charged and pounding songs of revolution, hope, and God's a Jesus-loving RX Bandits. Crashing drums, strange twists in time signatures, on-point brass, and scathing vocals bring it all together to make ABE one of Community Records's best. "Won't Take Sides" is my favorite, criticizing the hurt and division throughout humanity and the church when Jesus taught unity and peace.

3.) Mae - "(e)vening" - The final release from the series of three EPs from Mae, "(e)vening" is breathtakingly beautiful. While the songs are fairly classic Mae in their piano driven rock, this EP grabs my attention because of the solo piano tracks, "Season i, ii, and iii." No vocals here, just heartfelt piano playing, telling a story without saying a word. When my day ends in stress, these three songs bring peace to my soul. "Bloom" is also very good, ending with the lines, "Love will find a way to bloom!" After their uninspired album "Singularity," I'm glad Mae went back to the drawing board to find some passion all over again.

4.) Bradley Hathaway - "A Thousand Angry Panthers" - Hathaway comes off 2009's "A Mouth Full of Dust" with some stamina to record a sweet little four track EP. And it is packed. In these four songs, he refines the best parts of "AMFOD" into something solid and lovely. From the opening folk guitar and violin of "She was Raised by a Man with a Sickness," I get wrapped into his verses, rhyming the heartbreaking stories of broken people seeking salvation and love and belonging. EP closer "The World Is Screaming" is the icing on the cake, and Hathaway gets angsty and frustrated with a marching rhythm and pulsing strings.

5.) Geology - "Three Birds EP" - Greg Jehanian comes back on the scene with his bedroom recordings on this five song EP. Known mostly for his bass playing for the rock outfit mewithoutYou, Jehanian holds his own on this his second solo release under the Geology moniker. And like his self-titled debut, this EP brims with folk indie ditties and lyrics about nature, living things, and God. It is simple and meaningful and quaint. The recording quality isn't top-notch, but for me, that adds to the pastoral appeal of Geology. I particularly enjoy the retelling of the biblical Road to Emmaus story found in "Why Look For The Living Among The Dead?"


Brandon Boyd - "The Wild Trapeze" - Sorry to say it, but this disjointed solo album by Incubus front man Brandon Boyd is weak and unappealing. The musical talent of the one man leaves something much to be desired while the lyrics are rather dull and unoriginal. Maybe my expectations were too high, as I revel in most of Incubus's discography. But, stick with Incubus, my friend. Mike, Jose, Ben, and Kil won't steer you wrong.

Arcade Fire - "The Suburbs" - 11th on Pitchfork's Albums of 2010?! Topping or ranking highly on MANY other music bloggers' lists for best music of the year?! WTF. I know I'll get plenty of guff for this, but are we listening to the same record??? I feel like this is one of those bandwagon records where someone says it's awesome and then other critics buy into it and become sheep to the music. Secretly no one really likes it, but just says it at risk of being shunned into the sixth realm of hipster hell. And yes, I have listened to it several times through, giving it time to seep in, hoping it would change my mind. It hasn't. It's boring. I'm gonna go listen to "The Funeral" when Arcade Fire made me happy and not sleepy.

Not TRULY Original Albums but Worth Noting

Girl Talk - All Day - Sick mixing, clean transitions, and superbly fantastic mash-ups for Gregg Gillis. It is fun, danceable as hell, and just GOOD from start to finish! It is all one track by the way. Who does that??? While it can be argued as to whether this is "original" music or not, I am putting it here solely based on the fact that he technically wrote nothing on the album and could not have made it without The Jackson Five, Jay-Z, 2Pac, B.o.B., Beastie Boys, Lil Jon, MGMT, Third Eye Blind... Anyway, thank you Girl Talk, for keeping my toes tapping and head bobbing.

Streetlight Manifesto - 99 Songs of Revolution: Volume 1 - Again, nothing on this album was officially written by Tomas Kalnoky and his band of ska miscreants, except maybe some horn lines and arrangement. And they are wonderful. This album of all covers is very catchy. I love hearing songs that I already know transformed into something completely new, or redone in a different style. And what better than a ska-punk rendition of The Postal Service's "Such Great Heights" (with an awesome trumpet intro) or Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." Oh what fun!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The frog

I cannot put pen to paper without writing something false.
My innermost being
my deepest woven fibers are ingrained with
Simple Utter Wrongness.
So what do I do to rise above?
What security do I cling to pull higher, to gain clarity?

I slam my body to the ground
prostrate and vulnerable.
In opposite of what I my intentions seem to say
In need of truth and wholeness.

But I cannot write about it.

Untouchable You are.
To define You is to undefine You
To write You down, a disservice,
a claim of haughty and righteous proportions

A dissected frog, push pinned in the pan,
labeled and hindered cannot stand.
We scalpel you open and name the parts with words
words word words
But nothing true.
Jump free and mend yourself from the broken splayed ribs and spilled intestines

Can we ever know everything there is to know?
To try is to fail, but do we persist?

You are only good.

But even that is only attributed from my blurry blindness,
when positivity suits the character of God like a glove.
Otherwise, forget it.

Vengeful, accursing, jealous
just, far, and other You are.
But what can I say about You?
Everything I know just is not true.

My claims are weak, accusations amiss.
Show me something completely and wholly different.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On Seeing

You part my lips like the seas and make melodies spill forth
A deluge of notes, strung together with plan and purpose
Not my own but something other and beyond

Far out past the gaze of telescopes
You take me there.
Showing me creation
From a place of love and gaze of holiness

I sing of the greatest story ever told, with betrayal, sacrifice, and hope
Ever so much hope

And when that time comes of Your choosing that I sing no more
You close my mouth with soft fingers and gently envelop me into You
Your embrace overcomes my fears
and we are finally together


So Facebook does a major disservice to picture viewing, especially when it comes to the hi-res panorama shots that I put together. Here they are in all their megapixel glory! From the past several years...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Literary "To-Do" List: Summer 2010 Edition

The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson*
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
What is the What by Dave Eggers
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold*
Out of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis
Perelandra by C.S. Lewis
That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis
Green Revolution by Ben Lowe
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Cannery Row by John Steinbeck
The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
Memoirs by Elie Weisel

*Have previously read completely or portions.

Looks like I have some work to do...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Everything falls apart, as the old saying goes.
We build, we crash
we ally, we disband
we contain, we diverge
we destory, we destroy, we destroy

And not just us, but our mother
She unleashes fury to crack our roads
split the trees
erode the land
and everything fills up with entropy
or dispels entropy
however you want to look at it

things do not stay
they change and move
and wreck
Dilapidated. Withered.

Our bodies grow old
fall apart, wrinkled and diseased.
We sag, gravity wins.
Dry hands, stretched and worn.
Years of work in a grip or a touch.

Nothing created. Nothing lost.
A cycle of dissolution, forever and ever,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring has sprung. It is good.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Top Ten Albums of 2009: Part II

Here we are, picking up right where we left off. So without further ado, here are my personal top five albums of 2009!

5.) "Heaven & Earth" by Phil Wickham 

Phil Wickham first crossed my radar freshman year of college. I dismissed him as just another Christian singer with an acoustic guitar. Well, since then, his worship-packed songs have truly grown on me, and I can say with confidence that between the free live singalong album released last year and this year's "Heaven & Earth," I am a fan. The production quality is top-notch and his songwriting skills have only improved. The album feels very whole, as well, drawing upon reoccurring themes of the expanse between heaven and earth, how far man has fallen since creation, how Christ crossed the barrier to save us, and just how desperately Wickham wants to get back with God, "naked and unashamed in a sweet downpour of innocent rain" (from Eden). Even the almost-hoedown call to arms of "The Time Is Now" works, while songs don't get much more jubilant than "In Your City."

4.) "Curse Your Branches" by David Bazan 

Switching gears entirely from #5, "Curse Your Branches" is the yearnings of an agnostic singer/songwriter who once lead the Christian alt outfit Pedro the Lion. David Bazan, now an older, more introverted man, husband, and father, has stumbled into a place of faith confusion. He articulates the questions he has for his creator beautifully and unflinchingly, making a first time listener ask themselves, "Did he really just say that?" The album is an unbarred look into a soul searching for something true, something real, amidst a lot of confusion. He takes it out on church leadership, his parents, the creation story, and God Himself on many occasions, not in an angry or upset way, but in a way that is eloquent and quite intelligent. He echos many of my own conundrums of belief with passion and precise musicianship. His vocals and multi-instrument recordings add dense layers to otherwise simple song structures, making "Curse Your Branches" something in and of itself, something entirely true.

3.) "it's all crazy! it's all false! it's all a dream! it's alright" by mewithoutYou

2009 brought my favorite band's fourth full length with "it's all crazy!..." and these Philadelphia natives chose to write with a completely new pen, so to speak. This album is chock full of story driven songs, analogies with fruits and vegetables, and character vignettes from a band trying something very different. Aaron's shout-singing is all but gone, replaced with melodic singing. Even the guitar and drum work is stripped down from previous releases, allowing lesser instruments like shakers, hand drums, and piano take the limelight. Watching mwY progress from album to album has thus far paralleled much of their spiritual transformation too. With the epic scope and denial of self in 2006's "Brother Sister," this new album is full of upbeat songs, more in the vein of praise and recognition of "what a beautiful God there must be" (from Timothy Hay).

2.) "Mean Everything to Nothing" by Manchester Orchestra

I've been reading lots of year end countdowns of albums on various blogs, and it is super lame how "forgetful" many of them are of Manchester Orchestra. MO released an absolutely killer new album, which was praised heavily when it was released, but has since been swept under the rug now that the album has taken off. Well, I'm here to recognize how powerful this record is, how precise and hard, how MO improved in all the best ways from their previous work in 2006. Every single song is a piece of rock songwriting mastery, catchy hooks, splashy drums, perfected breakdowns, harmonized guitar work, and vocals ranging from snarls and screams to whispers and whimpers. Andy Hull and co. deserve all the accolades and fame coming their way, pretentious "we-heard-them-first" naysayers be stricken.

1.) "Build Me This" by Joshua James

I do not recall the last time an album fully enthralled me, encapsulated a season in my life, or spoke words I wish I could say the way "Build Me This" has done for me this year, making it sit atop the rest as the BEST album of 2009. I cannot say enough good things about James and this record. It is joyful, tragic, jubilant, depressing, heavy, light, full-on, and reserved in ways that stir my soul. It is musical therapy to my innermost being and thoughts. The passion that James writes with is something I haven't heard in a long time, and his voice swells and cracks over elegant folk guitar, organ, and piano. The album pulls from backgrounds in traditional folk, hints of country, and gospel, meshing them together into a soulful and spiritual amalgamate. Listen to Joshua James, and go support this band! I cannot wait to see him in concert. I hear he puts on one heck of a show!

DOWNLOAD (One song from each album)

Well that's all folks! Here is to a joyful and musical 2010! Cheers.