Sunday, December 30, 2007

Anyone Else But You

It's been a whirl wind of a vacation or coming home. I don't know if you can really do both because there seems to be a lacking of usual vacation activities, sand, snorkels, or skis. I did see some snow but that didn't last really long. Being home means a queen sized bed, food that you don't have to pay for, and relatives that ask a lot of questions and mine seem to really want to know the answers. It also means seeing the friends who established your understanding of what makes a friend and what a friendship is supposed to look like.

With that said Christmas evening my best friend since seventh grade (I used to listen to him play Nirvana covers on his guitar during homeroom). We decided that it would be the night that Juno should be watched. Licorice in tow I was on it. Getting there late and only paying $8 to get it and having to sit in the third row, we entered the world of Juno.

Things I Loved about this movie:
1. Ellen Page and Michael Cera are amazing in this film. They are witty, funny, awkward, and nothing shy from being 16.
2. The dialogue is sharp and it seemed that the kids were farther away from Dawson's Creek than most teenage dialogue.
3. The soundtrack couldn't be more perfect to the film. It's like the songs were made for the movie, though farther research it seemed it was found after the movie was shot.
4. It's sweet and charming.
5. Tic Tacs
6. I loved the ending where it reminded me that love is a choice. You choice the person you are with and you choice how you treat the other person and how they are let into your life.
7. My two favorite Television shows have made appearances in which they come to life in new ways.

What I didn't like:

1. Nothing.

Overall the movie is a lovely little guy that has you chuckling and laughing and hoping that you make choices in your life, good or bad, that you can come to the end with and put a smile on your face. Honestly the soundtrack is SO amazing. It's calming and beautiful. Acoustic songs that have a lot of body rather than being sparse and sappy. I loved it. I hope you get to see it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

My ears 2007

I think it is pretty much a tradition that I get some sort of gift card that will inevitably draw my attention to the Itunes store. I love the fact that people realize that this is something that I will like and enjoy and know that will be used pretty instantaneously. It made me sit back and relax and spend hours looking at new records and deciding what will be the newest additions to the Itunes library. I enjoy music and the complexities of sounds and moods. I realized today that I really do love stripped down sounds. Something without a lot of layers, fuss, and commotion. I want a lot and I know where I need to head to next to continue building the library that I so want.

I looked through the lists and realized there was a lot of records that I liked this year or was reintroduced to. I spent the summer diving into the Sonic Youth catalogue. I have been getting into noise rock and specifically the work of Jim O'Rourke and wanted to know the roots of such a sound. Who better than Sonic Youth to teach you so. I love the depth of this band but I also realized how some of their records sound very similar but I also realized that I want Kim Gordon to be my best friend.

I spent some time this last month listening to hardcore and metal. I guess I lose myself in the music and feel like I can just let it go when I sit back and let the music take my anger. I paint really well when I am listening to hardcore. Maybe it's because I can't hear the lyrics to well or the double bass pedal is calling my name. I don't know what it is but it makes me happy and calm even though it's all up in my face. I resurrected some old friends Anah Aevia and Every time I Die. I also found myself immersed in Affinity, You and I, Snapcase, and Maylene and the Sons of Disaster. Is the music good? Technically good but it's a hell of a lot of fun.

I got my hands on the We are Scientists record, With Love or Squalor. Wow. I was leary about it at first but then there was a little song that was put on repeat for about two weeks. It's so FUN. I like dance/new wave. There was a lot of talk this year about dance/electronic stuff (how could you not see a list this year without M.I.A, Justice, LCD Soundsystem, or Burial. I like these because they are fun but at the end of the day it's not what does it for me. I like rock, alt-rock, indie-rock, americana, or hip hop. I think coming back to the We are Scientist record is fun for me, in a different way that hardcore is, this gets me on the balls of my feet and shake my booty. I like sassy drums and this does it for me.

There were some great Hip Hop records that I really enjoyed this year. My friend Henry turned me on to Brother Ali. An albino rapper with muslim roots. It's interesting beats and smart lyrics put a smile on my face. I also really really enjoyed El-P's record. I think this came our late last year and I really enjoy it, it's so smart and the mash ups are really worth sitting back and realizing what he did with the songs. I also got my hands on Jay-Z's mellow soul/rap record, American Justice. I was surprised and taken a bit aback by what was on the record. There is not one song that is all in your face or make you want to bounce the shoulders, but it's a classy record. Just like J.

This year I want to take the time and get to know the LA scene a little bit better. It's a huge one and there is always something going on. I hope to find more music and dive head in to new sounds or old sounds remade to sound new. I love music....

Sunday, December 23, 2007


I returned back to the Detroit area for a bit of Christmas festivities as well as celebrating the fact that my twin sister is engaged and getting married in October. I was excited to be back but I didn't realize how safe I would feel now that I am back. It's nice to be surrounded people who really know you and love you even despite your crazy new ideas or schemes. It has been an interesting few days being shuffled around, seeing friends who are like family, seeing children's eyes light up with the thought of Santa, the twinkling lights off a woman's jacket on stage at the church where you first saw what Christ could do with your life, sitting at a party surrounded with people who once knew you better than yourself and now talking jobs, babies, and marriage. Life is interesting once you have your high school prom. It seems as if they groom you for that day and then say well we did our part....

It reminded me of the movie Garden State so I found the best couple of lines from the film:

Andrew Largeman: You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn't really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some place where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.

Sam: I still feel at home in my house.

Andrew Largeman: You'll see when you move out it just sort of happens one day one day and it's just gone. And you can never get it back. It's like you get homesick for a place that doesn't exist. I mean it's like this rite of passage, you know. You won't have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it's like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that's all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.

I used to really believe this and buy into the thought but I really do have an amazing family that really has moved past who we were, maybe it's that I have finally grown up a bit, or maybe it's that we know that there is another home for you someplace else. I don't know what it all means but I do know that I saw the snow lightly falling through the light beams of my parents Jeep as I drove through quiet streets, some moments the only driver on that lowly stretch of land. It's rare when that happens. I don't know what went through my head but I wanted to hear a song about snow and there it was, Harry Connick Jr. reminding me that he wanted to snuggle by the fire with the one he loved as he declares, "Let It Snow."'s still soft moments remind me that life is often hard and overwhelming but then there are the moments that are good and remind you what it's all about. Life sometimes can surprise you and today it did....for the good. So I will listen to the wind blow the cold snowy air and remember what it was like to be a kid living in metro Detroit and smile because it was lovely.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Top Ten Records of 2007

I have been thinking of this list for about three weeks now. I have talked, pondered, wondered, rated, and debated about this list. I think it is something not only do I like but have been thinking about this since about March. I have been trying to keep records to the side thinking, 'this is something that will be worth talking about now but also again in December.' It's something of a work of passion. I don't know where my life would be without music...

#10...Panda Bear "Person Pitch"
Brian Wilson's Smile or Pet Sounds fusing together with smart electronic manipulation. Count me in. If you have not hear Deerhoof or Animal Collective this might be a tough record to start with but let me say it is worth the time and energy to understand the tones and textures that surround the record. It's smart and beautiful, somewhat awkward at times but that's what I like about it.

#9...Band of Horses "Cease to Begin"
Not the best record in the world but it had me listening over and over again to some of the tracks that lyrically are so simple. I like a record that reminds me of simple truths like 'the world is a wonderful place' and 'no one is gonna love you more than I do.' Maybe I just want these things in my life so when tight guitar rock tells me that I need to look you in the eye when I walk down the street I want to remember to do that. The record reminds me of my humanity and what we all need.

#8... Explosions in the Sky "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone"
This band has some of the most beautiful instrumental builds that transport your feelings and desires in only a way that beautiful music can. The cover art and song titles make me feel like I need to rest in the arms of strangers as well as friends. Beautiful and haunting because you need to insert yourself into understanding the emotion. You end up finding about things in the process and see the journey that the music can only tell.

#7 Iron and Wine "The Shepherds Dog"
Oh so good and oh so beautiful. I think at this point I understand why I love Americana and Folk music. There is something about Sam Beam that knows how to write a story and convey it so beautifully. The music is maturing and new ideas and formulas for songs seem to be apparent. It's almost like his voice lulls you to sleep through telling you haunted stories. The layers in the album are thick that lends a hand to making the record that much more beautiful.

#6...The National "Boxer."
The album is good from beginning to end. Paste Magazine has put it as #1, Harp Magazine as #21 for there record reviews. There is no clear consensus on the record to be honest. It's sharp, fun, distinctive. It has a clear throw back to 80s (non-dance) nu wave but a clear direction for it being 2007. I like it. My favorite tracks are Green Gloves and Fake Empire. Strong tracks worth being downloaded.

#5 Kanye West "Graduation."
Gosh this record is so smooth and soulful. I think at first people didn't know what to do with because there was no beat-filled super pop song. The album is strong from beginning to end with great songs like "Good Morning" and "Stronger." The beats are taken from 70s soul and used well to enhance the strong lyrics. I love Kanye. I am glad he is so eclectic and he does what he wants. I am sad about his mom....

#4... Feist "The Reminder."
I can't tell you how many times this record has been played in my home, my car, or my Ipod. There is such an array of emotions that many artists don't know how to touch or even accomplish. She seems like such a strong woman and the music is sad and then makes you laugh. I know that 1 2 3 4 is EVERYWHERE but it's just the tip of the iceberg of what the record contains. From soulful ballads to shaking your shoulders indie pop. Solid record from start to finish.

#3... Ryan Adams "Easy Tiger"
Since I bought the record it hasn't stopped playing. I think this may be Ryan Adams strongest record to date. It's solid, lyrically tight, and musically strong and connected. You can tell he has taken his experiences of past drug/alcohol use to technically good use. A strong note of the past with how you make amends with the the music is so so good. There is something that is incomplete for him and I am interested to see how he continues to write and work with his backing band, The Cardinals.

#2... Radiohead "In Rainbows"
The most accessible record since The Bends. The songs are so simple but so fresh and resonate with me from beginning to end. I am always a bit sad when the record reaches to track ten because I know it's over. I had a fantastic conversation about this record with my friend Wess about how we will talk abut how good this record is but how this band single handed change how we use our money to place value on music. That has to propel the record higher on the list....and it did. Simple and gorgeous. How could you go wrong?

#1...Wilco "Sky Blue Sky"
I LOVE this record. I love it's laid back attitude. There is a feel to this record that has never been on any Wilco record before. There is a feel like things are coming together and things are going to be okay. There is a hope on this record that seemed far from close in A Ghost Was Born. This is my favorite band of all time and to be honest there was a day or so that I didn't think it was going to make it as number one but then I realized that it needed to be because of the strength and clarity it possesses. It's sad that people were disappointed that it wasn't more experimental but why would you want to box a band in? That's why most bands can't put out more than a couple of records. They are forced to stay in a space that they got there in the first place but can't move on. I love Wilco because they explore and take chances. This record is so beautiful. just like the cover art, there seems to be a sense of wonder but also the need of another. It's tight, well made, well recorded, solid. The beginning track of 'Either Way' and concluding with 'On and On and On' are like the perfect bookends of love and relationships. Please buy this record if you haven't yet.

So there it is. Let me know what you think or what your Top 10 is....
soon will be more lists because they are fun and I can avoid doing the things I should be sleep.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Sacred and the Secular

The past five days I haven't been to far attached from my computer. I spent the days writing and wrestling with the topic of the sacred and the secular. Something that I always knew was silly and selfish but I took the quarter and did some reading on it. I finished just moments and I feel good about it. I feel like the writing is pretty strong and I feel like I believe and relate to everything I have written. If you would like to read it you can HERE.

So of course that is about all I will say in regards to this topic but I will talk about music because that is about all I did when I wrote the little paper.....well big paper it is about 15 pages. I made a mix I entitled..."A mix to write a Paper to..."
So here it is:

Christmas Time is Here (Vince Guaraldi) seems to be my theme song as of late
No one is gonna love you (band of horses)
Lousy Reputation (we are scientists)
green gloves (the national)
One True Vine (Wilco--Sky Blue Sky Ep)
Homecoming (Kanye West)
You are Not Alone (Patty Griffin)
First Day of My Life (Bright Eyes)
True Love Waits (Radiohead)
I Taught Myself to Grow Old (Ryan Adams)
Impossible Germany (Wilco)
Ode to the Lrc (band of horses)
1 2 3 4 (Feist)
Sunken Treasure (Jeff Tweedy)
The Sun Also Sets (Ryan Adams)
Lord Leopard (Caribou)
Wonderwall (Ryan Adams)
That Right Ain't Shit (The Books)

So there it is...I put that on shuffle and repeat and just write. I think I listened to at least ten times by now. I would add songs as I would get bored and this is the final list. I love it.

In the next couple of days I should have my top 10 of 2007. It's frickin great...some debatable records or placement...You can debate me because I want to know what you until then enjoy the last few days before Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Conversation with Relevant Magazine

Throughout this quarter I was able to take a Directed Study with Professor, Rob Johnston, about the topic and conversation of the sacred and the secular. I have been putting off the research for sometime in the last couple of weeks. I have felt stuck and didn't know where to go with my reading or my research on the topic. Today I have finally sat down and tried to gather my thoughts. It's hard some days to write a formal paper because I have become a blog writer and to write academically takes a bit of my spunk and sass away.

Throughout the years I have become a dropout of Evangelical Christianity and if I had to put a qualifier around my faith I have found the most connection with the anabaptists (non-violent, communal, peaceful, and freedom). I think about who I am and who I have become in the last years and I have found a lot of joy with my new language to my faith so attacking a conversation with the sacred and secular has been not an easy task but I have come with a new language and have found hope and a future with my analysis as well as courage to speak on an issue that is quite taboo with evangelical Christianity.

To be a part of an Evangelical subculture for some time I have come across a magazine called Relevant. There aim is for twenty something Christians to break stereotypes and encounter culture through a Christian perspective....or so I thought. I made a phone call this morning and talked with a woman at the magazine who helped answer questions regarding their magazine as well as their aims of the magazine.

I had questions regarding their music reviews. In the magazine there are three qualifiers there critique; music, lyrics, and spirituality. Many issues ago they reviewed Explosions in the Sky's "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone". It is an instrumental record that is utterly beautiful, something that builds and bursts, and has been used frequently on Friday Night Lights (movie as well as television show). the review their critique said the spirituality was N/A. Which for me begged the question what makes something spiritual? Does Jesus have to die on the cross or is the issue tug on the heart and challenge or affirm our own understanding of spiritual?

On the phone call I asked what makes something spiritual? Something bigger than ourselves was my reply. I was also given the understanding (which to be honest shocked me) that they were a 'secular' magazine that talked about God and faith. Well it's interesting to me (as well as something I talked about on the phone) that it's hard for me to believe that when they don't talk about any other faith other than Christianity as well as the advertising is specifically Christian (christian Universities and Seminaries, youth group promotions, Christian companies). It boggles the mind a little bit that it would be anything but secular and again begs a new definition.

My question is what is your qualifier for spirituality? Is their a qualifier? Is the divide even necessary anymore? In the next week this is my quest. To ask these questions, not to come to anyone conclusion, but maybe look and see the damage a division can do or how it may help others see and qualify their faith.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Letting Christmas be Christmas

I remember last year trying very hard to avoid christmas carols, decorating trees or cookies, setting up lights, or be in a ‘christmas like’ spirit. I don’t know what’s different this year, maybe this blog, but I have allowed Christmas to be Christmas. I am trying to remember the beauty of the season, to be with family, to watch children tear into the presents, and to sip wine under the Christmas lights.

I love that I walked by the neighboring apartment doors on Friday, one group of friends was setting up the Christmas tree, while another neighbor was entertaining friends and laughter pouring from the cracks in the door. As I walked through the Target parking lot to purchase tools to make my gifts for others I saw Christmas trees tied to roofs of cars. My imagination saw the little familes inside buying lights and this years ornament to place on the tree together. The family didn’t have to be perfect but I knew that whatever it was I was hoping that it was working, even for just a moment.

I am seeing with new eyes this Advent season. I see the meaning of the community and hope and a chance to take a deep breath and remember that it this time is now…and it’s all happening.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Milk of Human Kindness

I love to share music and I love getting music. I love going to record stores and just putting my hands over the used vinyl, looking through the shiny cellophane to gaze deeply into the minds of new friends or new ideas. I love music, music magazines, and all things having to do with music. Somewhere in the last month I shuffled around some music from my external hard drive to my itunes and found music that I hadn't heard in a long time and music that I never realized was in my little guy....

What I found was Caribou's "the Milk of Human Kindness' a record that received a lot of great reviews when it came out in 2005. It is a great electronic record fused with 60s folk and some 70s sole. It's smart, eclectic, moving and really great to listen to. I think there is a great variety on the record. At the heart of my liking of music I like records that share a story, have a start and a finish, that in some ways it is a cohesive unit even if explores concepts throughout the record it comes back together. This record is not like that and I still really love how it is all over the place. I like all the layers and the different feelings the record really portrays. It's all over the place but really something I keep going back to. Sometimes there are vocals and sometimes there are just some really great beats being laid down. Love it.

The song, Lord Leopard, is my favorite. It reminds me of the dance sequence parts of bad teen movies (Save the Last Dance or Center Stage, things i hate to love but I do). It should be in a film if it isn't already. I think the song gives me energy every time I hear it. I found a video of the song you should watch it, it is so sweet and kind. Of course it is! Those are the things in life I find myself attracted to. The simple beauties and the simple wonders. Go and download this record, seriously do it, it's so worth it. If you are into this record then take the chance and get the new record, Andorra, seems to have a lot more lyrics then this one but it should be a good one as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Simple Beauty.

the last couple of weeks have been tough. They at moments are overwhelming and make you sit back and say…huh? I want to move from that space and I wanted to see with new eyes. Today, just for a moment, I remembered how life really can be beautiful…

Someone on the 134 freeway blew up a surgical glove so that it would be a balloon.
let it go.
and as the cars zoomed by it danced in the wind.

At the moment where my car collided with it, the song on my ipod ended and Joanna Newsom’s Bridges and Balloons began to play.
and I smiled,
with my sunglasses on,
the windows rolled down,
and the forgotten sun streaming through my windows,
the hair on my head blowing in the wind.

and I remembered that the simple beauties in life make my heart jump
and I think someone knew that same truth
and blew up the glove.

…lyrics to the song, Bridges and Balloons.
We sailed away on a winter’s day
with fate as malleable as clay;
but ships are fallible, I say,
and the nautical, like all things, fades

And I can recall our caravel:
a little wicker beetle shell
with four fine maste and lateen sails,
its bearings on Cair Paravel

O my love,
O it was a funny little thing
to be the ones to’ve seen.

The sight of bridges and balloons
makes calm canaries irritable;
they caw and claw all afternoon:
“Catenaries and dirigibles
brace and buoy the living-room –
a loom of metal, warp - woof - wimble.”
And a thimbles worth of milky moon
can touch hearts larger than a thimble.

O my love,
O is was a funny little thing
to be the ones to’ve seen

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cease to Begin

Before I make my list of best records of 2007 (which of course I am going to be doing) I wanted to comment on Cease to Begin, the new record from Band of Horses. The band started out a few years ago with their breakthrough Record, Everything All the Time, it received huge accolades and Best Record of the Year nods. Hailing from South Carolina and transplanting in Seattle the record was made and distributed through Sub Pop Records. To follow up the big release comes Cease to Begin, their sophomore release, and recording back in their hometown in South Carolina.

I struggle with this band from time to time. I think the riffs and melodies are pretty simple, yet the lyrics and the hooks are something that catches my ears and helps me coming back for more. I think this record is really pretty. It's lyrics include ideas about love and life, even admist the pain and the brokenness. The brokenness of life seems to be pretty adherant yet there seems to be some hope. Hope that there are other people and that the world, that is so often demonized, is actually a beautiful place. I think when I listen to this record I come away feeling hopeful that there is something bigger than me out there protecting and having me see with new eyes.

The album itself is pretty short, about nine songs, and towards the end a lot of the songs start to blend together. Yet there are two songs that I can't stop listening to. The first is "Ode to Lrc" that drops the chorus as:
The town is so small
How could anybody not
Look you in the eyes
The way that you drive by

The world is such a wonderful place
The world is such a wonderful...

Here is a video of the song:

I think I love music that reminds me that life is beautiful or it can be beautiful. That it tugs on some strings that reminds me that I am still alive and that I can have feelings and emotions, not be a robot or a perfected being. I think sometimes life and expectations turn you dull but hearing a record like this one, even for the first three songs, is worth the download. Will this record be on my Top 10...I'm not sure but there is something beautiful about someone singing "No one is going to love you more than I do."

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Christmas Time is Here

I don't normally get excited about the holiday season. I think I like my life manageable and when the holidays come around I get overwhelmed and a bit stressed because the money is tight or this is needed or something falls apart. But this Christmas as everything is already deconstructing a bit I will try something new this holiday season. Consumerism overwhelms me so I am making presents this year and asking others to do the same. So today I will be cleaning my apartment, seeing what I have to dive into new projects and getting rid of the things that sit around and gather dust....

Sufjan is going to kick me into the new season with a reminder of how lovely it is to be with the ones you love and that I love and serve something outside of my control. Spirituality is a beautiful concept, some days it feels like work but this holiday season I want to see with new eyes. If you are also in the Christmas music spirit the Sufjan Christmas album is streaming live from this link. If you are not familiar with Sufjan I want to ask where have you been the last couple of years ( I am sure the stories must be interesting)? But in case you were fighting anaconda in the Amazon Sufjan Stevens is a musician originally from Michagan but has grand orchestral pieces mixed with quirky creative story telling in his lyrics. The music is beautiful and the stories capture you in still soft moments. Please do me the favor and listen, buy, and watch him. He is a true artist and a beautiful, awe-inspiring artist/musician. I love him.

This Christmas I want to see love and hope. I desire to see embrace and beauty. I love Christmas cookies, hot coffee, and late night conversations with lighting lit by the distant Christmas tree. I think that this Christmas will be a moment where I choose to see hope rather than consumerism to fill a need.

I rarely sing Christmas songs but this is one of my favorites and being in California in winter is hard when you know there is snow on the ground in the place where you grew enjoy. ... Chirstmas Time is Here.