MUSIC&web05 Sep 2017 11:01 am

It’s not Monday, though it may feel like it, and there isn’t a new episode due until next week at the earliest while the studio is relocated, but here I am trying to bridge the gap by holding these show notes until some time in the middle. Eventually, I may be posting things in between these updates, but for now, my writing efforts are primarily elsewhere. Anyway, this last episode was dubbed, “Bears and Beers” and it features another wide range of styles and topics. Enjoy…

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Album 1: Painted Ruins, by Grizzly Bear (8/18/17)
It’s hard to ignore a release from a band named Grizzly Bear, I guess. At least it caught my attention and piqued my curiosity this week in the midst of a lot of nothing. And I had no idea what to expect and I know nothing about them, so I’m just going to dive right in.

Even though, I wasn’t sure what to expect, I still had expectations and they certainly weren’t what I’m hearing on the opening track, WASTED ACRES. Very soft, subtle melodies, almost like a soundtrack, but it’s charming in its own way. A steadier rhythm here on MOURNING SOUND, but still somewhat muted, almost like a 90s new wave thing going on. I’d have to listen more carefully to figure out what the lyrics are talking about, but for now, it’s just a fun listen. FOUR CYPRESSES is the third song and it starts out almost like a sped up game of Pong. I’m pretty sure I like it. I’m glad I caved in to my curiosity.
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MUSIC&web23 Aug 2017 11:45 am

I didn’t see the podcast pop-up in the Stitcher feed until later than normal and then, there wasn’t a good time to post these notes while I was actually around to do it, so now, I’m writing up the show notes for episode 20 and thinking, “hmm… I should post last week’s notes.” And, through the miracle of future-dating posts… here we go…

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Album 1: Every Mile Mattered, by Nichole Nordeman (7/28/17)
I typically spare DNA the quiet albums – especially if they fall in the realm of CCM (no offense to fans of CCM). However, this is the first full album from Nordeman in 12 years, meaning she’s been out of the industry longer than some of the new faces have been out of diapers. Always exemplifying the balance between artistic and accommodating, she tells stories with each song, a canvas for lyrics that convey meaningful depth.

EVERY MILE MATTERED opens the album with a subtle piano refrain that leads into an immediate conversation designed to catch the listener up like two long-time friends reuniting over a cup of coffee (or tea). It all comes back so quickly. The sentimental journey continues with YOU’RE HERE and her vocal is just plain endearing. The chorus opens up a little into a catchy melody and rhythm that maintains a grip on youth and adulthood. And I know that the Digest won’t get far enough into DEAR ME to fully capture the marvel of this song construction, but I’ll encourage you to go back and take a listen to the entire song because it’s quite a moving experience (I’ve gotten goosebumps every time I’ve listened so far). Like what MercyMe attempted with DEAR YOUNGER ME, except that it’s done so. much. better. It’s like she never left.
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MUSIC&web10 Aug 2017 02:43 pm

I missed the live show yet again, but just finished up the podcast and I was a little surprised by some of the reactions – and I was surprised by this week’s “winner”. That’s part of what makes this fun. Not every album is going to be a hit and, fortunately, not all of them will be misses. That’s why I try to pick albums and songs that are distinct – that’s where the voting comes in.

I suppose it might be helpful to explain that, while they are hearing the music for the first time on the show, I listen a few times before making the selections – and sometimes first impressions do not prevail. Anyway, I write a lot below so I don’t have to write a lot here… So let’s just dive into the show notes.

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Album 1: Revival, by Third Day (8/4/17)
If I have to be the first to say it, let me say it as loudly and clearly as possible: I’m so tired of hearing how Third Day is going “back to their roots” every time they release a new album. It’s been so long since the early days of Third Day – you know, when their sound was still kind of fresh, new, and unaffected by the yearn for a better bottom line. That was so long ago that it really doesn’t matter anymore if they DO go back to their roots because it’s as stale as a bag of cheetos that has been sitting around in a dorm room all semester. It’s time for a new bag of chips and REVIVAL is that chance to crack open a… aw, never mind, it says this is a “return to their roots.”
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MUSIC&pop culture&web07 Aug 2017 12:46 pm

In case you don’t know, I am “producing” a weekly podcast covering music. Don’t worry, I’m not talking or anything – the dynamic duo of Aaron and Denee’ handle that. I just give them things to talk about. In an effort to cross-promote (or something that sounds social media conscious), I’m posting the show notes here.

Ideally, you’ll read them here, listen to them there, and really enjoy both experiences. I’m starting this week because… that’s it. Just because. Click the link below to listen to the show and read the text below for my thoughts. Simple, right? Here we go.

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Album 1: Wildfires, by Stephen Christian (7/28/2017)
Stephen Christian fronted the modern rock band, Anberlin, until they disbanded in 2014. He also launched a solo side project, Anchor and Braille, with a slightly mellower sound. Now he steps out again, moving from Tooth and Nail (home of some of CCM’s more controversial artists) to BEC Records (home to some of CCM’s more commercial acts). WILDFIRES is a solo album that serves as a worship project of sorts as Christian follows the footsteps of Aaron Gillespie. One can’t help but wonder if this is simply a sales grab.
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MUSIC13 Apr 2017 04:15 pm

This entry dates back about four and a half years ago, but I don’t think I ever posted it. I think it’s still kind of fun. I’m told people used to like what I wrote, you know, when I wrote. Maybe I’ll be inspired to do more… enjoy.

Quite honestly, as I’m typing this up, I haven’t the slightest idea what (or how many) songs will be on the upcoming release, WOW HITS 2013. I just saw it was coming out soon and thought, as I have many times over the years, “If only I could pick the songs for the WOW Hits Collections.” (I suspect you’ve had similar thoughts.) In the interest of full disclosure (aside from not looking at the track list), I’ve stopped taking notice of the annual (or more frequent) releases of this series. I remember the very first edition and I believe I was a faithful consumer through 2001 or 2002, but I’ve not purchased an installment in quite some time. Further, my awareness of what is and isn’t a radio single remains very limited. I have listened to more Christian radio in the last few years than most of the rest of my life, but more as background noise to drown out the sounds of my car falling apart as I drive to and from sporting or musical events with the littles.

And finally, I am pretty sure the official list has some label-related restrictions, but I don’t pay the closest attention to who holds ownership rights over which label, either, so I’ve opened it up to all releases. All that to say, I’m probably not coming from the same place as the folks who compiled the official WOW Hits 2013 album. And I’m not knocking them, or their choices, I’m just explaining that I anticipate a bit of disparity between my list and theirs.

So how did I come up with my choices? I’m glad you asked. First, I went back about a year from now and scoured through the list of releases between 9/1/11 and today. In some cases, I looked a few weeks ahead, but mostly, I stuck to that date range. [continue reading this post…]

Bookshelf28 Oct 2016 04:23 pm

Well, I’ve stewed on this book long enough – and please don’t take that to mean that this is a book of any substance that requires any amount of time to ruminate on or ponder or process. No, it’s more that I needed time to prevent having two rather negative reviews back-to-back. I know, technically, they are back to back, but I dragged my feet long enough and distracted you with The Afters and Ryan Lochte, so…

The Newsmakers – Lis Wiehl

I’m going to try not to indulge my desire to launch into a diatribe and instead just punch in on the high level blemishes that irritated me about the book. Then we can move on.

First, I’ve never (to my knowledge) done this before, but I felt compelled to write down a handful of predictions based on the first 2-3 chapters. These are things that I knew full well would happen by the end of the book because Wiehl all but broadcasts the entire series of events from the beginning of the book. This is something I expect (and get) regularly from Hallmark movies, but for some reason, it’s WAY more annoying in a book. Probably in part because of the investment of time in reading a book versus watching a movie, but I think it extends beyond that in that the writing just wasn’t very good. [continue reading this post…]

features&front page&MUSIC22 Sep 2016 03:06 pm

As I looked at the music releases of the past couple months, I noticed a trend: Most of these groups/artists had popular releases ten years ago. That either speaks to enduring artistry or a lack of creativity within the industry. Either way, this inspired me to take a closer look at this situation, since, ten years ago, I was much more a part of the music scene.

theTRu_presentsI’m going to pit these albums (the old vs. the new) against each other, track-by-track, reminisce, and see how these groups are holding up through the years. This will probably end up being a little longer than most blog readers can hold their attention for, so if you REALLY NEED to, you can skip down below and peek at the bottom line. I will try to entertain you the entire time, though.

The first group I’ll take a gander at is THE AFTERS and we’ll compare their label debut album, I WISH WE ALL COULD WIN (10 Tracks, 41 minutes), to their latest release, LIVE ON FOREVER (10 tracks, 36 minutes). I know, technically speaking, WISH came out in 2005, but it was really thriving in 2006 so I’m counting it. As you can see from the stats, they both have 10 tracks, though FOREVER weighs in at 5 minutes lighter. Let’s go ahead and dig into the tracks…
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general&pop culture&SPORTS25 Aug 2016 03:36 pm

Swimming is a sport of grace and mechanics. It’s won with speed, but that speed hinges on proper technique, specific body position, and controlled bursts of strength. When done properly, there aren’t many more events as spectacular to watch as eight swimmers, stride-for-stride, straining towards the wall simultaneously, each with the overwhelming desire to get there first.

Many age group swimmers (those typically under the age of 15) get frustrated by the nuances of each stroke and try to find “faster” ways to move through the water – and some succeed, but only for a time. Eventually, form triumphs and these swimmers learn what many before have already come to grips with: speed is a by-product of proper technique. Not only does following the guidelines of technique result in faster swims, deviating from said form could result in a disqualification.

Journalists have a lot in common with swimmers in this regard. Their techniques have been well explained over the years. Follow a hunch, look for evidence, research, find sources, verify, verify, verify. Unfortunately, many in the field today only care about speed. Headlines are primary. Details are secondary. Accuracy is a luxury. Shape the story before it’s a story. Why verify when you can vilify? And most unfortunate: there are no DQ’s in journalism.

Speed was certainly the key to the recent “Lochte Four” stories breaking from Rio last week. Initially, everyone was sympathetic towards Ryan Lochte, Jimmy Feigen, Jack Conger, and Gunnar Bentz. It was a cut and dry emotional piece about the dangers of competing internationally – a close call for four of America’s Olympic swimmers.
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Bookshelf&SPORTS05 Aug 2016 03:59 pm

Long overdue, I know. I really need to work on updating more and I really need to stop saying that I really need to start working on it and I… well, you get the idea. Today, the 2016 Olympics officially kicks off. So this review is incredibly timely. Almost like I planned it. If only.

Anyway, We’ll start with a conversation I completely made up in my head…

Swimming with Faith: The Missy Franklin Story – Natalie Davis Miller

“Hey, the Olympics is coming up, we need a book about someone who will be competing.”
“How about that swimmer girl who smiles a lot and won some medals and is famous. Missy something.”
“Do you know anything about swimming?”
“No, but I read some newspaper articles about her and I follow her on Twitter.”
“Cool.”
“Should I set up an interview?”
“Nah, just use what’s on the web”
“Okay, I don’t have much, though”
“That’s okay, we’ll make it a kids book so it can be short.”
“Should I fact check any of these stats?”
“Nah, it’s just numbers, we need to get this published so we can sell it before it’s too late.”

That’s how I imagine the conversation went when Zondervan decided to have Natalie Davis Miller write this “biography” of Missy Franklin.
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Bookshelf12 May 2016 02:55 pm

NOW PLAYING: The Comeback Kid – b.reith

First off, I debated on which song to choose for a while because, honestly, I can’t hear the word “comeback” without thinking of LL Cool J’s classic hit, “Mama Said Knock You Out.” In fact, I just got distracted by writing that and had to go listen to it before I could continue. However, I did go with the b.reith song for a couple reasons I’ll get to later. Before that, it’s time for a book review.

The Comeback – Louis Giglio

Louie Giglio is well known in Christian circles (and there was that nasty little thing was the President’s prayer breakfast). You could say he’s been here for years, but then you might get side tracked again, so I wouldn’t recommend that. Anyway, he is known primarily for his role within the Passion movement, the genesis of which he actually recounts at the beginning of this book, and his public speaking engagements. THE COMEBACK captures one such teaching series and small group study topic on page.

Giglio reminds us that the primary storyline of all our lives is one of redemption. God is calling us back to Him and it’s up to us to accept his offer of grace and restoration. Weaving numbers of personal anecdotes and Biblical accounts into his message, Giglio connects with the reader on an emotional level and drives home his point. [continue reading this post…]

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