August 2010


MUSIC&reviews30 Aug 2010 04:39 pm

okay, it’s time for another “make-up” Music of the Day entry… this one’s more recent, but still a little behind the times… i hope to have another entry up later this week (preferably tomorrow) covering the shiny happy releases from the 24th and 31st because i have a couple of those and have heard a couple more… and then it will look like i’ve caught up…

anyway, this time out, i’ve got some doozies from the latter weeks of July including some rawk music, as well as introspective splendor from a personal favorite… top that off with a couple debuts and cap it all with a surprise hit here at theTRu, which will receive a special little shout out… and that smells like one fantastic day of music… okay, off we go…

Ivoryline – Vessels

the first line of their bio reads… “Ivoryline has been inspired.”… that’s, um, interesting… i guess i’d hope that all band record based on inspiration… but that’s not what they’re talking about and i know this because “inspired” is one of those Christian code words… let me decode it for you… basically, it means that this album is expected to deal directly with the topic of faith… and indeed it does put things clearly and openly… but to be completely honest i don’t know if that’s a new approach for Ivoryline… i don’t even remember what their last album – something about a Lion – from two years ago sounded like or how “clear” or obtuse the lyrics were…

Either way, the album at hand, Vessels, borrows from the same Bible passage from which Jars of Clay took their name… that they have a message of great importance and that they are amazed that it was entrusted to such wounded “vessels” sets the stage for an album of honest and faith-filled lyrics… If you’re concerned about the safety of the lyrics, you can be at ease… if you’re concerned with the quality of music, you can also set your mind at ease… Ivoryline has crafted a nice poppy sound with a hearty dose of rock-tinged riffs along the lines of Anberlin… and now i’ve invested way too much in this quick review… bottom line… it sounds good and if you like the stylings of Anberlin and other modern rock, this is a good choice for you…

House of Heroes – Suburba

i’m always excited to hear what House of Heroes comes up with… if nothing else, i’m always guaranteed that at least five times on the album, Tim Skipper is going to blow me away with his vocal… Suburba doesn’t disappoint in the least and, upon first listen, it immediately jumped into contention for a top spot in my annual top albums list… for fans of rock music, the group brings the ballyhoo on tracks like Independence Day for a Petty Thief and Burn Me Down… however, there’s also a nice touch of harmonies on tracks like So Far Away, which reminds me of The Beach Boys melodically… all in all, it’s another fantastic album from a group that always impresses me…

Andrew Peterson – Counting Stars

Andrew Peterson has a storyteller’s heart… that much is obvious from his music… of course, he’s also written a couple of books and, i believe, is working on the third… but it takes all of fifteen seconds with him before he’s launching into a story of some sort… that’s just the way he expresses his creativity… and when it manifests itself in mellow, heartfelt music, the result is an album-based experience that is unparalleled… once again, he provides stunning visuals lyrically and frames each tale and metaphor with soothing, captivating melodies… give this album a listen and you’ll be swept away along a carefree journey from one man’s perspective as he uncovers the glory of God…

Runaway City – Armored Heart

Here’s a new group… and i’m assuming they’ve released this somewhat independently… i’m kind of at a loss thinking of who exactly to compare them to, but that’s not to say their sound is unique, just that the names of similar bands are escaping me… it’s not exactly polished like Creed, but it’s also not as rough-edged as a 12 Stones… but i think you get somewhat of an idea… production-wise somewhere in between the two… in regards to talent level, probably around that range… taken at face value… there are a couple of pretty good songs on here… i do like Longing and No Escape all right… oh, maybe Kutless?… anyway, it’s not a bad debut…

The Museum – Let Love Win

another newbie to the scene… The Museum looks like your typical Christian rock group complete with a name that starts with “The,” scruffy hair, and those army-style baseball caps… but beyond the ensemble lies a pretty smooth and enjoyable sound… there’s certainly a trendy worship element to the album, a la Above the Golden State and maybe The Longing… Especially on tracks like My Help Comes from the Lord and Allelujah, but they include both vertical and horizontal songs, which, i know falls into the Christian code words category again, but hey, it forms a cross… Anyway, the point is, Let Love In has songs for all occasions… some directed to God, some directed to all of us, for instance, Buy This, which explains that hope and redemption are free gifts and not something you can buy… i like this album and it actually made it onto my iPod…

And now for something completely different… i often check out full album streams on AOL because i don’t get albums as frequently as i used to and it’s pretty cool to see what else is out there from people i don’t get servicing from… sometimes… well, during the week of 27 July, i managed to stumble upon a full album stream of the self-titled release from J Roddy Walston and the Business… despite never having heard of them, i gave it a chance… and i listened to that stream no less than 20 times during the course of that week… very disappointing when it disappeared… now, i can’t necessarily vouch for the lyrical content – but i think it’s pretty clean – but i can most assuredly rave about the down home jam session quality of the music that i simply can’t get enough of… think Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Black Keys… and if you still don’t have a frame of reference, then i’ve now given you three bands worth checking out… seriously… i can listen to this album for hours on end… good, good stuff…

and that’s all for now folks… i hope to be back tomorrow or the next day to talk about the likes of Jeremy Camp, Israel Houghton, and Natalie Grant among others… we’ll see what i can do…

peace… love… bdg…

general26 Aug 2010 05:04 pm

Please note that i’m simply going for a sexy headline and that i don’t have anyone in particular in mind here. It’s just that, well, maybe i know some people who can use some good advice in this regard. And i’ve been working on some writing ideas that touch on similar themes… so here it is…

What to do when your boss sucks

Let’s be honest. People are the worst part of your job. The people you work with have a tremendous impact on whether or not you enjoy yourself each day. During the interview process, salary is negotiated and you get a general feel for what tasks will be required of you from day to day, but the people… that’s the real wildcard, am I right?

Further complicating this dilemma, studies show that the absolute worst offenders are most likely to get promoted to management positions. (I may have fabricated that study, but it often seems to be case). It may be a power hungry dictator-type personality or someone who simply doesn’t have a clue, but one way or another, they got promoted ahead of you. Now, not only do you have to figure out how to tolerate these coworkers, but you have to appease, respect, and report to them.

If you ever find yourself in this situation – and I think we all have at one point or another – you may wonder what to do about it. Well, most people will say to grin and bear it, or just simply deal with it. You can complain, argue, or stew about it if you really want to, but that will more than likely just make things worse. So below are seven practical steps to dealing with bad management in a productive and helpful way.

1. BREATHE: You are without a doubt in one of the most frustrating positions life has to offer. It’s easy to let that frustration take root and usurp your ability to focus. This only complicates matters and makes you more likely to say things you don’t mean or will quickly regret.

2. BE SLOW TO SPEAK: Words have a certain power to them. When you speak out quickly, chances are, you just said something you will regret (probably because you didn’t breathe first). This will deteriorate what little ground you have to stand on. Choose your words carefully and only speak when necessary. This goes double for any written communication. Don’t send that fiery email on its way. In fact, don’t even type it up. That “send” button is just too, too tempting.

3. FIND THE BIG PICTURE: Ripples always start somewhere and it’s often safe to assume the turbulence you’re currently experiencing has more to do with something beyond your day-to-day line of sight. Look at the forest instead of the trees. What does that mean? Try to understand the root cause of your frustrations. It may be your manager, but it also may be something else. It may also be a fleeting problem that will disappear in time.

4. FIND THE SMALL PICTURE: Make sure you (and others) understand your place in the scenery. Find your boundaries and fill them out. Later, you can worry about extending them, but for now, understand where you belong and what belongs to you. It’s easy to complain, but if you complain enough about other people instead of fulfilling your role on the job, chances are someone else is complaining about you, too.

5. CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You may not be able to stop the clouds from forming overhead, but you can grab an umbrella and keep things dry. Do the things you’re supposed to do. Do them well. Do them consistently. If you aren’t handling your business, maybe that’s why your boss treats you like a jerk. Maybe not, but why provide the ammunition that can later be used against you. This also includes your actions, words, and attitudes.

6. CELEBRATE SMALL VICTORIES: Find things to be happy about. Even in the direst of circumstances, even if you don’t get any credit for them, there’s always something to celebrate. Especially when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Your manager might not realize this, but their success depends on your success. Each victory you accomplish make them look good. You’ll slowly get their attention and make them realize that you’re good for business. Eventually, it will all add up. You may need to (subtly) make certain to pass that celebration on up the chain to help gain visibility from the top.

7. BE READY TO MOVE ON: Not usually ideal. And most people actually get sick just thinking about looking for a new job. Change is a pain and, in this job market, you certainly don’t want to tempt fate, right? Well, sometimes you have to pack it up and move on. I certainly don’t recommend jumping to this step without putting forth your best effort at the first six, but I certainly can’t stop you. I will say this though: Chances are, your next boss will suck, too. I’m just saying.

peace… love… bdg…

MUSIC&reviews23 Aug 2010 04:02 pm

i could’ve sworn that i had already written and posted this update, but clearly this was not the case… and now, i’ve got a handful of new releases this week to talk about, too… therefore, yes folks, expect multiple music of the day entries this week… it’s not like i don’t have plenty of ground to make up for given my lack of attention during the top half of this year… anyway, these will probably be quicker takes than normal, but below are notable albums that released in January of this year and a little commentary… later (in a different update), i’ll talk about newer releases… off we go…

Wake Me – Tal & Acacia

honestly, i didn’t expect much from this sister duo who seemingly came out of nowhere… it seemed like a formulaic device to appease the ever-growing market focus on tweenagers thanks to Hannah Montana and my homeboys, the Jonas Brothers… i expected lightweight pop tunes that fizzled out like the soda foam after thirty seconds in an ice-filled glass… and it’s definitely pop and there are some lighter moment, but it’s such an infectious album that i was surprisingly drawn in and caught up in the merry go round that is this album… yes, it does tire if overdone, but Wake Me, it did indeed…

Ocean Eyes – Owl City

here’s a tricky one for me… and albeit, i think the deluxe version of this album released in January whereas the standard version was probably available months earlier… and, while i can’t definitively tell you what differentiates the two versions – i assume there’s a bonus song or two – i can say that this is an album i can go either way on… there’s no denying the success the group has seen and it’s fantastic to see a young group of guys put out popular music with at least a vaguely positive message… but the bottom line for me is that, at their very best, Owl City is a lighter version of Mae… and Mae is great, but Owl City has a ways to go… i don’t dislike it per se, but i don’t listen to it often and often when i do, i make it about halfway through before i’m looking for my copy of The Everglow and changing discs, or playlists, or file folders…

Birds & Cages – Deas Vail

i do like Deas Vail, but they’re not a band that i get too carried away with… i won’t go out of my way to listen to them, but when i do, i feel that it was time reasonably well spent… especially since i work while i listen… Wes Blaylock makes a rather compelling case for loving the band as each time he opens his mouth, he releases a stunning vocal perform… Birds & Cages is about finding freedom and finding yourself… not to get all deep and stuff, it’s also a rather enjoyable release…

To the Secrets and Knowledge – Number One Gun

based on this and the previous two albums, you could easily get the impression that January is the month for modern, mellow rock tunes… yes, this follows suit and doesn’t do too much to distinguish itself from other weeds in the field, but it’s still somewhat impressive that Jeff Schneeweis (your pronunciation is as good as mine) does this all by himself… and, oh, there’s always the cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing… well…

Undisguised – Anthony Evans

over the years, Anthony Evans has seemed to have an identity crisis, which really bothered me… he’s been a pretty good R&B vocalist and then shifted to a mediocre (at best) pop star wannabe… and here, he switches things up again and poses as 4 Him minus 3… Undisguised is a collection of popular worship songs and, i hate to say this, it’s entirely skippable… it’s certainly not an album that has me revisiting it often… very vanilla and lacking in anything compelling or even emotional, which is what you might expect from a worship album…

The Golden Rule – Above the Golden State

so this is a six-song EP that, to my knowledge, stands alone rather than leading into a full-length album… the group is a lot of fun and the songs feature some good lyrics about loving others and following the, duh, golden rule… it’s nice, mellow, modern rock, that is soothing and quite enjoyable… and i’m not just saying nice things about them because i want them to say nice things about me… promise…

Losing All – Day of Fire

when Day of Fire came onto the scene, there was much talk of lead singer Josh Brown, his tattoos, and his intriguing backstory… everyone expected some really hard rock tunes from the former lead singer of Full Devil Jacket and there was certainly an edge to it… but, as with all things existing in the realm of pop culture, interest was lost, sales dwindled between releases, and suddenly Day of Fire was an independent band looking for a label home… Losing All was funded by fans, picked up after the fact by Razor and Tie and here we are… there’s still an edge, but that’s mostly due to Brown’s raspy vocals… in the meantime, the band brought in Idol finalist Chris Daughtry as a writer to help create a more marketable sound… (my speculation)… anyway, it’s a pretty good album… i don’t mind listening to it now and again and if you liked the first coupe releases, this one’s even better…

The Good Album – All Star United

Ian Eskelin is larger than life in the world of Christian music… i’ve lost count of how many songs he’s written, artists he’s developed, and albums he’s produced… (and i don’t really feel like doing research right now)… but hey, he’s reunited with the boys of ASU, a crowd favorite, to drop another explosion of the pop-rock sound and biting sarcasm that makes the band legendary… what’s really great about this album (and pretty much any ASU album) is that they don’t take themselves too seriously, but the music is really enjoyable, fun, and light hearted… you may listen to it 15 times before realizing you’ve listened to the whole thing… dude, it’s freaking awesome…

okay, now that’s settled… finally… i can go work on some other things… like more updates and more music…

peace… love… bdg…