23 December 2011

That's what Christmas is all about...

A simple, yet profound, reminder as we wait for our coming Saviour...

"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)
as proclaimed by Linus in A Charlie Brown Christmas

14 December 2011

Twenty-Five Albums [That Made Me]

A couple years ago, Tim over at Fantastic Distraction posted a list of "The 25 Albums that Made Me" -- it was a very cool read and really lets you see a lot about the person through a medium that speaks to so many people. So I thought I'd give it a go! I actually started this list shortly thereafter, but it's taken me nearly two years to complete! These are not my favorite albums, necessarily, but the ones that had the greatest impact on my life (and all the many aspects thereof). In no particular order, other than roughly chronological.

Steve Taylor . On The Fritz [1983]
My parents introduced me to music early on in my life. I can remember them always listening to records. It was a time when listening to records was a family affair -- no personal stereos or iPods to speak of, you listened to the album on the family stereo system together. We laughed, sang along and danced around like crazy people to most of them...especially this one!

Public Enemy . It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back [1988]
As a white, middle-class kid coming of age (ha!) in the late-80s/early-90s, I guess I was somewhat obligated to listen to Public Enemy. Of course, I didn't understand any of the issues Chuck and Flava were rapping about, but it just didn't matter. The beats did. So did the samples. So did the intense delivery of Chuck's lyrics. The fun and craziness of Flava's rhymes (and that clock!). And the intrigue behind the crew they associated with (S1W's anyone?). This was my gateway, oddly enough, to earlier hip-hop and what fuels my search for the real hip-hop.

Slaughter - Stick It to Ya [1990]
I should also mention that I grew up on a rather healthy dose of 80's Hair Rock -- I would call this album the soundtrack to that era. One of the tracks on this album -- Fly to the Angels (Acoustic) -- is the first time I can recall hearing an acoustic version of a song. Although the notion of creating and releasing an acoustic version of a song was worn out over the next 10 years by the corporate music industry, it's still hard to deny the beauty that lies in a stripped-down version of one of your favorites.

Black Crows . Shake Your Money Maker [1990]
Don't laugh, but I spent the summer before my freshman year of high school sitting in my room building models -- cars and trucks -- and listening to this tape in a Magnavox boom box. It was edgy. It was about love, which I knew nothing about. And contained lyrics whose meaning I couldn't fully grasp. Hence the intrigue.

Guns N' Roses . Use Your Illusion I & II [1991]
Although I didn't understand the draw of these albums at the time, hindsight shows that the deeper longings and searchings that eminate from both is what distinguished them from GN'R's previous two records. I can see now that I'm wired for the search for truth...for what is real. Believe it or not, Axl Rose is on that same journey. We've certainly taken different paths and I suspect we've found different answers along the way, but we're both travellers on the journey. Oh...and that piano used throughout both albums...I'm still a sucker today for any artist that skillfully uses a piano where it's not necessarily expected.

Beastie Boys . Check Your Head [1992]
This is THE record of my high school youth. I used to drive around in an '88 Mercury Tracer booming this mix of punk and hip-hop. To this day, the Beastie Boys remain one of my favorite bands.

Led Zeppelin . The Complete Studio Recordings [1993]
I used my Pap's Christmas money one year back in high school (1990-94) to buy The Complete Studio Recordings. Led Zeppelin's brand of rock is classic in every sense of the word. Still go to these albums all the time, and it never fails...I always hear something new or something that is just awe-inspiring.

Smashing Pumpkins . Siamese Dream [1993]
This album was my Nevermind. While everyone else was listening to Nirvana, this band just totally captured my musical interests. I guess you can chalk that up to the current you see running through most of these 25 albums -- a nod to the reflective, internal, and longings of one's heart. For me, rock music was never about banging my head into nothingness, it was finding yourself lost in the music in such a way as to engage true reflection on where you had come from, what you had learned as a result and how you were going to move forward.

Beck . Where It's At [1994]
Not quite hip-hop. Not quite alternative. Not quite pop. But just about perfect.

Veruca Salt . American Thighs [1994]
Two women fronting an alternative rock band in the 90's? It was for this very reason this band never really got a lot of credit for doing anything; but I believe them to be, and this album to be, one of the true gems of the alternative rock era.

Portishead . Dummy [1994]
Hold up -- there's actually a group that uses lush, electronic production and instrumentation, that's fronted by a woman with alternative leanings who can actually sing the pangs of her heart and make you believe...sign me up!

Radiohead . The Bends [1995]
Yes...before OK Computer there was The Bends. I guess more than anything, it raised the level of what I should expect from the music I listened to. More proof that music, good music, should be defined as art. This is a Top-10 all time record for me.

Deftones . Adrenaline [1995]
Introduced me to a level of emotion in music -- both lyrically and instrumentally -- to which I had yet to encounter. This album will always serve as the litmus for emotional music.

MTV's AMP [1997]
So there used to be this one hour slot on MTV that ran in the wee early morning hours that played nothing but electronic music videos. The sound was like nothing I had ever heard before (these guys make music with computers and electronic instruments, no guitars or drums?). The focus was the music and drawing out that inner sense that every soul feels to express itself through dance, you just needed to heed the call. And I did. I certainly didn't live and die for raves (or even join the movement, so to speak), but I did enjoy going out every once in a while with some good friends to dance myself into a frenzy. Photek's Ni Ten Ichi Ryu is the standout track here and one of my all time favorites. I don't dance anymore (at least publically), but I would venture to say that a significant portion of the music I consume today is electronic of some sort. The sound has changed over the years, but that inner call still screams for its freedom.

Björk . Homogenic [1997]
If you look up the dictionary definition of the word "original," you're sure to find a reference to Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk. The songs from this album touch a point deep inside me with their lush production, sweeping melodies and delicate vocals that feel strangely familiar. It was just another reminder to me that it was okay to be different in life.

Weezer . The Blue Album [1994]
In a weird way, Weezer was indie before indie was indie. I discovered this album a few years after its release (with some help from my friends). For that reason, this album defines a certain time in my life (late-college/post-college) and the friends and times we shared. I definitely miss my Pittsburgh peeps!

Elliott Smith . XO [1998]
This album opened my eyes to the whole singer-songwriter genru. A guy, his guitar, and the lyrics of one's life. Today I would say it's the one genru of music I could not do without.

1.8.7. - Quality Rolls [1998]
Electronic dance music is littered with too many sounds and sub-genrus to name. This was my introduction to drum-n-bass, the sub-genru that quickly became my favorite.

DJ Shadow . Entroducing... [2001]
A talented guy from the West Coast takes a bunch of old records with amazing hooks and puts them all together to create his very own piece of original work.

Tree63 . Tree63 [2001]
Opened me up to "christian" music in my adult life. I hate labeling bands as secular or christian because I believe true art should bridge all gaps...but at the same time I have a true appreciation for these guys becasue they weren't afraid to mention the name of Jesus or His transforming message in any of their songs. I credit this album with opening me up to artists such as The Benjamin Gate, David Crowder*Band and a tiny band from San Diego named Switchfoot.

k-os . Exit [2003]
I grew up on 80's and early-90's hip-hop, witnessed the "death" of hip-hop with the introduction of gangsta rap and then caught a glimmer of hope for hip-hop's second coming with this album. Not sure you'll see this much credit given to this album in any other place, but it represents everything to me that is hip-hop and creativity.

Cool Hand Luke . Wake Up, O Sleeper [2003]
Saw these guys live at the Purple Door Festival and ordered their first album the minute I got home that day. I remember listening to the album for the first time in my car on the way home from work one day. Specifically, I remember sitting at a red light and hearing lyrics that were just bathed in depth and honesty. I rebelled against Christian music for so many years because of what I perceived as its lack of depth. When I heard this, I remember how hard it was for me to believe that these guys loved God and could sing about it with honesty and true emotion. It changed my view of everything artistically worthy of our Lord, that there was this level that we must all strive for -- a level that does away with the need of labeling something as secular or Christian. Everything is sacred.

Sufjan Stevens . Seven Swans [2004]
Phew...where do I even begin. Thanks to the robust indie music blog-o-sphere, I discovered Sufjan's music art about six years ago. Much like my God...it has changed my life. And I don't say that lightly. The sincerity and musicianship that comes across in this album is breath-taking. Top 5 all time for me, no doubt.

Imogen Heap . Speak for Yourself [2005]
Creativity at its best. In some ways, Imogen is a modern-day Björk. True independence and fresh thinking in music, at a time when the scene was well on its way to being overcrowded. A time when any 13-year old could make music (and I use the term loosely) on a computer, but very few were actually creating anything of note. This is a sweeping, rich-textured masterpiece of sound that led me to other artists like Kate Havnevik and Milosh.

Josh Garrels . Love & War & The Sea In Between
There are a few albums one comes across in life at just the right time that simply feel as though they've been written for you -- this is one of them. Frankly, I've been in this weird place spiritually for quite some time. And it's not like this album served as a magic elixar or anything, but I truly believe that the Spirit has used it (and continues to use it) to speak truth into my life -- about who I am, about who I was created to be and a little more about how this faith thing can be worked out in this World. I should also note that Josh is giving away the album for free.

03 November 2011

I was led to this song today.

I guess it's something I've been feeling in my heart for a while.
No great theological insight about it today...
it's just the state of my heart.

I want to come home.
I'm ready.
Here's my heart.

Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Sufjan Stevens - Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing

23 September 2011

A Stumbled Forest (Stockpiled Like Littered Flags)

A Stumbled Forest (Stockpiled Like Littered Flags)

With the abundance of humbled limbs and littered flags
(How we got here, and where we are now)

Sincerely swindled, the troubles piled like broken accents
(Like stock, or others' truths)

Burdens like trials like trying/broke-down trains
(Tugging along these two-timing traintracks, persuaded to sing/mumble this damned anthem)

We're all too homesick and so house broken
(Anxious like stubborn stock markets)

But in the distance
(And through these empty spaces and their signaled echoes),

A setting sun, like an allowing toll-booth, reassures us
that sand becomes mountains become monuments become sand
(Nothing can ever stay precious on a sinking ship)

and that barricades are only as decisive as we make them
(So we sway back and forth/forth and back with the motions, hoping to reach anywhere or elsewhere)

'No homeland ever', the tides hint; 'No homeland ever'.

A Stumbled Forest (Stockpiled Like Littered Flags) by this is limbo
Paper Mache, housepaint, Oil and Acrylic on MDF . August 2011

03 September 2011


I don't have a lot of words today...

10 months [thinking]

This is my son.
My first born.
Tian Elliot.

Yesterday he was 11 months old.
Today we celebrate and give thanks for his first year of life.

I love him...a lot.

And I hope pray that one day, he has a personal encounter with the Living God such that the Gospel is indelibly written on his heart. So that one day, he may echo the words of the psalmist:

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.

01 September 2011

What other people are saying...

I’ve always known that choosing to explore the intricacies of my faith in Christ would be a potential disconnection for many listeners. Yet, I’ve been compelled to do so, not out of a sense of obligation or to proselytize, but because when I’m honest with myself … I can’t escape how interesting, mysterious, and life-changing the whole thing is. I turn these things over in my mind and heart a lot, and the songs become a sort of tool or vehicle for me to flesh out what’s happening within. I do this as much for me as for the listener. I think to abandon this subject matter for the sake of being palatable to more listeners would be dishonest, both to myself and to them. I think it’s authenticity that people listen for first. I can connect with songs from Black Sabbath, The Sex Pistols, Prince, or Polyphonic Spree without being compelled to believe what they’re singing about. Yet, I’m compelled to listen because they’re believable.

22 July 2011

I had a spiritually energizing lunch with a brother and long-time friend today.
And you know what...
I'm convinced God is up to something.
And He wants my family and I to join Him.
And get this...He desires for you to come along side of Him as well.
And it's not about a particular act or set of actions.
Nor is it about serving a particular group of people.
It's about knowing Christ in such a way that you can sense the Spirit's leading and join God's on-going story of redemption on this Earth.
It's about a relationship with Him.
A relationship that transcends all that you've been taught.
A relationship that transcends all that you've read.
A relationship that transcends all of the stuff that you feel compelled to participate in.
I claim it now, in the name of Jesus, for my family and I.
Won't you join us?

Praise God for this great work!

26 May 2011

make a noise

This track is epic!
May it remind you today to "make a noise" with the light that you carry around inside you everyday; it could literally change someone's life.

And don't neglect finding your own voice.

13 May 2011

Amazing artist who is new to me -- Australian Paul Dempsey. Found through NoiseTrade, the best kept secret in the [nu]music business.

06 May 2011

This is my unconventional way of saying Happy Mother's Day to my wife. Hope this puts a smile on your face, Ang! I honestly cannot express in words the amount of respect I have for you and your role as mother to our son. You wear motherhood well, and fill me with pride in the process.

Love you, babe.

21 April 2011

23 March 2011


Currently Reading
God Guides . Mary Geegh
This is not a book that tells one story from beginning to end, in the traditional sense. Rather, it's a collection of true stories, from Geegh's 38 years as a missionary in India, that tells of the power of Christ, as one submits to His leading through the "art" of listening prayer. It's a rather simple idea, yet so profound in its effect. I'm excited (and convicted at the same time) to begin this art; this method of strengthing my communion with my Creator. Highly recommended.

Currently Listening To
Peter Bradley Adams . I Cannot Settle Down - Sampler
A long-time reader of this blog would know that music is one of the major ways in which I believe the truths of God are impressed upon my heart. That being said, I'm always on the lookout (although not as actively as I once was) for that next artist or song that portrays such truth. I grabbed this sampler for free from NoiseTrade. If you don't know NoiseTrade, you should. And while I like all of the songs, there are two or three that just completely stop you in your tracks. They are just so beautiful, both the vocals and instrumentation, but yet very simple. Combine that with honest songwriting, and you've got me listening to these tracks on repeat for days on end.

Current Life Quote
"Accept His love for others, and His love from others, then His miracles can happen. For it is really Christ in others who reaches out to us."
-Mary Geegh

01 March 2011


10.5' x 36'

Motoi Yamamoto

Javier Navarrete - Long, Long Time Ago [follow link to MP3]

11 February 2011

Frank Wuestefeld . Unchain Me

Picking back up on my last post...

As I said before, the thing that really jumps out at me after watching this short documentary is the fact that it totally captures the passion that Scott Schumann has for what he does and how he lives his life.

Which begs some questions...

Is it just the lucky few in life who are able to make a living doing what they are passionate about? Or is it the fact that I refuse to live out the freedom (which I purport to find in Christ) in lieu of the lies of security and safeness found in my 9 to 5 job? Maybe I'm just supposed to chase down my passions as a hobby. You know, in all my spare time. Okay. But what happens when the life we have chained ourselves to gets in the way of following those God-seeded passions? I mean, the first things that usually get axed from our "lists" are our hobbies and passions, right? Why is that?

Am I the only one living like this?
Why do I [we] refuse the freedom in place of the familiar? 
Why do I [we] refuse the freedom in place of the security?
Why do I [we] live in chains?

28 January 2011

"I don't see a hundred images a day that I'd wanna take, you know? I see two or three. So for me it's very easy to be patient and wait for those images; because that's just the way I thought it was supposed to be."

-Scott Schumann [aka The Sartorialist]

Other than the fact that I [secretly] want to either be a fashion designer [who can't sew/draw] or a photographer, what I like about this short documentary is the fact that it captures the passion that Scott Schumann has for what he does and how he lives his life.

Which begs some questions...but ones that I'm not prepared to speak aloud just yet.
So chew on this documentary for a bit and I'll be back at some point to discuss.

09 January 2011


You know that feeling you get when you see (or read) something and you wish you could tell everyone in the whole wide world about it? Pretty much how I feel about this video. This is a 100% stop-motion video created using actual Lite-Brite pieces. Add in the fact that it was conceived, created, directed and photographed by the band and I literally feel like running to the nearest mountain top (or maybe mall) and shouting!

Praise the Lord for the David Crowder*Band -- these creative geniuses have been putting out material that honors their Creator for a long time. And they never cease to amaze me with their creativity. Such an inspiration.

And be sure and check out the inter-workings of how they made this video, its completly jaw-dropping. The Making of SMS[SHINE]: Part One . Part Two . Part Three . Part Four

01 January 2011

twenty-ten in sound

Another crazy year in music for me. You know...it occurs to me that I still define normal (or typical) by the past. It's 2010 and time for me to realize that the music world of my college days (i.e. shopping in record stores and buying CDs) is just that -- a thing of the past -- and no longer the norm. So from here on out, I vow to just tell it like it is. I bought very little music again this year. I grab a few MP3s from various blogs and if something really speaks to me, I look into it further and do the digital download thing if so warranted. I still very much like a physical CD (and the album artwork that accompanies it) to hold in my hand, so I try and grab the "real thing" for those bits of music that are lifetime listens.

Enough of this small talk, let's get to the sounds of twenty-ten. Follow the link to the MP3s, and grab them quick because the links expire in 7 days. [And should you happen to show up on the 8th day (or after), just drop a comment or email and I'll be happy to refresh the links.]

Sufjan Stevens . Futile Devices
From Sufjan's new album, The Age of Adz, which continues to see Sufjan experiment with new layers of sound to complement his fragile and honest voice. I will always go to songs like Futile Devices, but its a really strong album from beginning to end for the simple fact that although Sufjan walks right up to the edge of a cliff with his experimentation, he never jumps off.

Derek Webb . Our Father In Heaven
Feedback is the album from which this song emanates -- it is truly a worshipful piece of art. Webb continues to push the envelope of how an artist who creates for the glory of God should be defined. What he created here is a classically composed, instrumental electronic album based on The Lord's Prayer. And in the age of the digital single, Webb gives us beautiful packing for the CD, complete with stand-alone (i.e. removable) art -- prints of photos and paintings -- that were specifically commissioned for the project. Without a doubt, Feedback is my album of the year.

Jónsi . Kolniður
Jónsi, frontman of the band Sigur Rós, branches out on his own to create a cosmic soundscape of a song that is equally-impressive as that of his band. Like a good movie that you never want to end, this track builds and builds, only to leave you hanging in the end (but in a good way).

Mumford & Sons . Awake My Soul
These guys got a lot of indie press this year. I can't buy into their whole album, but this song is an introspective foot-stomper (just wait till the end).

Katie Herzig . Beautiful Inside
I honestly don't know anything about this artist -- its just some quality, intelligent indie-pop.

Shad . Yaa I Get It
A new blip on my radar screen. This is a fine example of quality, underground hip-hop. Here's a guy who converses about topics other than girls, rims, bling and chasing the Hollywood lifestyle. So refreshing to the ears.

Dexter . The Future
A DJ/Producer that crafts one of the finest songs from others' samples since DJ Shadow. I remember the first time I heard it, and playing it on repeat for an hour or so -- its infectious!

Sleigh Bells . Kids
I spend a lot of time thinking -- whether it be at work or life in general. This song is the soundtrack for when I need a bit of downtime that requires no thinking whatsoever. Big beats. Grimy guitars. Distorted vocals. Yes, please!

Janelle Monáe . Tightrope
Again, not a whole lot of thinking required here, Monáe channels her best James Brown to bring a breath of fresh air to pop music. It was my song of the summer!

Cracker Jackson . Potty Time
Putting all my cred on the line here with this one...but as a new dad, I just had to throw this one on here. You may recall me giving this album some love earlier this year. It happened to come out around the time Tian was born. So in those first few weeks, when this song would randomly play, it just lifted our spirits, earning its way onto this small collection of year-end songs.

Previously: 08 IN SOUND . 2007 In Song . Six for '06