My favorite sermon this year is from Matt Chandler, preaching at my Alma mater, Southern Seminary. No, I don’t think hell has frozen over, though Chandler himself makes a joking reference to the fact that he is preaching there at all. A powerful sermon made all the more so after subsequent revelations of Chandler’s cancer:
- And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead: The Century Of Self
- Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More
- The Black Atlantic: Reverence for Fallen Trees
- Akron/Family: Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free
- J. Tillman: Year in the Kingdom
- As Tall As Lions: You Can’t Rake It With You
- Karen O and the Kids: “Where the Wild Things Are” soundtrack
- Maupa: Run Run Sleep
- Cave Singers: Welcome Joy
- Paper Route: Absence 2009
- Deas Vail: Birds and Cages
- Silversun Pickups: Swoon
- David Thomas Owen IV: Solace My King
- Mewithoutyou: It’s all Crazy, It’s all False, It’s All a Dream! It’s Alright
- The Fray: Self Titled
- The Twilight Sad: Forget the Night Ahead
- Silver Starling: S/T
- Sleeping at Last: Storyboards
- The Avett Brothers: I and Love and You
- Sherwoord: Qu
- Swell Season: Strict Joy
I love music and I love to see/hear what music other people love. With that in mind, I love year-end lists. I know, I know, it’s always subjective to say that one album is “better” than another. What criteria do we use? Who sets the standard? How much of it is simply personal taste? A lot, to be honest.
So, when I set out to revisit a year, I create a giant playlist of all the albums that stood out to me the previous year, for whatever reason. And, truth be told, a list like this might be different if created on a different day. But more than anything, I try to think about what music “defined” the year for me, if that’s possible. So, without further ado, here is the music that has helped define 2009 for me:
- 30: Wilco: Wilco (The Album).
- 29: Megafaun: Gather, Form And Fly.
- 28: Bell Orchestre: As Seen Through Windows.
- 27: Passion Pit: Manners.
- 26: Phoenix: Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix .
- 25: Aaron Spiro: Elephant Song.
- 24: Sufjan Stevens: The BQE.
- 23: Bob Dylan: Together Through Life.
- 22: Dirty Projectors: Bitte Orca.
- 21: The Antlers: Hospice.
- 20: The Civil Wars: Live At Eddie’s Attic.
- 19: Alec Ounsworth: Mo Beauty.
- 18: Bonnie “Prince” Billy: Beware.
- 17: Jim O’Rourke: The Visitor.
- 16: J. Tillman: Year In The Kingdom.
- 15: Page CXVI: Hymns.
- 14: Califone: All My Friends Are Funeral Singers.
- 13: Antony and the Johnsons: The Crying Light.
- 12: Gomez: A New Tide.
- 11: The Cave Singers: Welcome Joy.
- 10: Neko Case: Middle Cyclone.
- 09: The Avett Brothers: I And Love And You
- 08: Karen O And The Kids: Where The Wild Things Are Official Soundtrack.
- 07: The Black Atlantic: Reverence For Fallen Trees.
- 06: Joe Henry: Blood From Stars.
- 05: Animal Collective: Merriweather Post Pavillion.
- 04: The Very Best: Warm Heart of Africa.
- 03: Fanfarlo: Resevoir.
- 02: Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More.
- 01: Bifrost Arts: Come O Spirit! Anthology of Hymns & Spiritual Songs Volume 1.
- 07. Forgotten God: Reversing Our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit by Fancis Chan
- 06. The Search For God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield
- 05. Your Jesus Is Too Safe: Outgrowing a Drive-Thru, Feel-Good Savior by Jared Wilson.
- 04. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Tim Keller
- 03. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller
- 01. Deep Church: A Third Way Beyond Emerging and Traditional by Jim Belcher
- 01. The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity by Skye Jethani
Chan skillfully approaches a topic many of us avoid: the third Person of the Trinity. With a pastor’s heart, he guides the reader through the cliffs of extremism in search of a deeper faith.
Mansfield succeeds in giving us a practical lesson in what history books should be like. Much more than a dry recitation of facts, figures, dates and events, The Search For God and Guinness shows us the faith behind one of the most successful beers in the world.
Wilson presents a clear consideration of how consumerism has affected our faith and yet he also presents a way out; reminding us of the great, dangerous Jesus who saves us to live for Him.
With pastoral precision, Keller goes right for the heart and challenges us to examine what has captured ours.
I’ll be honest and say that I’ve often liked the idea of Donald Miller better than I’ve actually liked his books. Until this one.
IT’S A TIE! You can say it’s cheating to have two books tie for book of the year, but get your own list.
Belcher winsomely navigates troubled waters, showing us that the pursuit of historic Christianity is always “relevant.”
There are many books about the the consumerism mindset of American Christianity. But few of them are so pastoral and none of them so successfully interweave the art of Van Gogh.
Pixar continues their winning streak, this time with an unexpectedly sentimental tale about pursuing lost dreams (and family).
Bleak, heavy but infused with hope. Not for the faint of heart.
Where The Wild Things Are
A movie for adults about being a child and trying to understand and deal with life’s circumstances and emotions.
Ok folks, here are my picks for the tops of 2009. By way of explanation: I went with songs rather than albums because, well, I think the album format is almost dead.
- Community. For those of us who liked Joel McHale on E’s Talk Soup, this is a perfect venue for his humor. Good to see Chevy Chase on his game.
- The Office. Yes, I think the dual-manager plot is tiring. However, these characters are so darn loveable that I keep looking forward to Thursday nights.
- Curb Your Enthusiasm. Ok, so I have to watch these on video since I don’t have HBO. But, without a doubt, this is brilliant television.
- Something Is Squeezing My Skull by Morrissey:
Moz is over 50 and still rocking. Jesse Tobias (briefly with Red Hot Chili Peppers and formerly with Alanis Morissette) provides some deafening guitar, and the songs frank discussion about the mind-numbing effect of anti-depressant drugs is powerful, culminating in the refrain “don’t give me anymore, please don’t give me anymore.” Also, Morrissey believes in miracles!
- I Am Weary With My Sighing by Doug Burr:
Denton’s own Doug Burr is the real deal. “Weary” is on Shawl, Burr’s 2009 album of Psalms. Yes, Psalms as in the Bible. What do you get when you add Burr’s twang, Bible verses, slide guitar, and great backing vocals? Brilliance.
- Wrong by Depeche Mode:
Ok, so Depeche Mode has been putting out mediocre albums for over a decade. Each album has 1 or 2 good songs, and thanks to iTunes, fans are no longer subjugated to the crap. 2009’s Sound of the Universe is no exception. It is mostly forgettable, except for this catchy song
- Crown on the Ground by Sleigh Bells:
A must-here song. It is loud and obnoxious but singer Alexis Krauss has an irresistible voice. This song has such a monstrous riff!
- Always Like This by The Bombay Bicycle Club:
This is a song that has grown on me. Lead singer Jack Steadman’s wobbling voice is intriguing and the song has a great hook.
- Island Is by Volcano Choir:
Justin Vernon gives us another great offering from his side project, Volcano Choir. Island, IS is an interesting combination of Vernon’s earthy tone and tripnotic beats.
- I Love You Better by the Maccabees.
It’s a good song and the freeze frames are pretty cool:
- Facebook, of course. There is no better social networking site. It is an internet party for the masses. But beware, new social site are first for the masses but quickly become elitist. We saw this with blogs. Remember when *everyone* had a blog? Well, I bet most of us did have now consolidated or stopped altogether. There is no way to monitor ALL those blogs. The same is true with Facebook friends, so be looking for some elitist level or jump to somehow distinguish popular face bookers with lollygaggers. It will be the internet version of Lettermen’s jackets.
- Urbanspoon. Where to eat!?! Wonder no longer. Urbanspoon will help find the right joint and save you from wasting your money on less-than-stellar meals. Why is it great? Customer reviews, neighborhood searches, connectivity with facebook and MySpace, and search-ability (you want Indian food in Gary, Indiana? Just go to Urbanspoon and vuala!) make this the end-all site for dining out.