2013 Music I’m Looking Forward to: The Lone Bellow

December 28, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I’m really looking forward to the January 22nd self-titled release by The Lone Bellow, produced by Charlie Peacock (who also produced The Civil Wars). Here is their video for “Two Sides of Lonely” followed by a live session for Serialbox:

 



 

 


SerialBox Presents: THE LONE BELLOW from SerialBox Presents on Vimeo.

2012 In Review

December 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm



Welcome to this year’s round-up of thoughts, prayers and popular culture. I love year-end lists because they help me gather my thoughts about the culture I’ve interacted with during the year, but also because they help me discover new things I might have missed on my own. However, I fully realize that such lists are entirely subjective. So, with that in mind, I don’t have the nerve to say that these are “the best” items of 2012, just my favorite things of the year.

As you might now, I partner with my great friend Mark Whiten in something we call The Habañero Collective (by the way, if you’re wondering, our website is essentially a Tumblr place-holder website for house show announcements where I post pictures I like in between house show announcements). We used to do a podcast and now we host house shows. We grew so tired of there being no music and culture in our part of Phoenix that we decided that, instead of complain, we would create it. So we host bands for concerts in houses (see performances from three of my favorite house shows we’ve hosted here, here, and here). All of that to say, I also include Mark’s favorite albums of the year because he and I are continually pushing one another to “discover” great music. Granted, I’ve introduced him to more music than the other way around, but is that really the point? ;-)

If you have something you think we missed in 2012, I’d love to hear it. If you think we’re wrong on some of our favorites, I suggest you get your own blog. ;-)

So, without further ado, here is the Holiday At the Sea/Habañero Collective 2012 year-end round-up:

  • Browse Mark Whiten’s favorite albums of 2012 (coming soon)
  • Browse Brent’s favorite movies of 2012
  • Browse Brent’s favorite 2011 albums first heard in 2012
  • Browse Brent’s favorite songs of 2012
  • Browse Brent’s favorite albums of 2012
  • Browse our 2011 picks
  • Browse our 2010 picks
  • Browse our 2009 picks

Brent’s Favorite Albums of 2012

December 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm

This year has been a very interesting for me musically. I listen to a ton of music and this year was no exception. Yet, I found myself very out of touch with what everyone else seemed to love this year. That becomes all the more apparent as people begin posting their year-end lists. I see everyone loving albums I feel like I “should have liked” but just didn’t. I really liked Frank Ocean’s Orange album, but since this list is my actual favorites (which means albums that I listened to a lot and became part of my world), it’s not on the list.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year:

Let me start with the obvious. There is one album that lots of people will expect to be here that just isn’t. My second favorite album of 2009 was Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More. I loved it. I played it a lot. But after a couple of hundred listens, it started to seem a bit repetitive. Though they clearly had a set pattern (slow plaintive vocals, gradual build, climactic build and end), they did it well. And then Babel was released and I just couldn’t do another whole album of the same pattern. I like plenty of bands that have set patterns. I even like lots of music with lots of repetition, it just seemed far too predictable and formulaic for me. Before you send me notes about how wrong or how right I am, please remember that I specifically say that my lists are “favorite” albums. It is subjective. This is my blog. This is my opinion. I understand if you disagree, but it’s a subjective disagreement, not an objective one.

So, with that out of the way, here are my personal favorite albums of 2012:

20) (tie) The Followers: Wounded Healer and Soma Music: The Story, Vol. 2

19) Spiritualized: Sweet Heart Sweet Light

18) (tie – AZ REPRESENT!) Giant Giant Sand: Tuscon and Calexico: Algiers

17) The Tallest Man On Earth: There’s No Leaving Now

16) Lord Huron: Lonesome Dreams

15) Lucero: Women & Work

14) Kishi Bashi: 151a

13) Karriem Riggins: Alone Together

12) Cat Power: Sun

11) Dirty Three: Toward The Low Sun

 

10) Of Monsters And Men: My Head Is An Animal
This is the music Ra Ra Riot and Edward Sharpe should have been making. Makes one with that Arcade Fire had another album coming soon. Fun, engaging and anthemic.

09) Avett Brothers: The Carpenter
An emotional journey exploring many of the parameters of death and what it’s like to be on either side of it. Though it did take me a while to grow in to this album, once I did, I really did.

08) American Gospel: Tall Tales, Vol. 1
The term “side project” can sometimes mean “not really a fully developed project.” However, Gregg Andrew DellaRocca of Republic of Wolves delivers a fully realized, fully engaging album here.

07) Daniel Bachman: Seven Pines 
I am a huge fan of “American Primitive” solo guitar music. John Fahey, Basho, Kottke, Jack Rose and others have accompanied me well over the years. Add Daniel Bachman to that list. I really like this album.

06) Diiv: Oshin
I probably like this album disproportionately to what it actually is: a throwback to melody-driven, guitar-heavy shoegaze. But I have a soft-spot for exactly such things, so I found myself returning to this album a lot.

 

05) Godspeed You! Black Emperor: ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! 
After a decade, Godspeed You! Black Emperor returns with an album of new material. Though the formula hasn’t changed (slowly building orchestral post-rock), that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Their vision of the apocalyptic fits well with turbulent times, no matter how much time passes in between albums. This new album reminds us that a band with a clear vision isn’t tied to release/tour schedules. And I’m thankful for that.

04) Alabama Shakes: Boys & Girls
Though it’s largely an extension of 2011′s EP, Boys & Girls is a good extension. The problem with a band like Alabama Shakes is that you’re never quite sure if they can extend a good thing to a full LP-length. Thankfully, they prove that they can and they do not disappoint. Lots of good soul/blues/rock that delivers.

 

03) The Lumineers: The Lumineers 
So take just about everything I said about Alabama Shakes and apply it here to the Lumineers as well. Their 2011 EP was stellar and then followed up by their self-titled 2012 full-length. I admit that I was quite hesitant going in to this one because I just wasn’t sure that they could carry it off over a full-length, but they more than delivered. This one just keeps getting richer with each listen.

02) Justin Townes Earle: Nothing’s Going To Change The Way You Feel About Me Now
This album was what you might call a “slow burner” for me. I really liked it the first couple of times, but as I kept with it, the more it grew on me. The combination of Memphis soul and country with honest lyrics of love lost interwoven with family ties kept me coming back. Something about the raw honesty of the lyrics really resonated with me. It certainly helped that Justin Townes Earle was by far my favorite concert this year.

 

 
01) Matthew E. White: Big Inner 
I have to thank Jason Woodbury of the Phoenix New Times for the tip on this one. He was on a local radio station talking about how much he liked this album so I decided to check it out. Once I did I was hooked. After the first couple of listens, my wife said it was too mellow but there is just too much soulful depth here to say that it’s just plain “mellow.” No, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure is mine. With the Spacebomb orchestra, White blows away the notion of being a “Beginner” (Big Inner) with a soulful assurance that explores the ideas of love and spirituality with a maturity that many can only hope for. If this is his “beginner” release, I can’t wait to hear what’s next. Just like anything worthwhile, this one is definitely worth the work of really hearing.

Favorite 2011 Albums First Heard in 2012

December 20, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Here are two great 2011 albums that I didn’t actually get to hear until 2012. If I had,
they would have been in my favorites of 2011. But as it is, here they are (two of two in no particular order):

The Kernal: Farewellhello

Once Joe Garner broke from his “coffee-shop folk, singer-songwriter” persona and found himself as
“The Kernal,” he crafted a brilliant modern country record.

Watch the video for “Mind Control:”



 

 
Ramsay Midwood: Larry Buys A Lighter

In 1998, I was browsing the Glitterhouse Records website looking for anything new by Glitterhouse Records website looking for anything new by Rainer Ptacek when I came across a quirky album called Rainer Ptacek
when I came across a quirky album called Shootout At the OK Chinese Restaurant by Ramsay Midwood.
I listened to the 30-second samples over and over, transfixed by the timeless soulful country blues oozing out of the
computer speakers. Then, flying back from a wedding in California from a friend’s wedding, my wife and I
bet whether or not NASDAQ included a “Q” (which it does). As a result of that bet, I got Ramsay
Midwood’s mysterious first album. There was absolutely no information about him whatsoever which made
the timeless music even more timeless.

Several years later when I was an MDiv student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
Ramsay Midwood played a solo show in Louisville. My wife and I went with our friend Kyle and we were
not disappointed. Then again, several years after that, when we were living in TX, Kristi and I drove to Austin for our
10th wedding anniversary just to see Ramsay Midwood play. Again, we were not disappointed. We got to
drink Coronas from koozies, shoot pool and swing and sway to Ramsay Midwood. With three albums in
about 15 years and a live collection (I’m in the liner notes as a thank you!), Ramsay Midwood is not interested
in burning up the charts. Instead, he lets great music simmer and it’s well worth it. I just wish I had
purchased his 2011 album Larry Buys A Lighter in 2011, but here you go; here’s a video for “”Maybelline Grease:”



Favorite Movies of 2012

December 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Though I love movies, I don’t get to watch a lot of them. A lot of this probably has to do with having five boys,
so the movies that I do get time to watch tend to be  Pixar or Dreamworks related. But, every once in a while,
Kristi and I get the chance to watch the moviews we actually want to watch. Here are two of my favorite movies
of 2012:

Moonrise Kingdom

I have been a huge fan of Wes Anderson ever since my good friend Eric introduced me to Bottle Rocket, yes,
even before Rushmore (I used to be cool, I promise). Anderson offers a skewed vision of life’s moments,
big and small. Family, identity, love and the lack thereof. I will be honest and say that I think Anderson is at his
best when he steers away from the pointless crassness and nudity in some of his work. Darjeeling Limited 
and Fantastic Mr. Fox are two of my favorite movies of all time.

Anderson’s latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom explores the forbidden love of two 12-year old outcasts.
Anderson seems to become more “himself” with each new release and he seems much more comfortable letting
the story slip in and out of the bounds of reality. I wonder how much of this has to do with his stop-motion work
on Mr. Fox. This all-star cast rises to the occasion and brings Anderson’s heartbreaking and heartwarming story
to (larger than) life.

 



 

 
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

Earlier this week I wrote about some of my initial thoughts upon watching this fantastic documentary for the
first time, so I won’t go in to more depth here. Let’s just say that this documentary not only led to lots
of memories but also helped me explore the meanings behind them.

 



Brent’s Favorite Songs of 2012

December 20, 2012 at 11:30 pm

Here’s a few of my favorite songs of the year (in alphabetical order by name of artist; not necessarily in order
of “favorites” (though there are some clues about what the list might look like if I had ranked it that way).

Alabama Shakes: Hold On

I’ve got to be honest; this was a tough call on whether or not to include this one here because it was also in my
list of favorite songs last year since it appeared on the band’s previous EP. But, technically, since it was on
a different release each year, here it is again. Yes, I like the song that much.



 

 
Justin Townes Earle: Unfortunately, Anna
If I were ranking songs by numbered favorites instead of alphabetical order, this would be #2.



 

 
The Lumineers: Ho Hey
OK, so if I were numbering songs of the year by “favorites” (which I’m not), this would be #3.



 

 
Soma Music: King Of The Ball



 

 

Matthew E. White: Brazos

So, if I were ranking songs (you guessed it), this would have been my favorite track of the year.



 

 
My favorite cover song of the year is The Vesper’s version of Son House’s Grinnin’ In Your Face



The Gospel According To The Bones Brigade

December 18, 2012 at 2:47 pm

I grew up identifying with skateboard culture. Remember, I’m old, so this was in the 1980′s. It wasn’t like it is today when you can turn on network television and see the Mountain Dew tour of professional skateboarding as part of mainstream America and everyone knows who Tony Hawk is. It wasn’t mainstream. And that’s one of the things that attracted me.

I’ll be honest and I’ll be the first to tell you that I was never very good at skating. But I loved it nonetheless and I’ve been wondering recently why that was. Why did I love to do something I didn’t excel at? One of my favorite skaters growing up was Lance Mountain because he was good, but he just didn’t seem as competitive as some of the other guys. He seemed to truly love skating for skating’s sake. I watched the Bones Brigade videos (especially Animal Chin) incessantly and they became woven into my psyche (for good and bad!).

Last night I finally had the chance to watch Stacy Peralta‘s documentary: Bones Brigade: An Autobiography. Even if you’re not interested in skateboarding, it’s a great story of finding meaning and belonging in a world that doesn’t seem to want you. That was one of the themes throughout each of the skaters’ recollections: they just didn’t feel like they fit in until they found skateboarding. They weren’t sure about life’s meaning until they found skateboarding. I deeply resonated with that sentiment growing up. I could play sports but I just had no interest in organized sports. In fact, I really didn’t like them. I could do well in school when I tried but it just wasn’t important to me. It wasn’t until I found skateboarding that I really felt like I had found an outlet that not only provided personal growth and expression but community.

Now, many (many) years later, as a Christian, I have a deeper understanding of what I was looking for and I have found more than I ever could have hoped for in Jesus. But I’m left wondering, especially as a pastor; does the way we practice “modern-day North American ‘Christianity’” fulfill those deepest desires that we all try to fill in various ways? We all want to be accepted for who we are and the freedom to express our individuality in community that accepts us. Skateboarding has offered that for countless young people.

But I struggle with the way that so much of our practice of Christianity tends to isolate us from those “who aren’t like us.” We withdraw from culture and build our “Christian” baseball fields, football fields, bowling alleys and tennis courts, believing that we can offer a “safe” alternative to people. Yet, in practice, we’ve asked people to “become like us,” to cross a cultural boundary before they can be part of our community. We use belief to exclude people from community. Yet, Jesus flipped this on its head; he used community to draw people to belief. Christians are the worst about asking people to fit into preconceived notions and become monochrome when we should be the most beautiful of tapestries, made up of all kinds of people who preserve their differences in love instead of water them down in conformity. How is it that skateboarders can practice community and acceptance better than those who have been accepted forever by God?

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography reminded me of a time in life when I truly felt free to be myself and felt completely accepted at the same time by others who were truly being themselves. Now, many years later, I’ve come to realize just how rare that is. May our “version” of Christianity be a better treasure than a skateboard.

Watch a trailer for  Bones Brigade: An Autobiography: