2016: The Year In Review

Year-end is a time for reflection. What went well, what didn’t? What would you change or keep the same? What lessons can be learned?

2016 continued to feel like a holding pattern. After resigning from vocational ministry in January 2015, I have struggled to find solid footing. I have found part-time employment but have struggled to find “what’s next” for me and my family and we have struggled to find a faith community.

But through it all, I have felt challenged to know myself more fully. I have been thinking a lot about the fantastic Tom Waits quote: “Be devoted to the unification of the diverse aspects of yourself.” I have been fascinated by both Mennonite and Anglican thought. I have moved away from Republianity and deeper into a desire to understand how Christianity fuels social justice.

Through it all, I am deeply thankful for family and proven friends. When you resign from ministry, you realize that many people who you thought were your friends were . . . well, I don’t know, except to say that it’s easy to feel lonely. I am thankful for friends who prove themselves to be just that, regardless of my position.

The past couple of years have felt like a pruning and I’m excited to see what flowers from it.

In the meantime, let’s look back a bit.

  • Browse my favorite books and authors of 2016.
  • Browse my favorite albums of 2016.
  • Stream a two-volume mix of some of my favorite 2016 songs.

2016: The Year in Music

I love year-end lists. I love to see what other people loved.

2016 was a fairly quiet year for me when it came to music. There was a lot of great music but there didn’t seem to be a single album that really “defined” the year for me. Nothing found its way to repeat-for-weeks level. The closest two albums for me in that regard were A Tribe Called Quest’s We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service and Heart Like A Levee by Hiss Golden Messenger.

Still, it was a year filled with great albums. Here are 30 of my favorites from this year. I have included comments that are probably not really helpful for you in you determining whether or not you would like each album for yourself. Instead, you’ll have to go and do some listening for yourself. I hope you enjoy, maybe find something new, and I look forward to your feedback.

 

 

 

 

We got it from Here… Thank You 4 Your service by A Tribe Called Quest – The album no one expected but struck us all with its timeliness. The Tribe’s first album since 1996 avoided sounding dated while navigating the loss of Phife Dawg. The album is not just a return to form but found everyone at the top of their games. (buy)

Fantômas by Amiina – After serving as Sigur Rós‘ string section, Amiina set out on their own. Fantômas, their fourth release continues their pattern of complex meditative music. (buy)

Wildflower by the Avalanches – Their first new album in 16 years, sample kings the Avalanches create a richly woven tapestry that gives nods to its sources without ever feeling simply pieced together. (buy)

 

 

 

 

Blackstar by David Bowie – David Bowie’s final album cements his status as a sonic explorer to the end. Partnering with exploratory jazz and lyrics that seem to hint that he might have known that his end was near. (buy)

case/lang/viers by Case, Lang, Viers – The partnership between Neko Case, K.D. Lang, and Laura Veirs creates an atmospheric album which not only brings three great voices together but builds on each one to create something more. (buy)

Coloring Book by Chance the Rapper – Joyful rap is often difficult to come by. Much less rap with Christian overtones. Plus the weird noises he makes can be quite fun. (buy)

 

 

 

 

You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen – Another great artist lost this year who seemed to know what was coming. Though he didn’t need to do so, Cohen reminded us why he was one of our great songwriters and lyricists. (buy)

Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not by Dinosaur Jr. – Reunited in 2007, teh band remains on a solid streak that gives you everything you want from the band, including a solid performance from Lou Barlow and J Mascis‘ guitar wizardry. (buy)

Ere Gobez by Debo Band – The 11-piece Ethiopian band incorporates funk, afr0beat, jazz, rock and nearly everything in between but never sounds cluttered and always sounds unified. (buy)

 

 

 

 

The Rarity of Experience by Chris Forsyth and the Solar Motel Band – 70’s instrumental guitar psychedelia for the modern age. You know; if you like that sort of thing. Which I do. A lot. A WHOLE LOT. (buy)

Future Standards by Howe Gelb – Tucson’s Gelb has continually reinvented his persona and has long toyed around with classic jazz. If one were to follow him on Facebook, one would see plenty of classic jazz videos posted. Gelb has ditched the Giant Sand full-band approach and has shifted his focus towards jazz. Only time will tell if these are, indeed future standards. (buy)

Requiem by Goat – Staunchly anonymous world-psychedelic outfit Goat turns in a strong album of staunchly anonymous world psychedelia. (buy)

 

 

 

 

Eyes On The Lines by Steve Gunn – Over the course of his last couple of albums, this masterful guitar player has also proven himself to be a masterful songwriter. Lots of great guitar playing that never seems flashy and lots of songs that capture the wanderlust many of us feel but will never indulge. (buy)

Late Bloomer by Matt Haeck – PopMatters says: “Late Bloomer and it couldn’t be a more appropriate moniker, given that it took Haeck 30 years of life to really begin discovering his own voice.” Having known Matt for several years and watching his musical growth for that whole time, I am pleased to say, he has indeed found his voice. It may be late, but let’s hope he’s not done blooming yet. (buy)

Heart Like A Levee by Hiss Golden Messenger – One of my favorite bands in recent years put out one of my favorite albums of recent years. MC Taylor continues to grow as a writer and bandleader. Exploring issues of faith, family, travel and finding one’s self in the world. Definitely a standout album for me this year. Plus I finally got to see the band live. (buy)

 

 

 

 

House in the Tall Grass by Kikagaku Moyo – Some long-haired Japanese guys put their spin on psychedelic folky rock that still rocks and I dig it. (buy)

Mangy Love by Cass McCombs – On his eighth album, McCombs continues to mature as a songwriter. Though this album wrestles with themes of confusion, it does so with soul. And there’s something to be said for that. (buy)

How To Dance by Mount Moriah – Chapel Hill’s Mount Moriah continues to force many of us to ask: “what exactly is ‘alt. country'”? They have definitely found their voice as a country band, but not one you’re likely to hear on any country station. (buy)

 

 

 

 

Entranced Earth by the Myrrors – Tucson represented yet again! This time with a blistering bout of noisy psychedelic trance music for the sunbaked set. (buy)

Night Fiction by Cian Nugent – It can be a mixed bag when instrumental musicians (in this case, world-class guitarist Cian Nugent) decide to try their hand at being a singer-songwriter. Thankfully, this time around it works. Nugent adds depth to his already textured music. (buy)

Malibu by Anderson .Paak – Groovy, soulful, R&B, hip-hop, funk. (buy)

 

 

 

 

PAO! by Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra – I am a Phoenix native who loves afrobeat. How is it that I just discovered this band in 2016. Maybe because this is their first actual album and, having eight kids, we don’t make it out to as many shows as we’d like. Whatever the reason, I’m glad I found it. (buy)

A Sailor’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill SimpsonFollowing up a break-through album can be a challenge for any artist. Simpson tackles it by adding a horn section and Memphis soul to his psychedelic country sound. (buy)

Letting Go and Holding On by Shawn Skinner and the Men of Reason – Yes, I’m biased because these are some great friends. But dang it all if this isn’t a great album of sunbaked Americana. (buy)

 

 

 

 

A Seat At the Table by Solange – Exploring notions of black womanhood, this album could not have been more timely. Soulful, deep and moving. (buy)

Get ‘Em Next Time by Star & Micey – Sometimes you just need some fun rock and roll. Memphis’ Star & Micey are there with your fix. A solidly fun album 0f soulful indie pop-country. (buy)

Blue Mountain by Bob Weir – An album of reflecting on Weir’s early days in Wyoming, this album knows where it’s going and is in no hurry to get there. Self-assured and reflective, it is not only about looking back but continuing forward. (buy)

 

 

 

 

Schmilco by Wilco – Recorded in the same sessions as last year’s Star WarsSchmilco is a more understated affair. Largely acoustic and mellow, this album reveals more with each listen. (buy)

The Ghosts of Highway 20 by Lucinda Williams – Interstate 20 cuts a 1500-mile swath from South Carolina to Texas. This swatch of highway provides the backdrop for Williams to deal with love and loss. (buy)

City Sun Eater in the River of Light by Woods – Moving away from their blissed out alt. country, Woods incorporates bits of Ethiopian jazz to surprising effect (and affect). (buy)

  • Stream a two-volume mix of some of my favorite songs of 2016.

 

2016: The Year in Songs

This year’s year-end mix turned out to be much less thematic than last year’s mix. My wife thinks it’s “pretty dark” but I’m not sure about that (what do you think?). As I was putting this year’s mix together, I kept thinking of the fantastic Tom Waits quote: “Be devoted to the unification of the diverse aspects of yourself.”

I love all kinds of music. But mixes often focus on a particular genre or style. I tried to push that a little bit this year and placed afrobeat next to country, next to hip hop and ended up with a two-volume mix. I hope you don’t mind. The only song that didn’t make it on here was ‘Push’ by Phoenix Afrobeat Orchestra, because they are not on Spotify, so just imagine it’s here

Here you go.

Volume One:



Volume Two:



summershimmer (A Late Summer mix)

coverHere’s a late summer mix based mostly on a mood I like to call “summershimmer”. Some old songs, some new songs and some in-between songs.

Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

  1. Can’t See At All by Woods
  2. Wonderful Wizard by Guggenheim Grotto
  3. LA Lately by Israel Nash
  4. Out of My Mind (On Cope And Reed) by GospelbeacH
  5. On The Road Again by Canned Heat
  6. Vibration & Light Suite (edited) by Chris Robinson Brotherhood
  7. Paths by Seryn
  8. Heavy Sails by Steve Gunn
  9. Greens of June by case/lang/viers
  10. That’s How by Mike Cooper
  11. Dagger Bones by Los Halos

Download other mixes I’ve made:

  • Download Music From the Dash
  • Download three volumes of He Shines In All That’s Fair
  • Download a mix of my favorite 2015 songs

Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.

book-eye-glasses-ipod-love-music-Favim.com-1342041Welcome to this very irregular series where I chronicle some of what I’ve been reading and listening to lately. I like to be very intentional about the things I spend my time with and I also try to be very intentional about reflecting on those things. Yes, you might call it nerdy. Whatever. Don’t be mean. I’m a very sensitive soul.

Anyway, here’s what’s been going in lately:

Listening:

Several new albums have worked their way into my earholes this week:

SturgillSimpsonArt_zpsk5o3to2rA Salior’s Guide to Earth by Sturgill Simpson.

Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music was one of my top-five favorite albums of 2014. Having already established himself as one of the top voices in “outsider country” music, Simpson could have repeated himself and very few people would have batted an eye. Instead Simpson builds on his foundation with strings, horns and moody hooks. Perhaps what strikes most people is the cover of Nirvana‘s “In Bloom”. A well-done cover song is not only recognizable but becomes something new. The song takes on new life as its sung with a different voice and Simpson definitely has an ear for picking the right cover. His cover of When in Rome’s “The Promise” blew as many people away as his Nirvana cover has polarized. But trust me, it works exceedingly well in the context of the album as a whole. Themes of fatherhood, life, death and the days in between provide the groundwork for an artist clearly pushing himself and his audience. Highly recommended.

Check out the Nirvana cover in question:



Check out ‘Brace For Impact (Live A Little)’ live on Colbert:



woodsCity Sun Eater In The River Of Light by Woods

Woods is one of those bands that I’ve always thought highly of but never listened to deeply. No reason why. There are just some of those bands in our worlds, right? I’ve listened to a couple of their albums but never really spent significant time with any of them. That’s changed with their newest release, City Sun Eater In The River of Light. Highly influenced by Ethiopiques series, especially Ethiopian jazz, not many bands could make the jump from psychedelic folk to world music quite so seamlessly. In the words of Pitchfork, “Turns out Woods is one of them.”

Here’s the lead “single” “Sun City Creeps”:



tmr339_front_550Midwest Farmers Daughter by Margo Price

Reminding us that the resurgence of “real” and/or “outlaw” or “outsider” country (whatever you want to call it) doesn’t just belong to men, Price has fashioned a timeless album full of all the heartwarming heartbreak a great country album should deliver. With tales of personal struggle and sometimes victory, Price reminds us that country music is far from dead, despite what the charts tells us is popular.

Here’s “Hurtin’ (On The Bottle)” live at the Grand Ol’ Opry:



Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 2.57.13 PMMix From the Dashboard by Various Artists

Read my post about this mix that I happened across in my dashboard crap-hole. Featuring Anathallo, Ramsay Midwood and others, it’s a mix I have no recollection of making and seems to be a fairly random collection of songs. But I dig it.

Reading:

9780312373511_p0_v2_s192x300The Time Quintent by Madeleine L’Engle

So, for some reason, I never read L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time when I was younger. I don’t remember it ever being assigned reading though I always remember being aware of the book. So, I finally decided to read it and lo and behold, it’s the first of a five-book series! So I read the whole series. A great young adult fantasy/science-fiction series with lots of theological fodder for reflection. An entertaining and worthwhile read if you haven’t.

71qLnZuj5SL_zpsaqyp1mmzThings Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

I actually picked up this book at a garage sale only to find out later that its considered a classic by many and was in fact, assigned reading for many. Another case where the Glendale, AZ school system failed me with their assigned reading lists? Maybe I’m just too old and I was in school before it became assigned reading? Anyhow, I’m about half-way through it so far and its quite a good read and does what much of the best fiction does, draws you in to a world unlike your own.

gutierrez-theology-of-liberation-9780883445426-crop-325x325A Theology of Liberation by Gustavo Gutierrez

I don’t question the validity of penal substitutionary atonement nor its importance (and vital place) as a theory of the atonement. Perhaps even the primary theory but I am not sure it is the totality of the Gospel. I have long wanted to read authors and viewpoints outside of my normal traveling circles on this issue for quite some time and I’m starting with what many to consider to be a classic. Have you read it? Thoughts?

downloadBetween the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ve heard great things about this book for quite some time and I’m finally getting a chance to read it. Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” it just shows to go you that its never too late to get around to all that “required reading”.

 

Watching

91d053F2aKL._SY445_Kristi and I don’t get to watch a whole lot of television or movies for ourselves but sometimes we do like to watch something at bed-time. We watched Parks and Recreation all the way through and loved the characters. So it wasn’t a stretch to go back and watch The Office. We’re in season three and we’ve seen most but not all of the episodes up to this point but not much beyond that. As with any good television show, it’s the characters that keep you coming back for more. The Office is no exception, though you get a good idea pretty early on of what the characters are like, they are allowed to grow and grow on you from there.

 

the Weekly Town Crier

towncrierWell hi there. How are you? How’s your week been? was it a good week or a bad week? Was it a busy week or a slow week. Did your week leave you feeling weak?

Well have no fear, the Weekly Town Crier is here to inform you on all of the things about which you are ill informed. Or maybe he just collects links of interest and passes them along to you for your interest.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Louis Meyers, co-founder of SXSW.

R.I.P. Marco Rubio’s presidential bid.

Read Christianity Today‘s piece: “Israeli Christians Think and Do Almost the Opposite of American Evangelicals”.

Read about the Florida Sheriff who has pledged “to arrest CEO Tim Cook if Apple resists crypto cooperation”.

Read as Consequence of Sound considers the legacy of MTV’s 120 Minutes. Remember when the Music Television Network actually thought music mattered?

Read as jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb reflects on the making of some of Miles Davis‘ greatest albums at Uncut magazine.

Read as Paste magazine talks with a proponent of the flat earth theory.

Read as Flavorwire profiles Obama’s SXSW role this year.

Read as Peter Capaldi criticizes their BBC for neglecting Doctor Who.

Read as Damien Jurado talks with Paste and opens up about battle with depression: “I Went from the Light Really Into the Black.”

Read as Salon reports that the estate of Harper Lee has begun actions to cease the publication of the (rightly) ubiquitous mass market paperback edition of To Kill A Mocking bird.

Read Consequence of Sound‘s report that the Eagles are breaking up.

Read Brain Pickings‘ piece: “Neil Gaiman on How Stories Last”.

  • Read as The Guardian considers “Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: maybe a film adaptation just isn’t meant to be”.

Read as The Atlantic considers: “The Trader Joe‘s Lesson: How to Pay a Living Wage and Still Make Money in Retail”.

Read Uncrate‘s report that AC/DC is canceling the remainder of their tour dates as Brian Johnson faces total hearing loss.

Read as The Daily Beast profiles “The Stupidly Simple Spy Messages No Computer Could Decode”.

Read as Ars Technica reports: “Google AI goes 3-0, wins Go match against Lee Se-dol”.

Read as On The Media argues: “Why The Publishing Industry Isn’t In Peril”.

Read as Bryan Cranston tells The Advocate that he’d love to star in a Malcom in the Middle reunion.

Browse “The Scariest Urban Legend From Every State” at Thought Catalog.

Read about the “New company offering same-day in-home releases of new films”from Napster founder Sean Parker which has received the “backing of Abrams, Spielberg.”

Read Techly‘s report that “In Switzerland, It’s Illegal To Own Just One Guinea Pig Because They’re Prone To Loneliness”.

Browse Fast Company‘s list of “7 Interview Questions For Measuring Emotional Intelligence”.

Read Damn Interesting‘s profile of Colonel Sanders.

Crank Out Infinite Geometric Designs With The Wooden Cycloid Drawing Machine” at Colassal. 

Read Brooklyn Vegan‘s piece about an increasing problem: homeowners move into areas with (already) existing music venues and then make noise complaints, and win.

Read “Relevant”‘s report that Hillsong is getting its own television network.

Read reports that Christian celebrity speaker Mark Driscoll will launch his new speaking platform here in AZ on Easter Sunday.

Read The Observer‘s profile of Chris Forsyth & the Solar Motel Band on the release of their magnificent double album The Rarity of Experience. Forsyth discusses the influence of R.E.M, Television, the Dead and wonders on his Facebook page of the interview: “I talked a lot about why the Solar Motel Band is actually jazz band in flannel or something.”

  • Read Pitchfork‘s review of the album: “Solar Motel Band leader Chris Forsyth strikes a near-perfect balance between ’70s rock tradition and present-day experimentation with his signature guitar tone.”

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Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 2.05.42 PMWelcome to this week’s installment of “Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.”

If you haven’t guessed it by now, this is where I keep track of some of my media intake. You may or may not be in to the same things. That’s OK. Get your own website. It’s really not all that complicated. I’m sure you can figure it out. And while you are, here are some things for you to read, listen to, watch and/or consider.

Hope you enjoy.

Reading:

download_zps5o9nfob7Ok, so I’m still reading Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. OK?! So don’t want to talk about it.

Actually, who am I kidding, of course I want to talk about it! Are  you kidding me?!

I mean, come on. I can’t be the only person who would like to see this epic tale worked out for television by the people behind something like Downton Abbey. Let it play out over several seasons. Fetyukovich the Lawyer?! Smerdyakov?! And Ivan talks to the Devil? How is this going to work out?!

It’s definitely too much for a movie or even a miniseries. But, I think that the way we’ve been seeing some television series play themselves out as closed-ending stories, there might be hope. Watching something like LOST or Breaking Bad, stories which were told and allowed to end gives me hope that this story could be adapted for the screen.

But in the meantime, I love it and I’m glad I finally got around to reading it.

Music:

Damien JuradoVisions of Us On the Land

damien-jurado-visionsJurado’s label, Secretly Canadian, says the album, “completes the tale of an individual who has had to disappear from society in order to discover some universal truths”. NPR says: “As works of mood-altering music go, Jurado has upped the dosage with Visions. It’s a harrowing trip, led by a guide who’s all too familiar with the territory” (you can also stream the album at NPR Music.). Akin to Ryley Walker‘s take on Van Morrison‘s world, Visions of Us On The Land finds Jurado in top form, a soulful, sometimes psychedelic troubadour hitting his stride. It’s a beautiful and moving album.

Check out the official video for “Exit 353” here:


  • Visit Jurado’s official website

Star & MiceyGet ‘Em Next Time

Yes, I know I posted about these guys last week, but that’s how much I dig their stuff. I love coming across bands that just feel natural, like you’ve always liked them. Or at least you would have always liked them if you had known about them sooner. Star & Micey are that kind of band.

Here they are performing on a trolley in 2010. Dig it:


 

  • Visit Star & Micey’s official website
  • Buy the band’s music at Amazon

Reading, Listening, Watching, etc.

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 2.06.10 PMLet’s be honest here: these posts are more for me than you. I mean, I’m pleasantly pleased if you do read them and even more pleasantly pleased if you find something you like. But I like keeping track of things I’m reading, listening to and reading so that I can compare the things I’ve taken in with the things that make it to my “favorites of the year” list. I listen to a lot of music and I try to read, on average, a book a week (though it doesn’t always work out that way) and its neat to be able to look back and see how certain bands, songs, books, movies, television shows, etc. can remind you of very specific times in your life.

With all of that long-windedness in mind, here is some of what I’ve been digging lately:

Reading:

Brothers Karamozov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

download_zps5o9nfob7Yes, I’m still making my way through Brothers Karamozov. Want to make something of it? What, you think you’re world’s fastest reader or something? Well, maybe you are. How was I supposed to know. Anyways, it’s really good.

 

ESV Journaling Bible, Interleaved Edition

Image-1I recently picked up the Interleaved edition of the ESV journaling bible. I love to make lots of notes, draw and doodle. It helps me process, so I was considering having a custom bible bound but I went ahead and opted for the interleaved ESV Journaling Bible. I went with the brown cloth one and overall I really like it. I wish the pages were a bit thicker but then again I didn’t want to go to the time and trouble to design my own so I can’t/won’t complain too much.

Listening:

Gaelynn Lea/Murder of Crows

unnamedNPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts have a now-annual contest to be given a Tiny Desk Concert. This year’s winner, Gaelynn Lea beat out over 6,000 other entries and it’s easy to see why. Combining looping with ancient Irish melodies, Lea creates hauntingly beautiful songs. If you haven’t seen the contest-winning video, peep it here. The visuals focus on the desk until the melody has sufficiently captured you. Then, once the vocals come in, the camera pans 61XsgKA2poL._SS280back to reveal Lea, a small woman in a wheelchair who plays the violin like others would the cello. Far from being a hindrance, Lea’s size makes her approach to the violin utterly unique.

Lea also plays with Low/Retribution Gospel Choir/Black Eyed Snakes guy Alan Sparkhawk as Murder of Crows. Watch Lea’s Tiny Desk Concert featuring Sparhawk here:



And watch the duo perform one of my current favorite songs, “Your Battle” in 2011:



  • Visit Gaelynn Lea’s website
  • Visit Murder of Crow’s website
  • Read an interview with Lea about working with Sparhawk
  • Buy Lea’s music at Amazon

Star & Micey

51no5jBV5pL._SS280Memphis’ Star & Micey just released their debut LP (they have released several EPs and singles) Get ‘Em Next Time. The band creates infectious and urgent good ol’ rockitty roll and dangitall if they aren’t just really good. They are. I like them. I think you might too.

You can stream the album now at Soundcloud, or check out the band performing “I Can’t Wait” for Audiotree:



Here’s “Everything” from the same Audiotree sessions:



  • Visit Star & Micey’s official website
  • Buy the band’s music at Amazon

Mount Moriah

mountmoriah_zpse2d7rjru As if we haven’t already had enough musical goodness today, I want to add Chapel Hill’s Mount Moriah to the mix. The band’s newest album How To Dance has become one of my favorites of the year so far. Paste magazine named the band “the best of what’s next” way back in 2013 and the band has only solidified their sound since then. Describing the band’s maturation, Pitchfork says: “The trio is now so fluent in roots music that it passes as their native tongue.”

Here’s the band as a duo performing “Calvander” for Paste:



Watch the official video for the track “Precita”:



  • Visit the band’s official website

Watching:

Parks and Recreation

maxresdefaultWe are almost all the way through Parks and Recreation. We don’t watch much “live television” so we’ve seen the show but never regularly. That’s the beauty of a service like Netflix or Amazon Prime. We’ve just about made our way through the show and it’s been really good. Like any good show, it is filled with great characters who have been not only casted well but developed over time.

Watch Ron Swanson on Snake Juice:



What media have you been digging lately, my faithful pop culture digging friends?!

Reading and Listening (And Watching)

Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 2.10.25 PMWell hidey ho there, neighboroony! How are you doing on this fine-feathered day? How is your physical health? Fine, I hope? And how is your spiritual health? How is your soul? Can you say, and mean it: it is well with my soul? If not, why not? If so, bully for you! What’s in the air tonight that makes it well with your soul? If not, what is blocking your soul from wellness and how can I help? Remember, kids, pain is just weakness leaving the body and, with apologies to Ron Swanson, crying is acceptable at more circumstances than simply funerals and the Grand Canyon, though it is certainly acceptable then too.

Whew.

Shake it off.

Leave it behind.

Keep.

Moving.

Forward.

Feel it?

Ahh, now that we’ve worked through some pretty heavy stuff, I’d like to share with you some of the things that I’ve been accepting into my cultural intake valves this week.

Reading:

download_zps5o9nfob7Ain’t no shame in my game; Yes I’m still working through Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov. Give me a break, it’s over 700 pages, for crying out loud! I’m around 450 pages in, which is the equivalent of several books! Plus, we’re 10 weeks into the year and I’ve already read 13 books, which puts me ahead of schedule for my desire to read 1 book/week during 2016. I know it’s an arbitrary goal and I am not willing to rush my reading simply to keep after an arbitrarily self-assigned goal.

So, with all that being said, I love this book. I have previously let its length dissuade me from tackling it. That, and in all honesty, I have been somewhat been put-off by the “Russian literature” thing. I envisioned it to be cold, stark and brutal, much like architecture of  Russian busstops. But this book is anything but cold, stark, or brutal. The characters brim with warmth and true personality. You may not like the Karamozov family but Dostoyevsky creates them with such depth that you are drawn in to their tragic tale. With with and wisdom, Dostoyevsky creates empathy for some truly horrible people, reminding us that, the greatest of these is love.

Listening:

Holy, Moly, Me Oh My, what a great week for music releases. I picked up several new releases that I’m really excited to listen to. In nothing more than alphabetical order, I am really enjoying this week:

downloadChris Forsyth & the Solar Motel BandThe Rarity of Experience. Guitar rock rocker Chris Forsyth continues with the band originally assembled for the Solar Motel Band album and the results are spectacular. Given the room of a double album, the band pushes further into some experimental psychedelic rock, including the addition of vocals. Given the room to stretch, the Solar Motel Band prove themselves to be a musical force. There are a few guitarists/songwriters that I would say are really at the top of their game right now dancing with the Dead‘s legacy: Kurt Vile, Steve Gunn, to name a couple. And, definitely Chris Forsyth. Great, straight-ahead, sometimes psychedelic guitar rock. Yes, and amen.

  • Read Tiny Mix Tapes‘ review of The Rarity of Experience.

homepage_large.31d39fa4Esperanza Spalding: Emily’s D+Evolution. Renowned bassist Esperanza Spalding has worked for her renown, paying her dues in overlapping worlds of jazz, soul, blues. But she seems to be an artist who realizes that as commercial success increases, the ability to truly be fueled by creativity often decreases. After taking two years away from the music business, Spalding emerges confidently to continue pushing boundaries. Soulful and artsy.

  • Read as Pitchfork names Emily’s D+Evolution “Best New Music”.

la-sera-music-for-listening-album-ryan-adamsLa Sera Music for Listening to Music to. Produced by Ryan AdamsMusic for Listening to Music to carries equal echoes of Adams’ alt. country and the Smiths. Plenty of jangly hooks and hints of soulful swagger with nonchalant but not entirely non-committal vocal deliveries. Not quite detached but also not entirely present.

  • Read The Guardian‘s review: “less garage rock, more Smiths”.

a3167971903_16Guerilla Toss: Eraser Stargazer: Existing somewhere in the ether of what many might call “n0 wave” (not so much a genre in and of itself as the intersection of dance, rock, pop, punk, funk and noise), Guerilla Toss have just released their follow-up to the 2015 Flood Dosed EPEraser Stargazer. Often subversive and usually danceable (not that I do much dancing myself, but if I were so inclined, this music would definitely work).

  • Read Sound Implosion‘s review: “To some, no-wave and dance-punk might not seem like things that should be mixed, but . . . Guerilla Toss definitely succeed”.

Watching:

outsiders_mountain_MWGN’s Outsiders. Ged, Ged-yeh. Part the Killing, Sons of Anarchy and Twin Peaks, the show starts out strong with plenty of mystery surrounding the Farrell clan, a family who has squatted on the same KY mountain for hundreds of years. The Big Bad Coal Company wants their land and all sorts of mayhem ensues. A morally ambiguous sheriff finds himself at the center of the conflict. All of this is fine but the show really succeeds on the strength of the characters. The show may not win any major awards but it is worth the time.

  • Read Variety‘s review of the show.

the Weekly Town Crier

London's Town Crier copyI don’t know about you but I love spicy artichoke jalapeño dip. I mean, with some wavy potato chips or the thicker plain chips. Not the thin ones because the dip is too thick for those sissy chips. No sissy chips up in he-yah. Know what I mean, Vern?

Man, sometimes it just hits the spot if you know what I mean. No? Well, you really should try some.

Buy my art here or here or contact me directly to purchase originals.

Visit our family blog: “The Thomas Ten.”

Browse Large Hearted Boy‘s list of “100 Online Sources for Free and Legal Music Downloads.”

Listen to a mix of some of my favorite songs released in 2015.

Browse my 42 favorite albums of 2015.

Download a three-volume mix of Jesusy songs I collected.

R.I.P. Harper Lee.

R.I.P. Umberto Eco.

R.I.P. Samuel Willenberg, “the last known survivor of the Nazi death camp Treblinka.”

R.I.P. Jeb Bush’s presidential bid.

R.I.P. Ben Carson’s presidential campaign.

R.I.P. First Lady Nancy Reagan.

Browse the lineup for this year’s Pitchfork music festival.

Browse Phoenix New Times‘ list of “Arizona’s 30 Most Influential Musicians.”

Learn about caffeinated toothpaste.

Read about Sub Pop Records offering “college scholarships to ‘losers’ and ‘art-enthused misfits'”.

Read as Smithsonian considers “How the Phonograph Changed Music Forever”.

Read as Salon argues: “Stop buying old Bob Dylan albums: “Every time somebody buys a reissue, they’re just taking money away from new musicians”. But I like Bob Dylan and new music . . .

Watch a “1970 documentary about Hunter S. Thompson‘s run for mayor of Aspen”.

  • Read as The Washington Post opines: “If only Hunter S. Thompson could have lived to take on this election”.

Browse as NPR’s Jazz Night In America considers the history of “Jazz slang”.

Read as The Washington Post considers three cocktails that “pair perfectly with classic literature”.

Read USA Today‘s profile of Mavis Staples.

Browse as The Guardian compares streaming services.

Browse Paste‘s picks for “10 Essential Short Story Collections”.

Read as The Guardian considers: “Slave to the algorithm? How music fans can reclaim their playlists from Spotify“.

Read as Consequence of Sound reports that a “Fall Coachella Festival” is imminent.

Read reports that Apple is implementing a trade-in program for iPhones.

Read Vinyl Factory‘s report that new printed city guides for vinyl are being made available for select cities.

Read The Atlantic‘s report on the return of Planet Earth.

Ever wonder why you sometimes feel “phantom phone vibrations”?

Read Smithsonian‘s piece: “Long Before Jack Daniels, George Washington Was a Whiskey Tycoon.”

Read as Gillian Anderson talks about Dave Grohl‘s X-Files cameo and how it came to be.

Read as AV Club urges us to reconsider “the grim and gritty Dark Age of superhero comics.”

Read Live For Live Music‘s report: “The Leaked Tracklisting For The National‘s Extensive Grateful Dead Tribute Is Incredible”.

Hear “a giant 800-track alt/indie-focused 90’s playlist in chronological order”.

Read about the new vinyl-pressing plant promising tw0-week turnaround.

Read CNN‘s report: “Beyoncé offered security for concert by Louis Farrakhan“.

Browse as Consequence of Sound considers “Which Artists Are Still Holding Out on Streaming”.

Browse “Relevant”‘s list of “8 Biographies Everyone Should Read”.

Read Paste‘s report: “Pixar Made an App That Helps the Blind Experience Movies”.

Read Fact Magazine‘s report: “Discogs sold 6.6 million records in 2015”.

Watch Bill Gates DJ on Jimmy Fallon.

See shoes that grow with you.

Read “Relevant”‘s piece: “Justin Bieber: Without God I’d Be a Terrible Person”.

Listen as the BBC discusses poetry form.

Read as Lucinda Williams discusses her discography with Spin.

Browse Flavorwire‘s picks for “The 10 Albums You Need to Hear in March”.

Ever wonder: “How Does ‘A Wrinkle in Time‘ Look on a Map?”

Read Paste‘s: “4 Questions for Brooklyn Brewery’s Garrett Oliver”.