Kurt Warner, quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, announced his retirement today. In my short lifetime as a sports fan, I have encountered few athletes who carried themselves with the same dignity and grace as Warner. Though he played for a football team on the wrong side of the state of Missouri (the St. Louis Rams), I couldn't help but root for him. Seth Wickersham, University of Missouri alum and current writer for ESPN The Magazine, wrote a poignant tribute to this unique man. Read below.
Seth Wickersham - "Hailing Warner's Unique Story"
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Here is an interesting article from last October's Psychiatric Times. The article, written by Dr. Lauren LaPorta, examines the effects of social networking on the human psyche and our ability to maintain healthy relationships. I found it to be eye-opening and incredibly accurate. Though social networking sites seem to facilitate meaningful relationships, in reality they create pseudo intimacy. We know about our friends, but we don't actually know them. Read for yourself below.
January has been cold. But 2010 is shaping up to be an incredible year in music. My favorite album so far this month: Beach House's Teen Dream. It dropped today and I'm obsessed. I find it to be much more accessible than their previous work. Swirling keyboards; soaring vocals; tinkling beat machines. It is worth your time. By the way, the band will be in Lawrence, Kansas on April 6 and Dallas on April 21. It is my goal to be at one of those shows.
Beach House - "Silver Soul" (link removed by request)
Sunday, January 24, 2010
This week's edition of The New Yorker features an interesting essay by Nick Paumgarten entitled "Driving and Crying". In light of recent hit-and-run allegations against a former NYPD Police Chief (in which the alleged backed into a pregnant woman and fled the scene), Paumgarten comments on the tendency of adults to shirk responsibility. He states, "You learn, at an early age, to own up to your mistakes and misdeeds; and then, apparently, at some later age, you learn to disown them." The author goes on to explore Mark McGwire, NBC in the Leno v. Conan debacle, and bankers amidst the financial meltdown as likeminded offenders. I found his commentary to be extremely insightful. It is worth the three minutes it takes to read the essay. Check it out below.
Facing North, Barrow, Alaska © Ben Huff
I first heard this song a month or two ago on 22tracks.com. Then it popped up on Pitchfork's "Best New Tracks" list. Now I'm putting it on the blog. If it sounds like a modern version of a song that could have been popular in the 80's, that's because Sade first became popular back then. You'll find this song as the title track to her forthcoming album which drops February 8. Enjoy.
Sade - "Soldier of Love" (link removed by request)
Sade - "Soldier of Love" (link removed by request)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
What a pleasant surprise. Pitchfork's "Best New Music" designation gave me the nudge I needed to look into Astro Coast by Surfer Blood. (I mean what kind of name is Surfer Blood anyway). These Floridians make fun, Weezer-inspired, indie-rock. I predict this album will sneak its way into my headphones and car speakers more times than I can count this year. Check out two of my favorites from the album below.
I await next week's release of Beach House's third album in eager anticipation. The single "Used To Be", which I have worn out in the 13 months since its release, finds its home on this Tuesday Teen Dream. Check out the music video for the track below, and grab this album as soon as you can.
After hearing his performance on public radio station WNYC's "Soundcheck", I am ultra excited for the upcoming solo album from Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi Birgisson. The album, entitled Go, drops March 23. This live performance features Jonsi flying solo, Picture the same delicately powerful vocals supported by a lone guitar (or ukelele or piano, depending on the song). It makes for one of the greatest radio performances I've heard in quite some time. Download the performance below. If you are OCD like me (and you have a Mac), use GarageBand to cut the performance mp3 up into separate tracks.
Jonsi Birgisson - WNYC "Soundcheck"
Jonsi Birgisson - WNYC "Soundcheck"
Friday, January 22, 2010
I watched the finale of Season 1 of Mad Men this evening. Yeah, I know. I'm a bit behind the times as far as this show is concerned. As the closing credits ran, the song "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" by Bob Dylan played. What an incredible song.
I am a big fan of She and Him, the indie-darling duo of M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel (Ben Gibbard's bride). Check out a new track from their forthcoming sophomore album Volume Two, set to drop on March 23.
She and Him - "In The Sun"
She and Him - "In The Sun"
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Throw together the Swedish duo jj together with Usher lyrics and a verse spit by none other than Lil' Wayne and this is what you get - "My Way". I can confidently say that this is my favorite song of 2010 thus far. I've also included another jj tune which the artists' label, Sincerely Yours, released for free. I think you'll enjoy both.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
In addition to the Vampire Weekend record, which deserves your attention, two other high quality albums dropped last week. Check out the album covers and a track from each below.
Owen Pallett - Heartland
Listen/Download - "Red Sun No. 5"
Laura Veirs - July Flame
Listen/Download - "Carol Kaye" (Link removed by request)
Monday, January 18, 2010
Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the greatest leaders in our nation's history. His persistent vision, unending resolve, indefatigable grace, and compelling style of communication gave rise to a movement of love and equality that drastically impacted, and still does impact, our country. In honor of his birthday, I am posting a video of his "I Have A Dream Speech" here on the blog. You can also read the text of that speech here.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
The tragedy that occurred at Columbine High School was a unique event in my life. It was 1999. I was finishing up my sophomore year at high school and had just turned sixteen. Like few other events of this proportion which have taken place in my lifetime, I could easily stand in the shoes of the victims. The world of Columbine High School, in suburban Denver, was not much different from Liberty High School, in suburban Kansas City, where I attended. We had jocks, and goths, and nerds, and cliques, and fights, and insults just the same. Over the my final two years as a high school student, the fallout of this event would drastically impact the daily flow and security of my school.
Dave Cullen spent the last ten years scouring police reports, interviews, diaries, and videos of the assailants and their victims. Columbine is a meticulously crafted narrative of both the massacre and events leading up to the fateful day. Though the majority of us remember this as retaliation against insensitive jocks and popular kids, Cullen pursues this story beyond the easy explanations to uncover the truth behind this confusing tragedy. I can't put this book down. It has consumed my weekend. Check it out.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Check out iTunes' Free Download of the Week for the week of 1/11. The free track this week is "Norway" by Beach House. Not a bad deal when you get a super cool track for free. Check out the band's forthcoming album Teen Dream, due out January 25.
Vampire Weekend has successfully avoided the sophomore slump. Contra is a great album, full of feather-light percussion, sunny melodies, and progressive ideas. It may be January but these 10 tracks are best suited in the warm reds and yellows of summer. My favorite track from the album changes with every listen. Check it out.
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Last night I went to see Up In The Air, the critically-acclaimed film starring George Clooney. Clooney's character, Ryan Bingham, is a corporate downsizer, traveling from city to city to perform layoffs for companies too cowardly to do the dirty work themselves. I found this movie to be a compelling look at the loss of community in America. It makes a powerful statement on the struggle to live in relationship amidst the pervasive technology and quickening pace of the modern world. Definitely my favorite movie of the year.
Friday, January 8, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Monday, January 4, 2010
© Lucas CooperLucas Cooper. This is a picture of the Sea of Galilee taken this summer. Click on the image to enlarge. The size above doesn't do the photograph justice. Lucas is the brother of one of my best friends.
Saturday, January 2, 2010
From an album perspective, I didn't find 2009 to be a superlative year for music. Quite a few albums possessed one or two gems, but few, if any, were good from top to bottom. As a result, I have limited my Best Of list to only 5 albums, with some honorable mentions thrown in for good measure.
Washed Out - Life of Leisure
Bon Iver - Blood Bank EP
Warpaint - Exquisite Corpse
Discovery - LP
Yim Yames - Tribute To EP
5. Grizzly Bear - Veckatimest
You get the feeling that every note in the entire album was charted with a specific purpose. My ears were set ablaze the moment I heard the opening keys of "Two Weeks". Still, maybe the highlight of the album for me is in the middle, the two low-key jams ("Ready, Able" and "About Face"). This is an exquisite collection of songs, though, if you are like me, you may need to be in a certain mood to really appreciate them.
For most of the year, the only track from this album I listened to was "People Got A Lotta Nerve" - and that only because I found it on a free music sampler. Fortunately, I finally gave the album a shot. Amidst the country twang, this album highlight's one of the more powerful voices in the indie world today. Listen to "Magpie To The Morning" and you'll see what I mean.
This album dropped in January, and I spent the entire year searching for the perfect analogy to summarize Animal Collective's sound. I think I've found it. AC is the Jackson Pollock of the music world. At first listen, it might seem like a hodge-podge of sound, thrown together without purpose. Yet, upon closer inspection, the music comes to life, and you realize that what makes it special is that no one ever thought to try it. Go see a Pollock painting and you'll have the same experience.
Phoenix is my band of the year. They had put out two of the best singles. They had maybe the best performance I've ever seen on Saturday Night Live. They performed super cool renditions of their hits on the streets of Paris. But, I'll admit, that I didn't spend much time in this album beyond the first three tracks. Still, those three tracks were powerful enough to land this album in the number two spot.
This isn't a cool pick. But top to bottom, I listened to this album more than any other this year. I love Tracyanne Campbell's voice. I love the band's vintage sound. I love the strings that so delicately adorn each song. It's my album of the year.
Friday, January 1, 2010
Here's something to buy with all that Christmas money. It's by my fave photog and good friend Allison V. Smith. This is her 4th zine. I was lucky enough to snag copy #1! I even got my package in a picture (see below) on her blog. I'm so famous now.
Go here to buy it. Seriously though. Buy it.