Monday, December 29, 2008

Forgot One

© Matt Nager
I almost forgot this picture - maybe my favorite from all of Matt Nager's fog photos.  These remind me of trips across Kansas I took as a child to see my grandparents.  Great memories!  

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

All images © Matthew Nager
Matthew Nager has already been a Photographer of the Day on this blog.  But he absolutely killed it with some recent photos taken out in the Texas fog, so I wanted to give him some love.  Go check out his photographs at his blog.  His latest shots remind me of those that were on display at this exhibition at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City.

- Joel

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Traditions

Though we don't have as many Christmas traditions as Thanksgiving traditions, we do have a number of fun things that happen every year at Christmas.  Here's a list.

1. Dinner on the Plaza (my treat) - we ate at the Classic Cup this year
2. Open stockings first then presents on Christmas morning
3. Christmas morning breakfast including egg casserole, cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza, and sparkling grape juice
4. Mid-afternoon meal with the relatives in KC, with Aunts Cindy & Charlotte bringing dessert
5. Laser tag with everyone
6. Bowling

We have others, but they are pretty much the same as most everyone in the country (for example: Christmas gift exchange with the extended family).  These are the most interesting.

- Joel


It's late.  After a full day of Christmas festivities, I fell asleep for a bit after dinner.  Now I'm up late, unable to get back to sleep, and looking through my music.  Here's a new band I'd never heard of until tonight: Fredrik.  You can find two of their tracks in this free music sampler.  You can also check out their website or their Myspace.  Or just click on one of the videos below.

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Amelia Bauer

© Amelia Bauer
I saw the picture above on the Department of Eagles' website (Bauer also did their cover art).   I noticed the credit to Amelia Bauer which led me to her website.  She is part photographer, part illustrator, part graphic artist, all creative.  I really loved her stuff.  Check it out.

- Joel

Free Music

What better way to spend Christmas Eve afternoon than sitting on the couch next to the tree, watching Home Alone 2 and reading up on new music?  I came across this post on Stereogum.  You can download their "Top 50 Most Popular MP3's of 2008."  Since they primarily cover indie music, their 50 most popular mp3's consist of indie faves and under the radar hits.  It's worth a look.  Plus, 50 free (and legal songs)!  The list includes tracks from some of my faves like Fleet Foxes, Ratatat, Department of Eagles, and Peter Bjorn and John.

What a Christmas gift!

- Joel

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Year End List

I'm waiting until after Christmas to compile my year-end Best Music of 2008 List. I'm sure soooo many people are waiting in eager anticipation. Actually, I just don't have the money to buy tons and tons of music, so there are a few great albums I am hoping to receive as Christmas presents. After listening to those albums, I'll be able to give a more well-informed opinion. However, as I thought about my favorite music of 2008, I was reminded of what a great music year 2007 was. Here's my Top 10 Favorite Albums from last year:

1. LCD Soundsystem - Sound of Silver
2. Panda Bear - Person Pitch
3. Spoon - Ga Ga Ga Ga GA
4. Radiohead - In Rainbows
5. Peter Bjorn & John - Writer's Block
6. Kanye West - Graduation (I would have rated this lower looking back)
7. Feist - The Reminder
8. Ben Rector - Twenty Tomorrow
9. Jay-Z - American Gangster (this wouldn't have been in my top 10 looking back)
10. Band of Horses - Cease to Begin

Excluding Kanye and Jay-Z, I still listen to the entire list from 2007 on a regular basis. Though they were in my Top 10 last year, I have grown to appreciate and enjoy these albums even more one year later. Even though writers, bloggers, critics, me etc. love to put out year-end lists, maybe the most useful of evaluation of the year's best music comes one year later when we look at what we still listen to. Just a thought. I wonder what I'll still be listening to this time next year.

Stay tuned for my list after Christmas!

- Joel

Monday, December 22, 2008

Photographer of the Day

© Gary Bishop
Gary Bishop.  I met Gary two weeks ago in Dallas, TX at the opening of a show at Road Agent Gallery.  I was standing next to Allison, who everyone in the room knows or wants to know (she's kind of a big deal).  Gary really wanted to talk to Allison.  When her attention was diverted, he would talk to me by default.  This is not a knock on Gary but a compliment to Allison.  Also, Gary's photography is great.  Check it out.

- Joel

A Familyre Christmas

Sounds Familyre, the label that released Sufjan Stevens' album Seven Swans, has two holiday albums for free download on their blog. These collections, A Familyre Christmas Volumes 1 & 2, even include Mr. Stevens himself. Volume 1 was released previously, but Volume 2 is new this year. If you enjoy an alternative take on Christmas classics, you'll enjoy this. Plus, it's free to download, so why not?

- Joel

Download them here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

On the Way

© Joel Thomason
As I've said, last weekend I moved my stuff from Dallas to Kansas City. It was the second time making the 560 mile drive in the past two months. Maybe it's because my roots are in Kansas, or maybe it's because I genuinely appreciate the beauty of the vast expanse that is Kansas, but I love the plains. Here are two shots from the front seat as I trekked back in October.

- Joel

© Joel Thomason

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Alphabeat is a Danish pop band.  Their sound is straight out of the 80's.  Their song "Fascination" has made it onto a few "Best of" lists.  It is really fun.  They have been around since 2007 in Europe but are just now starting to gain a following here in the United States.  Enjoy.

- Joel

Welcome Wagon

Here's The Welcome Wagon playing the opening track, 'Up on a Mountain", of their new album. Enjoy.

- Joel

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Dominican Republic

As some may know, I recently decided to leave my job.  Though voluntarily relinquishing a position in the face of the worst economic crisis in decades may not seem to be a wise decision, I have been blessed with an opportunity to join a medical mission team traveling to the Dominican Republic at the end of January.  This specific team includes a number of dentists, oral surgeons, and dental hygienists who will be offering their services in and around the capital city of Santo Domingo.  I will obviously assist in non-medical capacities, and will also work to serve the families before and after their treatment.  This will be my first time leaving the United States.  This will also be my first time serving in the midst of such pervasive poverty.  What excites me most, besides the opportunity to tangibly serve those in need, is the chance to remove the focus of my life from myself and direct it to other people.

Here is the dilemma - I need to raise $1300-1500.  Because I am joining the team so late, I must expedite the fund raising process.  I am unsure of who, or how many, actually reads this blog, but I made the decision to communicate my need for financial support from this platform.  I will also be sending out support letters.  This trip is part of the efforts of Vision Trust, a non-profit organization, thus all donations are tax deductible.  If you are interested in supporting this trip, please email me at - I will provide you with further information.  I'll even do this - if you support me, I'll send you a limited edition photograph made on my trip!  You can't beat that!!!

This will be the one and only time I make this ask from the platform of the blog.  I'll stick to music and literature and other fun things.  However, you can expect lots of cool pictures upon my return.  Thanks for reading!  

- Joel

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Next Purchase?

I'm kind of feeling these shoes.  They're called Chengs Plimsoll and they are only $18.  They might be worth a shot for that cheap.

- Joel

Song of the Year?

"Blind" by Hercules and Love Affair was awarded Song of the Year by Pitchfork Media today.  They listed their Top 100 Songs of the Year and this song topped the list.  I bought the album back over the summer but have yet to really get into it.  It's certainly different.  The guy singing in this particular song is Antony of Antony and The Johnsons.  You could call this style "Disco Revolution."  What the video for the song below?  What do you think?  Is it Song of the Year worthy?  My vote is still for Bleeding Love by Leona Lewis.  I'll be producing my top albums and top songs of 2008 after Christmas.

- Joel

Monday, December 15, 2008

Aaron Roche

I heard about Aaron Roche from my friend Ben today.  Ben is a talented musician himself.  Check his stuff out while you're at it.  

Anyway, Aaron Roche plays pretty low-key, warm melodies.  There are parts of his music that remind me of Sufjan Stevens.  Other parts remind me of Joseph Arthur or Iron & Wine.  I like his voice a lot.  You can download two songs off of his new record Travel here.  Also, watch a video for his song "My Love Is Grown" below.  Check out his Myspace page too.  As far as I know, you can only buy his stuff through Myspace.  I couldn't find him on iTunes.

- Joel


It was a great weekend in Dallas.  So much happened.  Here's a recap and shout outs....

Thanks to Matt Rees, Brady Smith, and Travis Patty for helping to load my stuff in Dallas and to Cindy, Brad, Dave, Mom, Dad, and Kyle for helping unload it in Kansas City.  It was an enormous help.

Shout out to Jeff & Nicole Whittington.  They picked me up from the airport, had dinner at Gloria's, and had Sunday breakfast at Bubba's - where we saw Justin Leonard.  Also, be on the lookout for Jeff's solo record.  I don't know when he'll start recording, but I'll be buying one as soon as it drops.

Shout out to Cassie Edmondson.  She gave me a great Christmas present - some of her very own hand made Christmas cards which are on sale at Grange Hall in Dallas.  She joined us for dinner at Gloria's and I bumped into her at The Public Trust opening on Saturday.

Shout out to Nan Coulter.  She has a website, but it's not really a website, more like a place holder.  I don't know if I've met anyone more full of life than Nan.  I had the pleasure of meeting her at The Road Agent opening.

Shout out to Allison Smith and Leila Grothe.  I got to hang with them at the Barry Whistler opening and tag along to a few other openings as well.  Leila and Jonathan came to Bubba's Saturday.  Allison had a good excuse for missing out because she was a part of The Polyphonic Spree the night before.  What a rock star!

It was a busy weekend full of hanging out with people way cooler than I am.  Thanks for everything.

- Joel

Saturday, December 13, 2008


© Ann Stautberg
I'm sitting in Panera in Dallas.  I walked here from my apartment.  I guess technically it's "my old apartment" because I moved all my stuff out today.  It's been a bittersweet day.  At 25, there are so many things I have yet to experience or am only experiencing for the first time.  One of them is major change.  In the last year I've made two major moves (to Dallas and then to Kansas City).   I've also had two "real" jobs - the second of which I just quit yesterday.  Yikes!  The year has taken it's toll on me.  What happens when you're 25 and you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up?  I guess you quit your job and join a medical mission trip to the Dominican Republic, because that's what I'm doing.  More on the trip to the Dominican later.  But it's exciting.  This sounds so cheesy (but it fits with what I'm doing tonight), but I'm beginning to see my life as a blank canvas and I'm only now realizing that I have the brush and the paint.

Anyway, back to what I'm doing tonight.  I'll be meeting up with a few friends - Leila & Allison - at the Barry Whistler Gallery for the opening of Ann Stautberg's new show.  You can read more on Ann Stautberg here and here and here.  It's going to be fun.

- Joel

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Welcome Wagon

Speaking of Asthmatic Kitty (see previous post), they have a new band on the label. The Welcome Wagon are Reverend Thomas Vito Aiuto and his wife Monique. Rev. Vito planted Resurrection Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn, NY. No matter your religious affiliation (or non-affiliation), you should check out this catchy indie-folk band. They just released their new album, Welcome to the The Welcome Wagon, on Tuesday. You can download a free mp3 here - but it's not my favorite track on the album, so don't rush to judge. Thanks to Anthony for giving me the heads up about this band.

Check out the cool photos from their record release party on Flickr.

- Joel

Christmas Sufjan

A few years ago, one of my favorites, Sufjan Stevens, released a 5-disc Christmas celebration (what besides celebration can you call 5 discs of indie-folk Christmas music?).  Sufjan's friend Tom Eaton animated this music video for the song "Put the Lights On the Tree."  In addition to this fun video, you can find quite a few free Christmas goodies offered by Sufjan's record label Asthmatic Kitty.  Seriously, check out the goodies - they even have free ringtones and mp3s.


- Joel

P.S. - Ask me about the debacle I had trying to find this album at Best Buy a few years ago.  "What was that?  Snoop Dogg?  Surf God?...."  Another reason to boycott Best Buy!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Why Didn't I Know About This Sooner?

© Trey Kazee
I didn't know Trey had a website.  He's a great photographer. 

- Joel

No One's Better Sake

I think this is my favorite song on the Little Joy record.  I've posted about them a few too many times, but this song is going on the mixtape I'm making for Nicole & Jeff.  Here's the music video that was just released.

- Joel

Monday, December 8, 2008

Photographer of the Day/Christmas Present

Eudora's Library © Susanna Raab
I'm asking for one of these limited edition prints for Christmas.  You can too!  This picture is of Eudora Welty's library.  Welty was a Southern writer.

- Joel

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Uglysuit

The song "Chicago" by The Uglysuit made it into my Reception Dinner playlist this weekend. The Uglysuit hail from Oklahoma City, home of my good friend Matt Rees.  I find this melody to be relaxing.  Enjoy.

- Joel

Dallas Next Weekend

Photo: Nicole Whittington

Just got back from a good weekend in Waco.  Since they paid me for my DJ services, does that make me a professional DJ?

Now it's time to look forward to next weekend in Dallas.  You never know what kind of fun will be had with the Dallas crew.  The above photo is evidence of that.  Thanks Nicole for posting that on Flickr.  Can't wait to see you guys next weekend!

- Joel


I heard about Twitter over the summer from a consulting company I worked with during my days at the O'Donnell Foundation.  Initially, I thought it was ridiculous and narcissistic.  Tonight, I started my own Twitter account.  Maybe I'm ridiculous and narcissistic.  

Be my friend.  Get a Twitter.  Start following me (and I'll follow you).  Here's my account.  If you have an iPhone, Twitter has a great iPhone app.

- Joel

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Other Music News

I'm on a music kick with the latest blog posts.  I need to develop some film or go to an art show (next week in Dallas!) to get something else to blog about.  But here are some other things to check out in the music world:

New Mixtape (Download Free): "Road to Til the Casket Drops" Clipse
Worth Checking Out (Download Free): Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit Are The Very Best

- Joel

She & Him

Tomorrow I fly to Waco, TX to help DJ/emcee another wedding.  One of my personal travel assignments, besides hopefully taking good pictures with my Holga, is to listen to She & Him.  This band consists of actress Zooey Deschanel and indie/folk hero M. Ward.  I've had their album, Volume One, for awhile but never gave it a good listen.  Now it's popping up on some year end "Best of" lists, so I need to find out what all the fuss is about.  Listen for yourself.  Zooey has such an "old-timey" sounding voice.  It's cool.

- Joel

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Live Indie Rock

Pitchfork posted their "Best of".   There are lots of great live videos recorded by and for  Check it out.  Below is one of the highlights...Vampire Weekend.

- Joel