Monday, January 31, 2011

Spoon - Take Away Show

Spoon is my favorite band that I have yet to see in person (besides The Beatles of course, which is impossible, until I finish building my time machine). I'm becoming more and more keen on the idea of attending law school in Austin, Texas, which just so happens to be where these guys reside. Maybe I'd get to see them then. Check out an excellent performance of theirs in Paris for La Blogotheque. If you like what you hear, you can download the recordings here. While all three songs were excellent, "Black Like Me" was my favorite of the performance.

- Joel

Fleet Foxes

Listen to/download a new track from Fleet Foxes below. They are back with their angelic harmonies and acoustic guitars. Take a listen to "Helplessness Blues"; I really like the change of pace at the 2:48 mark. The new album, which drops May 3, sounds like it may be better than the last.

- Joel

Fleet Foxes - Helplessness Blues by subpop

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Old School

Clint Eastwood
Some celebrities seemed so effortlessly cool in their day.

- Joel

Paul Newman

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pyramid of Greatness

I watch Parks and Recreation occasionally. The Swanson Pyramid of Greatness is the single best moment in the entire series. See above. You'll want to click on it and zoom in. A few of my favorites (not because I agree but because they are funny):

Capitalism: God's way of determining who is smart, and who is poor.
Cabins: A place to rest that is made of logs.
B.O.: Cultivating a manly musk puts your opponents on notice.
Haircuts: 3 acceptable styles: High and Tight, Crew Cut and Buzz Cut.

I'm not sure how funny this is outside the context of the show. Watch it here if you missed the episode or below if you want only the clip.

- Joel

Young Galaxy

Canadian outfit Young Galaxy drop a new album Shapeshifting next month. I like what I hear so far.

- Joel
Young Galaxy - "We Have Everything"

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cass McCombs

4Band. El Paso, Texas. © Allison V. Smith
Last year's time machine landed indie music in the midst of the 1960's. If Cass McCombs is any indication, this year's music may leap into the 1970's. His song "County Line", which will appear on the forthcoming album WIT'S END, sounds an awful lot like soft rock from 70's radio. I like it.

- Joel

Cass McCombs - "County Line"

January Reading

In the wake of a November and December devoted to studying for and taking the LSAT, January has afforded the rediscovery of my love for reading. Thanks to my parents and my Aunt Kay, I had a number of new books from which to choose when Christmas came to an end. The three I started and finished this month have surpassed my expectations. All three speak poignantly to the human condition and our shared experience. Each illustrated unique truths about the lives we lead and the world in which we live. Two left me in tears and the third made me nervous to be sleeping in my house without some sort of firearm. Rather than give a book report for each, I've given the lasting impressions each left me below. I would encourage you, if you are in need of reading material, to consider them all.

- Joel

The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson: It's powerful to observe both the heights of genius, creativity, and ingenuity and the depths of evil of which we are capable.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand: Perseverance in the midst of suffering really does produce a crown of life.

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen: Unforgiveness is a cancer that destroys while forgiveness is essential to a joyful life.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gil Meche

This offseason, Kansas City Royals pitcher Gil Meche, who signed for $55 million before the 2007 season, decided to retire. Forgoing the final year of his contract, Meche left $12 million on the table asking the Royals not to pay him. Asked about the logic behind his decision, Meche said, "Honestly, I didn’t feel like I deserved it." In an era where greed takes center stage both in collegiate and professional sports, I found Meche's old-fashioned econo-ethics to be refreshing. Read more about Meche and his decision in this New York Times article.

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

© Mitch Dobrowner
More Mitch Dobrowner. This gets me excited for my trip to Big Bend.

- Joel

© Mitch Dobrowner

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Photographer of the Day

© Mitch Dobrowner
Mitch Dobrowner. These photographs of storms are absolutely insane.

- Joel

© Mitch Dobrowner

Mitch Dobrowner

Say Hi

Seattle-based Say Hi, aka Eric Elbogen, has a bluesy sound that I'm enjoying. Something about him reminds me of The Black Keys. His latest album Um, Uh Oh dropped yesterday. Check out a song below.

- Joel

Light Asylum

Part of me thinks this song is absolutely ridiculous. However, I can't stop listening to it. Maybe it's the synth beat in the background. Chances are the lead singer is serious, but I find myself laughing (in a good way) as I listen.

- Joel

Light Asylum - "Dark Allies"

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Jeff Bridges

I've come to admire Jeff Bridges both as an actor and for the way he appears to approach celebrity with such indifference. Last night I watched this PBS documentary chronicling Bridges' career and examining the man more closely. In many ways it affirmed those assumptions I have made about Mr. Bridges. If nothing else, it made me excited for his next film, though it may be tough to best True Grit. You can watch the documentary below or go to the official PBS site here.

- Joel

Watch the full episode. See more American Masters.

Photographer of the Day

© Raphael Hefti
Raphael Hefti. Let's go climb some mountains.

- Joel

© Raphael Hefti

© Raphael Hefti

Alessandro Gottardo

A Farewell To Arms © Alessandro Gottardo
Alessandro Gottardo. A farewell to arms...very clever.

- Joel

Monday, January 24, 2011

Andrew Bannecker

© Andrew Bannecker
Things I like About Coca-Cola:
- the way it tastes at McDonald's with the wide straws (rumor has it Coke reserves its best batches for McDonald's)
- Mexican Cokes with real sugar
- the clever commercials they have before movies where an army full of magic people inside the Coke machine go through an elaborate process/celebration to open the Coke bottle and send it down the chute to be enjoyed by an unknowing customer
- the freedom they give illustrators like Andrew Bannecker (see above) to advance their already dominant brand

- Joel

Meg Hunt

© Meg Hunt
I saw this map today created for Utah Valley University (located in Orem, UT for those who are interested) by Meg Hunt. It led me to check out more of Meg's work, which is pretty good. Take a look for yourself.

- Joel

© Meg Hunt

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Daniel Martin Moore

It's fitting on a Sunday morning to post about a bluegrass take on old Christian spirituals. Daniel Martin Moore, signed to the indie megalabel SubPop, dropped his album In The Cool Of The Day this past week. It features a number of traditional hymns and a few Moore originals as well. I think the his smooth voice and laid back approach to bluegrass makes these songs enjoyable to anyone, no matter their disposition toward faith.

- Joel

Daniel Martin Moore - In the Cool of the Day by subpop

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Photographer of the Day

© Kim Winderman
Kim Winderman. When it comes time to decide on a law school, the opportunity to be outside in nature will weigh heavily if I'm lucky enough to choose between a few schools/locations.

- Joel

© Kim Winderman

© Kim Winderman

© Kim Winderman

Purity Ring

If my iTunes library had the hiccups, I imagine it would sound something like the beat in this song. Purity Ring features the playful vocals of Megan James. Once I got used to the beat I really enjoyed this song.

- Joel

Thursday, January 20, 2011

David Ramirez

David Ramirez's name keeps popping up on Twitter in relation to my friend's short film. I finally decided to check out his stuff and it's pretty good. He's got an alt-country bent that sounds like the city from which he hails, Austin, Texas.

- Joel

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lunar Eclipse

I wasn't dedicated enough to stay awake for the recent lunar eclipse but apparently I missed quite a display. Photographer unknown (to me at least).

- Joel

Andrew Belle

I've found myself listening to a lot of Andrew Belle lately, especially when filling out law school applications - all 14 of them. His sound reminds me a lot of my friend Ben Rector. Take a listen if you'd like.

- Joel

Sunday, January 16, 2011


A great man. A great leader. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his message of faith, hope, and love deserve a day to be honored and remembered.

The piece above was created by Tavis Coburn.

- Joel

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fistful of Mercy

Fredericksburg, Texas. December 2010. © Allison V. Smith
Here's a great instrumental track to start your morning if you're just waking up.

- Joel

Friday, January 14, 2011

Angus & Julia Stone

This cover by Angus & Julia Stone puts a much different spin on the Grease classic "You're The One That I Want".

- Joel

The Morning Benders

A few pretty little diddies performed by The Morning Benders for La Blogotheque. You can watch a performance of one of the tracks below the mp3 links.

- Joel

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Dø

I haven't heard any new music lately that has really jumped out. It's always fun to be first on the scene with new stuff, but I have been a step behind. I came across this band The Dø (pronounced "dough") tonight. They hail from France and bring an eclectic European flavor spanning a number of genres.

- Joel

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Maybe I'm moving into the wrong field. This video, created for NASA and featuring the words Carl Sagan, makes a visually compelling case for conquering space.

- Joel

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Law School

So the LSAT went well. Better than expected by far. And now suddenly schools that I hear about in movies or read about in history books are suddenly within the realm of possibility for me to attend. Still, I realize that most people don't like lawyers, or don't think they like lawyers. That's not who I want to be. But who do I want to be? Over the past few months, after rereading the book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, I've begun to keep up with a man mentioned in the book named Bob Goff. Bob is an attorney, but he's not a typical attorney. He's creative and lively and writes an incredible story with his life, which includes working for justice on behalf of wrongly accused children in Africa. Bob is actually the man who made up the parade that I featured a few posts ago. He is the kind of law man I want to be someday (assuming I get into law school). You can read more about what he's doing here.

- Joel

Monday, January 10, 2011


Married indie music duo Tennis drop their debut album on January 18th. I've posted about them before. Their album will extend the musical revival of the 1960's into 2011. Their guitars also sound a bit like The Walkmen. Listen to a few tracks below.

- Joel

Friday, January 7, 2011

Florence + The Machine

It took me awhile to come around on Florence + The Machine. I first saw her on SNL, found her singing to be off key, and wrote her off my list. A few weeks later I was in the Gap in Dallas with Cassie and her voice came ringing through the store's speakers. I found myself tapping along with my foot. I find some her stuff to be catchy, or maybe it's best heard while buying denim shirts.

- Joel

Florence + The Machine - "Dog Days Are Over"

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Photographer of the Day

© Aimee Wenske
Aimee Wenske. I'm more of a mountains guy myself, but there's something special about the beach. This reminds me of some of the old Kodachrome photos in the Library of Congress.

- Joel

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Join the Parade

Last Christmas, I received A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, a book by Donald Miller, as a gift for Christmas. Having just recently experienced intense heartbreak, I wasn't in the best place to read a book about writing the story of your life. This December, after a year of profound healing, I decided to read it again. What a wonderful reminder to write a meaningful story with our lives. One of my favorite sections of the book talks about a New Year's Day parade with one rule: no one watches, everyone participates. Donald Miller recently summed it up this way on his blog:

"More than a decade ago, when the kids were young, the family sat around bored on New Years Day. Dad decided boredom wasn’t fitting for a day that God made, so he asked the kids for suggestions, and they decided to have a family parade down their small street. And as they notified neighbors, the family decided NOBODY could watch their parade, that people could only participate. And now the parade is huge. It’s an annual, street tradition, complete with a Grand Marshal and Queen. And nobody is allowed to watch. Nobody can sit on the curb. Everybody marches in the parade."

I find that to be a brilliant goal for 2011: don't watch the parade. I don't want to let my life march by before me. I want to participate. Below is a video recap of this year's parade.

- Joel

If you liked the song in the video, you can download it here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Big Bend

The Chisos Basin in Big Bend © Jay B. Sauceda
A friend and I are currently planning a backpacking trip to Big Bend National Park. Growing up I never enjoyed camping but have recently become hooked on the outdoors. I found these photos of Big Bend on the Public School blog today and it got me even more excited. The photograph above shows where our hike will begin.

- Joel

© Jay B. Sauceda

The Man Who Never Cried

I posted this a few months ago. The Man Who Never Cried is a short film written and directed by an old friend of mine from Austin, Bradley Jackson. The film is starting to get a bit of a following and might actually win the competition in which it's entered. If you'd like to watch it, and maybe even vote for it, go here. It's at least worth the 20 minutes or so it takes to watch.

- Joel

Monday, January 3, 2011

True Grit

My vote for Best Picture goes to True Grit. If you have yet to see it, do yourself a favor and get to the theater. The film is clever, compassionate, full of action and breathtaking cinematography. It takes a different approach than the original film, which brought John Wayne his one and only Oscar. Jeff Bridges' interpretation of Rooster Cogburn is Oscar-worthy as well, and Hailee Steinfeld is magnificent as Mattie Ross.

- Joel

Sunday, January 2, 2011


My favorite song of 2010.

- Joel

Photographer of the Day

© Kevin Miyazaki
Love this photo. Kevin Miyazaki always does it right.

- Joel

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite Albums of 2010

I like to sum up my favorites from the year's music. Here are my top nine for 2010. There were a lot of others that I enjoyed, but none that I felt strong enough to put in a Top 10 list.

- Joel

1. Beach House - Teen Dream
2. Sleigh Bells - Treats
3. The Walkmen - Lisbon
4. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
5. The National - High Violet
6. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
7. Vampire Weekend - Contra
8. Best Coast - Crazy For You
9. Katy Perry - Teenage Dream
**yep, I know. I don't claim to be an advocate of Katy Perry, but I have to admit that no other top 40 record had me tapping my feet like this one.

Honorable Mention
The Black Keys - Brothers
Girl Talk - All Day
Glasser - Ring
Janelle Monae - The ArchAndroid
**"Tightrope" was my favorite song of the year.
Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
Laura Veirs - July Flame
The Morning Benders - Big Echo
The Radio Dept. - Clinging To A Scheme
Spoon - Transference
Taylor Swift - Speak Now