and done

These last two playlists aren’t going to get the attention they deserve.  While they both hold special places in my heart, I’m ready to be done.  On the Chill Mix, several of the songs could have easily been on the “one” disc.  So this is a B-sides of sorts.  But to call them B’s doesn’t really do them justice.  I think you understand what I’m getting at.

Chill Mix

1)     Motel Motel / Cowboy
2)     Pepper Rabbit / Older Brother
3)     The National / Afraid of Everyone
4)     The Middle East / Western
5)     The Romany Rye / All the Boys
6)     Freelance Whales / Location
7)     R.E.M. / It Happened Today
8)     Siskiyou / Never Ever Ever Ever Again
9)     Delta Spirit / Bushwick Blues (EP Version)
10) Frightened Rabbit / Swim Until You Can’t See Land
11) The War On Drugs / Comin’ Through
12) Sufjan Stevens / Enchanting Ghost
13) Woodpigeon / Spirehouse
14) Girls / Heartbreaker
15) Junip / Rope and Summit
16) Kyte / Like She Said
17) Mumford & Sons / Lover of the Light (live)
18) First Aid Kit / I Met the King

Click it to ZIP it.

Remixes, Covers, Mashups, and Other Questionable Material
No explanation necessary.  Listen at your own risk.

Party Mix

This is the second installment of “2010’s Best Music.”

Want a playlist that is going to take that get-together from hype to chill in the space of an hour?  This is it.

1)      Blue Scholars / Big Hank Tank – Seattle based independent hip hop.  My friend Gar keeps me informed on the goings on with these guys.
2)      Far East Movement / Like a G6 – I didn’t need Gar to keep me in the loop on this one.  Hard to believe the meteoric rise to popularity that this song enjoyed.
3)      Sleigh Bells / Crown on the Ground – Another musical phenomenon.  So right for programming at camp.  It never got old.
4)      Matt & Kim / Block After Block – No party mix would be complete this year without a little Matt & Kim.
5)      M.I.A. / 20 Dollar – She’s back with her trademark sound.  Keep it coming.
6)      Tokyo Police Club / Breakneck Speed – Starting to venture away from hip-hop/dance party material, but well worth it.
7)      Robyn / Time Machine – It was a short lived departure.
8)      Can’t Stop Won’t Stop / Cool Summer – This was used this fall at camps as well, and it was a crowd pleaser.
9)      Kanye West / Lost In the World (feat. Bon Iver) – I can honestly say that I couldn’t have conceived a collaboration between these artists.  And that’s why they are the artists, and I’m not.
10)  Blue Scholars / Lumiere – More goods from the socially conscious rappers from the PacNW.
11)  Broken Bells / The Ghost Inside – Ok, we’re about done with the hip hop and such.  This song is for when the mood takes a turn towards the chill.
12)  Cold War Kids / Royal Blue – “Why would I?”
13)  Iron & Wine / Biting Your Tail – A far cry from the likes of Our Endless Numbered Days, but still good.
14)  The Roots / Right On (feat. Joanna Newsom & STS) – We really should “shine a light on.”
15)  Sleigh Bells / Ring Ring – Can’t get enough of the goodness that is Sleigh Bells.
16)  Pomplamoose / Another Day – Thank you Bobby and Bryan for introducing me to this great song (and better video).
17)  Nelly Furtado and Chris Martin / All Good Things – “must come to an end”

Download it all RIGHT HERE.

My 2010 Best Music (sort of)

You people have no idea the labor of love that this music project is.  The culling down of the very best of the best for you.

And yet, it wasn’t to be.  The task proved to be more than my formidable skill in this area was able to handle.  I simply wasn’t able to get it to one cd-length playlist.  I have failed you, faithful listener, and for that I’m sorry.  That said, what you see before you is what I would term my “safe bets.”

This is my sweet spot.

Just like me, not a lot of variety.  Just good solid music to be listened to and experienced.  I promise to provide you with three (that’s right… THREE) other playlists that are sure to be the razzle dazzle that you are looking for.

So, here’s the line-up (with requisite comments):

1)       jj / And Now – I think this selection speaks for itself.  As fine an opener/introduction as one could hope to find.
2)       Josh Ritter / Change of Time – Here’s a singer/songwriter doing what he does best…  writing a song and singing it.
3)       Mumford & Sons and Laura Marling / to darkness (dharohar project) – Ok, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way.  There seems to be some confusion about when Sigh No More was released.  It was 2009.  That being the case, it still is the best album of 2010, hands down.  No question about it.  Any song off the album could have found it’s way on the list.  And yet, because of the confusion, none were included.  So this song comes from some time they spent in India… obviously.
4)       The Morning Benders / Pleasure Sighs Big Echo was one of my favorites from the year.  I think this track matches my personality pretty well…  reserved.
5)       Peter Wolf Crier / Hard As Nails – I had the privilege of seeing this duo from Minneapolis, MN play in Little Rock.  Hard to believe just two people were making so much music.  The track (while good) doesn’t do justice to how incredible they were live.
6)       Local Natives / Sun Hands – Nothing but good solid interesting music here.
7)       The National / Runaway – I had a very difficult time picking which track to put on the list.  This was as good as any.  If Mumford hadn’t knocked it out of the park, High Violet would have been a contender.
8)       The Romany Rye / Untitled (Love Song) – Not so sure I’ve got the title right here.  I saw these guys play a whopping THREE times this year.  Unheard of.  They make some great music, and most of the band is comprised of some really great guys from none other than Little Rock.
9)       Lissie / Record Collector – I’m not sure I’ve ever allowed a member from my family to select a song for the end of year list, but my sweet daughter has taken a liking to Lissie (as have I), and I let her pick a song off of Catching a Tiger.  This is what she chose.  She is exhibiting discriminating taste in music, and I look forward to the day when she’ll be making quality mixes of her own.
10)   The Temper Trap / Sweet Disposition – So stinking good.  Stop whatever other useless waste of time you are engaged in right now and listen to this song.
11)   Freelance Whales / Generator ^ Second Floor – I can’t begin to tell you how annoying it is for them to have a funny symbol in the name of their song.  If the song weren’t so good, I probably would have simply left it off the list.
12)   Delta Spirit / Bushwick Blues – More fantastic music to feast your ears on.
13)   Kanye West / Homecoming (ft. Chris Martin) – Ok, this is embarrassing.  This song is old.  I mean really old.  2007.  And yet, for some strange reason I didn’t hear it until this year.  So it is legal.  I think.
14)   The Kissaway Trail / Beat Your Heartbeat – This may be my very favorite song of the year.  And I’m not even really sure why.  Probably because it is awesome.
15)   Ray LaMontagne & The Pariah Dogs / For The Summer – Similar to Freelance Whales, Ray is annoying me by making me do more work to type his track name.
16)   Sufjan Stevens / Heirloom – This man is a complete enigma.  Period.
17)   Mt. Desolation / State of Our Affairs – Good enough to be one of the three songs that I took the liberty of putting on the Man CD collaboration.
18)   The Civil Wars / Poison & Wine – Where have these guys been all my life?
19)   Ugly Casanova / Lay Me Down – This one is off the 180º South soundtrack.  Lots of the movie was really dumb, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.  This soundtrack is part of the reason.  I think Ugly Casanova is a side project of some of Modest Mouse’s members.

Alright, like I said, all business here.  Enjoy!  More to come.

Click HERE to get the zip file.

Man CD – 2010

Well, I’ve got some bad news and some good news.

Bad news first:  My Best of 2010 Playlist isn’t done.  I could have thrown something together, but it wouldn’t have been right.  The year in music deserves better than that.  I’m very sorry.  It is close to completion and should be out in a matter of days.

Good news:  This year’s Man CD is complete.  Well done, fellas. As always, we are better together than on our own.

I’ll simply provide the track listings and who contributed them.  I will neither comment on the worthiness of the songs nor pass judgment.

The zip file link is below.

  1. Superchunk – Learned to Surf (Jamey Henderson)
  2. Mike Tompkins – Dynamite (Charlie Rogers)
  3. Glossary – Lonely Is A Town (Jeremy Jeffery)
  4. Yolanda Be Cool & Dcup – We No Speak Americano (Adam Holsted)
  5. Drive by Truckers – Birthday Boy (Andrew Vess)
  6. Royksopp – Remind Me (Jeff Killingsworth)
  7. Jamey Johnson – Macon (Chris Shelton)
  8. LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change (Dero Sanford)
  9. Arcade Fire – Ready to Start (Rob Callaham)
  10. New Order – Ceremony (Bryan Jones)
  11. Mumford & Sons – Winter Winds (Bobby Harrison)
  12. The Kissaway Trail – Beat Your Heartbeat (Taido Chino)
  13. Jeremy Messersmith – A Girl, a Boy, and a Graveyard (Peter Loibner)
  14. Sarah Jarosz – Come on Up to the House (Craig Loibner)
  15. Josh White – The Wall (Nathan James)
  16. Mt. Desolation – Sate of Our Affairs (Taido Chino)
  17. The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition (Taido Chino)
  18. Frank Sinatra – That’s Life (Gerald New)

The Goods…  ZIP FILE.

Bedtime Books

The Chino children have an obsession with The Lord of the Rings that some might call unusual.  We’ve seen all the movies (extended editions) a few times.  We have LOTR DVD Trivia.  They re-enact their favorite scenes on a daily basis.  We have the  soundtracks loaded on most of the iPods around.  All of them (including the four-year old) have an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Tolkien.   But they can’t be faulted.  They are my children.

So over the last several months, we’ve been plodding through the printed matter.  And it has been glorious.  We get to discover all the little details that the movies had to leave out.  And some of our favorite scenes from the movies are lifted from the books word for word.  The beauty of this nightly ritual is that when it is time to wind down at the end of night, there is absolute silence the moment the reading begins.  They We are all in.

Best “In Touch with My Inner Self” Book

I’m not sure how many of this sort I read this year, but two stand out.

Early in the year, I read Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

I said pretty much all I had to say about it then, but I do so appreciate how Miller writes.  I should probably go back and read it again.

Mr. Miller isn’t one to be outdone, but I also finally got around to reading John Eldredge’s classic, Wild at Heart.

While this book is fairly culture bound (upper-middle class American white – and some Asian – males), it does a darn good job of delivering the goods to fellas who fit that demographic.  WordPress tells me that my thoughts on the book are HERE.

No way to pick a “top” read here, so it is officially a tie.

Best Theology Smackdown

Back with more of 2010’s best reading.  If you thought the last recommendation was sort of Bible-nerdy, then you may just want to wait until my next post…  Best Emotional PoMo Emergent Touchy Feely True to Self Read.  In the world of theology (which, admittedly, is a pretty small world), there has been a storm brewing over the topic of Justification.  This isn’t really the time or place to wade into the details, but if you want a very quick primer on what the debate is all about, you can try this.

Anyway, two high profile Christian leader/theologians have entered the fray.  In one corner, we have the energetic Christian hedonist from Minneapolis, Minnesota… Johnnnn Pipperr.

Squaring off with him is the agreeable and prolific bishop from across the pond…  the Right Reverend Tommm Wriiiight.

And here’s how the match went down.  Piper was taking Wright to task for going soft on justification.  His feeling was that Wright was wrong (I could keep ’em coming all day long) to depart from the understanding of justification as defined by the Reformers and much of Protestant Christianity since then.  Piper’s book, The Future of Justification, was well thought through, clearly articulated, and classically Piper.  Wright’s (sort-of) response was the creatively titled, Justification, in which he re-articulated his view that many have and probably still do find more than a little confusing.

I’ve read both and here’s how I understand what’s being said.  Wright isn’t denying the historically held doctrine of “justification by faith.”  He’s saying that Paul had a larger understanding of what that means than simply “we are forgiven sinners” (as glorious as that truth is).  He wants to push against the widely held notion, particularly within the church in the West, that Christianity is basically about how an individual gets right with God.

Ok, well it goes on and on.  Watching this debate unfold is a bit like watching ships firing past each other.  Neither right on target and neither really quite sure where the other is coming from.

Which is why I think possibly the best book I’ve read recently on the subject of justification comes from a third player…  the witty academic from down under…  Michaellll Biirrd.

His book, The Saving Righteousness of God, looks to chart a third way that takes the best of both and marry them together in the idea of “incorporated righteousness.”

I don’t pretend to think that anyone reading this blog is going to be even a little bit tempted to read any of the three books mentioned here, but they are the things with which current and future Christian leaders are wrestling.  Most theological debates come and go, but this one centers on a aspect of Christian belief that lies at the core of the way “faith” works.

I think that’s important.

reading in 2010

I know most of you are losing sleep wondering what is going to be on the infamous end-o-year mix tape.  So to pass the time, I’m going to share something approximating a “Top 5 Reads in 2010.”  However, as I’m prone to do, I’m going to spread this out over a few days.  Enjoy!

Best of the Best:

I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my favorite book of the year comes from my boy N.T.  In After You Believe, he talks biblically and sensibly (yes, you can do both) about what Christian character looks like and how it is formed in a person.  In his own words, this book is an attempt to answer the question, “What are we here for in the first place?”

The fundamental answer we shall explore in this book is that what we’re “here for” is to become genuine human beings, reflecting the God in whose image we’re made, and doing so in worship on the one hand and in mission, in its full and large sense, on the other.

As I’ve said before, Wright is one of the most influential biblical scholars around today.  Much of what filters down in various other writers and movements bears the stamp of his thinking, teaching, and writing.  You would be well served to spend some of your precious reading money and time becoming familiar with what he is saying.  I’ve read several books this year attempting to answer the “what are we here for” question, and they end up looking provincial in comparison.

One of the things that is particularly refreshing about Wright is that he doesn’t seem to get bogged down in culture wars.  I get the sense that this frustrates his would be critics who would just like to figure out if he is with or against them.  Conservatives tend to think he is too liberal, and liberals harbor suspicions that he is a closet-conservative.  Wright would rightly (no one ever tires of the play on words begging to be had with his name) affirm that both of these labels have outlived their usefulness and would be reluctant to use either to describe himself.

While After You Believe is as fine a place as any to start, I often point people towards The Challenge of Jesus as an intro to Wright.  It is profound, relatively short, and highly readable.  Starting with this book has the added benefit of beginning where I think all theological reflection should start…  Jesus as revealed in the Scriptures.

Up next…  theology meets the UFC.

best of?

Yes, I still have a blog.  And I only post when I feel like it.  And I haven’t felt like it in a while.

As the end of the year approaches, the one thing that is on everyone’s mind is…

“What will he have on his Best of 2010 Playlist?”

Never fear.  Things are pretty much falling into place, and it will be coming soon enough.

Next Monday to be exact.

Anyway, this isn’t how I was hoping to get the old blogging thing underway again, but it will have to do.  If you have any input on the definitive word on music deemed worthy of the list, speak now or forever hold your peace.