Best Albums of 2009 (A Completely Un-Biased Critic’s Opinion)

OK, so I should preface this list by saying, this will not be a “completely un-biased critic’s opinion” list.  In fact, it’s completely biased and in now way a critical, musically educated list.  It’s just music that was released in 2009 that I happened to like.  So here are my favorite albums in order of preference:

10. Justin Townes Earle – Midnight at the Movies

Steve Earle’s son escapes the umbrella of his father’s shadow with this gem.  With content that covers a lot of ground from parents to girl problems, it makes for a fun honkey tonk ride.  In “Halfway to Jackson,” he forgets about a girl he just left for cheating on him mid-train ride…ha!

Notable Tracks: ‘Halfway to Jackson’ ‘Midnight at the Movies’ ‘Someday I’ll Be Forgiven For That’

9. Lyle Lovett – Natural Forces

I’ve liked Lyle Lovett for a while and he delivers with his latest album.  His return back to country from a jazz-infused hiatus has been welcomed with excitement…and he’s still got it.  All I can say is thank God for Texas country music…without it, we wouldn’t have guys like Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark or Steve Earle.  Yeah, that’s a pretty serious list.

Notable Tracks: ‘Natural Forces’ ‘Empty Blue Shoes’ ‘Sun And Moon And Stars’

8.  The Low Anthem – Oh My God Charlie Darwin

My new go-to mellow folk rock band.  See you later Iron and Wine.  Beautiful melodies and lyrics create dream-like sounds your ears should be listening to if they haven’t already.

Notable Tracks: ‘Charlie Darwin’ ‘Ticket Taker’ ‘To The Ghosts Who Write History Books’

7.  Rosanne Cash – The List

When Rosanne Cash was a teenager her father wasn’t very fond of the direction her music taste had taken.  So he created a list of 100 essential songs everyone should know and love including her.  Rosanne covers 12 of them here and adds her touch to these timeless classics.

Notable Tracks: ‘Sea Of Heartbreak’ ‘Miss The Mississippi and You’ ‘Silver Wings’

6. Wilco – Wilco

Another groovy album from the mega band reminiscent of “Sky Blue Sky.” In expected Wilco style, Tweedy’s lyrics for the most part are completely indecipherable…well…with the exception of this one I guess.. “Is someone twisting a knife in your back, are you being attacked?  Wilco will love you baby.”  Geee…thanks guys!

Notable Tracks: ‘Wilco(the song) ‘One Wing’ ‘Bull Black Nova’

5. Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend Of A Friend

Dave Rawlings delivers on this solid debut with the help of Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show as a backup band. Rawlings, although he has never released a record under his own name, has produced/written some pretty influential records including Gillian Welch’s Time-The Revelator and Ryan Adams’ Heartbreaker.  GO SEE THIS BAND IF YOU HAVEN’T.  They just made it to the top 5 live shows I’ve ever seen.

Notable Tracks – ‘Ruby’ ‘Method Acting’ ‘How’s About You’

4. Brandi Carlile – Give Up The Ghost

I don’t know how I’d never heard of this girl before this year, but man oh man…this album rocked my socks off.  It just shows simple songwriting doesn’t have to be so abstract or hard to understand to be damn good.  Simple concepts can pack a punch and Carlile’s latest delivers.

Notable Tracks: ‘Dying Day’ ‘Dreams’ ‘Caroline’

3.  Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid

Auerbach mixes gospel, blues, rock and roll and any other Americana element you can think of in his latest solo project.  He maintains a bit of that traditional Black Keys sound and experiments with boundaries of new territory.  All this creates an exceptional listen that’s hard to stop when it’s time to get out of your car…not to mention the vinyl probably sounds even better.

Notable Tracks: ‘Trouble Weighs A Ton’ ‘Whispered Words(Pretty Lies)’ ‘When The Night Comes’

2. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

Similar to folks like Alejandro Escovedo and Wilco, Neko Case achieved early success making alt. country records…and like Wilco and Escovedo, she has morphed her sound into something all her own. She admitted in an interview she swore to herself she would never make an album about love. For some reason she changed her mind and now we have Middle Cyclone…and boy are we lucky she did.

Notable Tracks: ‘This Tornado Loves You’ ‘People Gotta Lot Of Nerve’ ‘Magpie To The Morning’

1. The Avett Brothers – I And Love And You

This wasn’t a hard decision.  The most anticipated album of 2009 didn’t let me down.  With the help of Rick Rubin, the Brothers took a step forward with their latest.  I don’t care what the cynics are saying…about it being too poppy or selling out their old sound.  Music must change and evolve.  And I And Love And You is the perfect example of that.  This record is so honest and relevant.  The best art always is.  Keep it up guys.

Notable Tracks: Ever song on this freakin’ thing

‘Tonight I’ll burn the lyrics, cause every chorus was your name…I am a breathing time machine, I’ll take you all for a ride.”

Honorable Mentions:

Buddy and Julie Miller – Written In Chalk

Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest

U2 – No Line On The Horizon

Langhorne Slim – Be Set Free

Them Crooked Vultures – Them Crooked Vultures

Animal Collective – Merriweather Post Pavilion

The Dead Weather – Horehound

Bat For Lashes – Two Suns

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We beat Ole Miss!

Super pumped about the big win yesterday…#4 in the nation??!!!  What??!!  Haven’t done that since like 1980!  Let’s keep it going Gamecocks!  Tough road schedule ahead…according to ESPN we have the toughest schedule in the nation this year…but you know what they say…if you want to be the best, you gotta beat the best!  Let’s go COCKS!!

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New Small Group book

“…Here’s what struck me: all this comes at precisely the time when our culture is growing weary of slick production and whatever’s new and is growing hungry for authentic presence and historical rootedness.  Younger generations don’t want trendy engagement from the church; in fact, they’re suspicious of it.  Instead they want truthfulness engagement with historical and theological solidity that enables meaningful interaction with transcendent reality.  They want desperately to invest their lives in something worth dying for, not some here-today-gone-tomorrow fad.”  -Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable

So…we are starting our church-wide small group off this week where all respective small groups will be going through the same book study…something we haven’t done since I’ve been going to Eternal Church…I’m pretty excited about it…there’s something about doing something together at a large level that interests me…I guess it’s the sense of community I feel while we are all doing the same thing…anywho…

We are going through a book called “Unfashionable” by Tullian Tchividjian.  The main theme is about as Christians, we should live a life that’s countercultural, not trying to adapt to the world but in fact do the opposite.  “Live against the world, for the world” is how Tchividjian puts it.  It looks promising and hopefully as a church we will benefit from the study.  

But Skip (our pastor) got me thinking about how we should approach “Christian” books…specifically to Unfashionable… he said, if there’s anything we disagree on, we should re-look Scriptures in order to sharpen our beliefs.  He said books should never be treated as a substitute from The Bible in any way.  

Something else that got me thinking about this was a video I recently watched of Mark Driscoll criticizing the book, “The Shack”. Now I haven’t read the book so I can’t speak one way or another on whether I find it Scripturally sound or even if that’s what the book’s intention was in the first place.  However, all this has reminded me that sometimes as members of a Christian culture, we read/see/experience/preach about things that seem benevolent and beneficial without ever seriously considering the subject matter and whether it’s theologically and biblically sound.  If “Christian” messages (Worship, Messages, Books, Christian Music) we digest aren’t articulating Scripture, we need to question it and find out what the Scripture says about it.

Truth always wins out…and at the end of the day, isn’t that what we are all searching for in life anyway, truth?

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RIP The Everybodyfields…Hello Jill Andrews

So..one of my favorite bands broke up not too long ago.  They were called The Everybodyfields.  Sam Quinn and Jill Andrews were both part of that band and are now working on solo projects.  

Recently I stumbled across this video on Jill Andrews’ website of her covering Lucinda Williams‘ “Sharp Cutting Wings.”  I love her and Lucinda Williams’ music so much, if I were trapped on a desert island and was forced to listen to them both forever, I’d be just fine with that.  

After a two minute introduction of what she’s doing now, the song begins…so don’t go anywhere.

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Cool New Movie Alert

So…this is an interesting new venture for Patton Oswalt considering he’s historically associated with comedy…but his new movie “Big Fan” appears more dramatic than anything I’ve ever seen him do…and looks really awesome…Here’s the trailer…

It’s written and directed by Robert D. Siegel, which if you have your movie trivia cap on, is the same guy who wrote “The Wrestler” ( and who’s slowly becoming my favorite writer/director if he keeps this up).  All this ‘Wrestler’ talk has made me think of my favorite music video since Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”.   Bruce Springsteen wrote the song “The Wrestler” for the movie.  Here’s the video, and if you haven’t seen it, enjoy.

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The Greatest Generation…

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So…my grandmother (we all call her Mimi) passed away Sunday night; and having had a close relationship with her, I’ve been feeling very sad and also nostalgic.  Growing up just through the woods (I literally walked through the woods down the “path” to get to her house) made for the majority of my memories from childhood.  Summers (and sick days) were filled with mornings at Mimi’s eating cereal and bananas and watching Price is Right at 11 a.m.  By the way, nothing is more medicinal than Mimi, Price is Right and chicken noodle soup when you’re sick.  She gave me unlimited access to the sugar for the breakfast bran flakes, for which I am forever grateful.  Her excuse for over-serving us kids with food was “they’re growing  boys” (even though I was a chubby kid who could use a stint with the Atkins Diet).  

But, as I’ve gotten older, my perception of Mimi has changed from a woman who cooked me some of my most memorable meals and who tolerated the grandkids’ perpetual mischievousness to something more substantive.  Although those are great things and most of what my memory of her from childhood is, it just touched the surface of what kind of person she was.

She believed in values, character, family and tolerance over everything else in life. She was a soft-spoken woman (outside of the family of course!) who didn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve.  She was a strong Christian woman who didn’t talk about her faith much, but she didn’t have to.  She lived it.  That’s more than most of us can say about ourselves.  

Her generation amazes me in their toughness, both emotionally and physically.  I’m embarrassed to admit I come from the MTV generation.  Instead of out plowing the fields, we’re inside watching The Hills.  Hopefully we can turn it around though.  If we have even a fraction of the drive and character this WWII generation did, including Mimi, I think we’d be doing alright.  I hope I make Mimi proud.  I love you always.

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Star Trek vs. Star Wars

So, I saw Start Trek the other day with a friend (and it’s awesome by the way)…she will remain nameless…who on the way to the movie said in all seriousness, “I’m glad I’ll finally be able to now tell my friends I’ve seen a Star Wars movie.”  Haha…

This made me think of a video I watched a while back of a girl retelling the Star Wars story based on bits of information she’s gathered about the movies without ever having seen any of them.  Hilariousness ensues.  Here’s the link to the video.  Enjoy.

http://www.vimeo.com/2809991

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