Sunday, February 28, 2010

Israel Houghton

I didn't have an actual, planned & thought-through post, but I wanted to share this video I just ran across. Just now. Yes, five minute ago.

It's too fun to not share. I'm now going to click through some more clickety-links and vids so to better inform myself of Israel Houghton and his music. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Music and the problem of aging

In Twitter conversation (hi, AnnieChristina!), I was introduced to a band with the unfortunate moniker of The New Pornographers. I promptly went to Bethany's fave, MySpace Music, heard a couple of song -- the first of which still sort of tingles in my toes -- then loped over to my old faithful, YouTube.

This is my initial review: Holy mackerel.

Now tell me that the harmonies didn't make your life a little happier. I know they made mine.

In a similar conversation via good ol' Facebook, this artist, Dustin Kensrue, was recommended to me (his wiki profile is pretty interesting, though he's no Dave Matthews. Seriously, DM reads like a novel).

Do you mind if I sidetrack for a moment?

The friend on Facebook who recommended Dustin Kensrue is a long time friend, as in, his father officiated my and Bryan's wedding more than ten years ago, and we attended their church, and this kid was one of my favorite people when I was twenty and he was eleven.

He's engaged.

... Engaged. My little eleven year old friend is twenty-two and engaged.

Every time I see a picture of him all grown up, I feel a bit jolted. What do you mean I'm not twenty anymore? What do you mean he's not eleven? For real? When did that happen?

He seems to have grown into a very lovely man. Knowing his parents, I'm not surprised, but it's sad that I missed it somehow.

Dude, when did I get so old?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Secret & Whisper (or: may my mother-in-law forgive me)

In honor of some extremely exciting news I recieved today:

Secret and Whisper is a fairly new band to our repetoire -- maybe six months -- added upon a recommendation by my brother Justin (my music dealer). The band itself is on the Tooth & Nail label which has long been considered a Christian label, but I think quite a few bands have been coming along the label that wouldn't consider themselves Christian. I'm uncertain where Secret and Whisper stands, to be honest. What I do know (and what makes them reasonable Sunday listening) is that their lyrics and content are clean, I don't mind my kids listening to them, and -- yes -- they're on a label that has given me music in years past.

Some of our family's favorites include:

Spider Besider
Looming Moon
and Attacker, which Bryan says has "sick, insane drumming." He's not wrong.

My mother and my mother-in-law may never forgive me for these, but if you're not my mother or mother-in-law, I urge you to give Secret and Whisper a fair trial. And, Mom, it's Jay's fault.

Oh, and that awesome news? New Secret and Whisper album releases 4/6. Woo!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Perhaps I should accept that "Insomniac" is my natural state of being

I should write something about how I watched the Olympics tonight for three straight hours, how I squealed and hollered so much over the snowboarders' 1080s and corks that I should probably be punished for being a bad mother and not considering my children, sleeping just beyond the wall at my back.

However, I am exhausted. I'm slowly easing up on my caffeine intake under the banner of hope that my sleeping habits will regain normalcy.

So I leave you with a B-side that deserves to be shared.

... And maybe a quick whoop over the AIR this kid gets... and those wicked 1080s...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Kicking it Old School

... which makes Bethany and Justin think of DC Talk, I bet. Am I right?

No, I was thinking more Sixpence.

Sixpence None the Richer was one of my favorite bands when I was in college. Matt Slocum -- guitarist, cellist, lyricist extraordinaire -- was my (not really) idol; I adored him. When I transferred upstate to finish my degree, I had no posters, so I plastered my side of the dorm room with Sixpence lyrics. When "Kiss Me" played over the college radio, I nearly peed my pants. Little did I know how I would come to despise hearing those lilting chords and Leigh Nash's sweet voice singing these sickly sweet lyrics. Little did I know that one of the more innocent, romantic songs from my listening collection would become unlistenable after having to hear it a GRAZILLION times.

Until I found the punk-reminiscent cover version, that is...

Sixpence has suffered a whole bunch of bad luck with labels, which if you're interested, you can read about here. They broke up in 2004, and that was that. Right? Wrong. In 2008, Sixpence reconvened to release an EP that is now unavailable anywhere, and, subsequently, a Christmas album. As much as I love Sixpence and as loyal as I am, I do not own this new album. I have a thing about Christmas music in case you've forgotten.

However, the band is working on a new album right now. *squee* Every few days, they post pictures via Facebook of themselves in the studio and hanging out. Very cool.

And so, in honor of Sixpence's impending album, go, listen:

A lovely cover version of a Sixpence song

(Just because I never actually matured past putting pictures of the band everywhere...)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Wuv according to Facebook

The latest Valentine's trend via Facebook is to post a picture of yourself and "your spouse or significant other" and note how long you've been together. My college friends tossed up pictures of themselves and their husbands and everyone is adorable and perfect. If I didn't actually like these people, I would hate them. But I do, so I don't.

Anyway, I thought, what the heck, I'll see what kind of pictures Bryan and I have together. You know, what we have from, say, the last year? What we have are a handful of photos of the four of us (courtesy of my mother-in-law, usually... Hi, Mom! Everyone say hi) and two pictures from our ten-year-anniversary weekend-away in Maine last year.

This one, in which I want to be killing him but am instead keeping us from driving off Cadillac Mountain:

Misaligned us

And this one: Tiny us

... in which Bryan set the timer on a rock further down and took the picture. We're tiny. If you zoom in (I have), my cleavage is impressive. You'd also note the book in my lap, which I read for much of our time in Acadia National Park while Bryan took a grazillion pictures of trees and rocks and grass. The book was not good, but it was still more interesting than standing around watching him while he was doing this.

For the record, I bore easily.

So, I dug a little deeper into our files. We have pictures of us with the kids, sure, a few from over the years, but there aren't many, and to be perfectly blunt, there are none of the two of us alone.

This is partly (think 80%) my fault; I hate having my picture taken. Most picture taken of me end up like this:

No way, man.
(and if they don't, the sentiment is the same)

I don't post on Facebook often, but this, I felt, was necessary. "There are no pictures of me and Bryan alone," I wailed (secretly relieved). Bryan, of course snarked that we had the above pictures from Maine, and then suggested I post this one:

Pint size us
It's the picture we used on our wedding invitations. We were cute.

One of Bryan's co-workers (who, rumor has it, is going to be inviting me, the little wife, out for a girls' night) commented, "Take one tonight and post it!"

Oh, Lord...

I'm a grown-up. I sucked up my issues and took out the camera. I took a couple of pictures of the boys and tried to catch one of Bryan rocking the (Rock Band) drums, but was, alas, unsuccessful. However, my three year old, who possesses more talent as a photographer than I do, caught one of me. One that I did not automatically delete. One that I will now post here. Because I'm growing as a person.

If beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

As for Facebook, I posted this:

1999 - Kissing

It's not exactly current, but at least it's representative of us.
Plus I like Bryan's hair.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Art and Christian Music - Hammock

Did you catch the post in which I stated that I've been spending too much time on etsy? No? That's all right.

I have several pages of favorites, mostly prints, that I've tried to sit Bryan down and explain my vision for. Mostly, for my trouble, I've gotten, "Uh huh. What's in the cart?" Impatient MAN.

As I was flipping through random searches, I came across this lovely triptych, called "Night Bokeh."

Which is precisely what it is.

However, I caught sight of that and stopped. I could feel everything in me still, falling into place.
Why? Because it reminds me of this:

*whispers* This is Hammock.

Hammock is the project of two of Common Children's former members.

I only discovered Hammock last summer. They've been making music since 2004, and my Common Children broke up in 2002, but I didn't find them until 2009. Is anyone else upset by this math?

Why didn't anyone tell me?

I mention Common Children a lot. I'm aware of it. This is partly because they only made three albums, one of which is severely sentimental to my adolescence and subsequent courtship to the chaheaded man I married, and this is partly because they only made three albums and then broke up -- eight years ago -- so I've developed kind of a rosy hindsight. It happens.

This is a song from their third album; the relationship to the music Marc Byrd and Andrew Thompson are making now as Hammock is pretty distinct. It's a lovely song, and I felt strongly that it should have been used for New Moon in the scene when Bella races across Voltura, splashing through the fountain as she searches the crowd for Edward...! But, of course, it wasn't. The music people really should have listened to me.

(Don't worry, JoAnn. None of this is screamy. You might like it.)

Friday, February 5, 2010

I am the queen of not-getting-to-it

I am a procrastinator. This is not a secret. As a matter of fact, I've simply lived my life with the full knowledge of this quality of mine and worked with it/ around it.

However, as a homeschooling-stay-at-home-mom-with-a-toddler-a-blog-art-projects-and-a-neverending-book, I kind of hate myself right now. Seriously. I haven't graded Elijah's math in weeks. Rather than mop, I made cupcakes. Rather than watch my Netflix, I shopped etsy for a week straight. Rather than work out an awesome-holy-crap-I'm-the-greatest-Mom-ever art unit on Van Gogh, complete with mimicry painting... I took a bath and read an entire YA novel in one sitting, er, bath.

Do you recognize my pattern? Put off one project for another? The upside is that my apartment is cleaner now than it has been in years. The downside is that there are a dozen dropped threads (metaphorically) all over said apartment.

The worst part, the reason I hate myself at this point in my life for a quality I've always possessed? I haven't had a quiet time all week. It's the easiest "task" to push off. It requires quiet and the idea of not being interrupted. Sounds simple, but you obvious haven't met my non-sleeping children (that's right, I included Elijah in that because lately he's decided to have a whole lot of sleeping issues), who feel it within their right to wander into my room at any point after bedtime, burst into tears and make me shriek and jump out of my skin (I startle easily).

I don't know what I'm waiting for. Everything else to become still maybe. All I know is that I look over at my journal and Bible and suddenly can smell the mildew in my shower.


p.s. Speaking of  both art and procrastinating, what's this painting missing? Technically, it could be done, but I look at it and know that it's not. I just can't figure out what's missing. Thoughts, comments, suggestions? Someone? Anyone?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Confession of a music snob - Relient K

I'm not sure how it happened. I'll be honest about that much. One day, I was listening to the radio, the next, I shuddered if someone left the tuner awry. But it's true. Hello, my name is Jessica, and I am a musical snob.

My brother-in-law dubbed my taste "indie," but let's be even more honest, I'm a wimpy indie; I follow a few music blogs that would die laughing if my bar is where the bar is set. But isn't that just the way with, you know, pretty much everything in life? No matter how high-brow I might think I am, someone not very far from here is higher-brow and snickering in my general direction.

That said: my musical taste appears to be shrinking with age. It's not comfortable. I couldn't even describe to you the range I'm in at this moment, only that if it's top-forty, I probably HATE it. I was in the salon for ninety minutes (no lie) last weekend (for a two-inch trim and eyebrow waxing, ninety minutes), and in those ninety minutes, heard maybe two songs that didn't grate on me like a kitchen utensil. TWO. In NINETY MINUTES.

I'm in a bad way.

I tell you all of this so you can understand the bind I put myself in. You see, when I was growing up, our father put a prohibition down on secular music. We listened to our parents' old records and a lot of Christian music. There was even a station that, miraculously, reached us in the middle of nowhere. When, upon striking out on my own at some point, I began to listen once more to secular music, I found myself vowing that my Sundays would be dedicated to Christian music.

*Banging head on desk*

Do you know the state of the Christian music universe? It's there. It's not as though there isn't Christian music galore, musicians with a modicum of talent and heart for the Lord. I simply don't like most of it. You know who I like? Common Children. Yeah, they broke up in 2002. Sixpence None the Richer (I adore Matt Slocum). Jennifer Knapp. Secret & Whisper. Relient K (I'm a new convert). Phil Keaggy. Thousand Foot Krutch. Skillet. Old school MxPx.

My primary complaint is lack of creativity. So much Christian music is rote. I mean, seriously. How many times can I listen to "God of Wonders"? I own no fewer than four CDs with that particular track (City on a Hill, Caedmon's Call In the Company of Angels, Rebecca St. James Worship God, and GlassByrd Open Wide this Window). Sure, it's a great song... or it was. Now, though, I have to wonder, why is everyone else singing it rather than writing their own? (Nicole Nordeman went out on that branch and made a CD of original worship songs called Woven & Spun. I absolutely love it. It's heartfelt and honest and poignant and provocative, and I just love it.)

As I said, I'm a new convert to Relient K. I recieved the Mmhmm album for Christmas and have slowly been getting more and more into it. I enjoy the singer's voice (that's usually my draw, vocals), and the lyrics once in a while really tickle me. On the other hand, I'm also left with songs about his girlfriend's ex-boyfriend and how if said ex hadn't dumped said girlfriend, he wouldn't be the one reaping the benefits. I've taking to skipping these particular gems. However, the songs that question faith and our relationship with our Almighty God strike a chord within me.

(To my mother-in-law, this is not your cup of tea. However, if you can get through the first two and a half minutes, you'll be rewarded by my favorite part of the entire album. p.s. Please still love me after this.)

I guess that's what I want: I want to hear the resonance of something inside of myself that I can't create for myself. I'm not a musician. I'm not a lyricist; I'm barely a mediocre poet. But I am a worshiper, and I am a listener, and I can hear a whitewash from a mile away.

Please, artists, can't you tap that God-given creativity and push the envelope... just a little? Please? For me?

And to anyone out there reading this, I welcome recommendations. I can't guarantee that I'll love it, because, as I've admitted, my tastes are fairly limited these days, but, goodness, I always need fresh music. Always.