Archive for the ‘music’ Category

New Music Alert

Posted: June 2, 2010 in music

If you follow me on Twitter – and if you don’t what are you waiting for – you will have received my humble suggestion earlier today that you should be checking out the music of “The Letter Black” in the near future.¬† After all, that’s what all the cool people are doing these days. ūüėȬ† In all seriousness though, they are certainly worth at least a listen on their myspace page and certainly worth the purchase and addition to your music collection.

It’s hard driving rock with great harmonies, beautiful vocals, and more than enough musical and lyrical depth to keep you listening to it over and over again.¬† If you have ever enjoyed music from bands like Lacuna Coil or Flyleaf – like these bands the frontman is no man at all, but a woman – you will certainly enjoy The Letter Black.¬† Beyond just the great music, they seem to be great people too.¬† Now in full honesty, it’s not like I got to sit down and do a half hour meet and greet interview with the band but they made themselves more than available for autographs and pictures after their shows and seemed like really humble and wonderful people from what little time I was around them.

I’m not going to be one of those crazy guys that claims that whatever band he’s recently excited about is his new favourite band of all time, but I certainly have enjoyed their music since being introduced to it this past weekend and look forward to lots more in the future.¬† I’ll certainly be a fan for a long time and would go out of my way to try to see them in concert again.¬† Take it for what it’s worth, but you’re missing out if you don’t at least give them a try.

Well, today was my turn to preach again, and as always I love the process of getting there and delivering the message.¬† I always feel blessed to have the opportunity to study and prepare for a week and then share what I’ve learned and been challenged by with a few hundred people on Sunday morning.¬† This morning was Galatians 3:6-9.¬† I was challenged again this week that the heart of God’s covenant with his people isn’t just about blessing his people, but making them a blessing to all those around them.¬† I always think it’s interesting how we can turn Jesus message of hope for the whole of creation and turn it solely into a message of personal salvation.¬† Our culture is becoming more and more social and community oriented and yet the message many of our churches are trying to sell is that Jesus came to save individuals.¬† Now it may not be completely untrue, but I think there’s so much more to it than that and maybe a revisiting of how we’re packaging Jesus message to our culture is probably warranted.

All that being said, now that the task is done for another week, I’m finding myself in a far from unfamiliar place.¬† Kind of like that smell that your pillow takes on when you don’t wash it for a while but you just get used to.¬† It’s not a good smell, and realistically you’d be happier without it, but it’s not altogether nauseous and so you just get used to it.¬† It would take quite a bit of work to do the wash when you have other things in life to accomplish so you just kind of carry on and live with it.¬† That’s what my post sermon blues are like: it’s not altogether debilitating and I know they’ll pass so I just kind of learn to deal with them.¬† With great regularity after preaching I find myself quite exhausted for the rest of the day and am left with an overall bedgraggled feeling: a kind of mix of weariness, insecurity, and depression.¬† This is far from an overwhelming feeling but it often does color the rest of my waking hours with an hue on the blue part of the spectrum.

I think it probably stems from the perfectionist part of me that wishes a few thoughts had come out better, the self-conscious part of me that wonders what people thought of what I said, the defeatest part of me that wonders if it really made any difference, and likely just the overall physical exertion that comes from verbally “opening a vein and bleeding for the congregation” for half an hour as I once read it put.¬† I know that with some sleep and a “day off” tomorrow the world will look much different, but tonight I’m sitting here typing, getting ready for bed, drinking a decaf mocha and listening to Alanis Morrissette’s acoustic re-recording of her “Jagged Little Pill” album.¬† I know I’m dating myself with this, but I still think it’s one of the best albums recorded.

With that I’ll bid you farewell, adieu, and all that other stuff.

itunesWell after much thinking, eating, sleeping, reading, and listening to dozens and dozens of thirty second clips of songs on iTunes, I think I have finally narrowed the list down to eight potential album purchases.¬† Thanks to the wonders of the wordpress upgrade in the new year, I can now post polls here too so with the inaugural poll on this site please vote for three of the eight albums available to choose from.¬† If you like fewer than eight you can pick fewer, but please don’t vote for more than 3.¬† Obviously, all these albums are available on iTunes if you want to hear bits and pieces of what you’re voting for.¬† Hopefully with your help I can have my new music melting my prefrontal cortex within a short amount of time.

itunesThankyou so much to all of you who have taken the time to give me your suggestions for what albums to get.¬† I’ve been listening through them on iTunes – the 30 second previews at least – and I’m giving some of them some thought.¬† They all seem like “good” picks, but I haven’t heard anything that really blows me away yet.¬† Maybe I’m just being too picky, but I’m really hoping to get something outstanding with this final $30.¬† Whiskeytown and Elliot Smith interest me, I’ve always enjoyed Oasis, I’m not a huge electronic music guy, I already have¬† Miles Davis/Diana Krall, and Ellis Paul sounds like quality listening, but it seems as though I have a lot of music that already sounds like most of that stuff.¬† I guess I’m hoping for something different and new that will shake me to my musical core.¬† Something that will break my heart all over again like when I heard Damien Rice for the first time 2 years ago, or blow me away with sheer power like DragonForce did to me a year ago.¬† I know it’s a lot to ask.¬† Maybe I’ve finally reached the point with 600ish albums now that there isn’t anything new and different out there, but I still haven’t found what I’m looking for (thankyou Bono).¬† Is there nothing new under the sun?

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a new album, it could be something that is older that I haven’t heard before or the like.¬† Don’t feel like it needs to be cutting edge music, I’m just in the mood for a new musical experience is all.

Some albums that I had been considering previously (but am not totally sold on) are:

Alterbridge – Blackbird
As I Lay Dying – An Ocean Between Us
Ben Harper – (I don’t even know where to start there)
The Cab – Whisper War
Demon Hunter – Storm the Gates of Hell
Dragonforce – Ultra Beatdown
Fiona Apple – Extraordinary Machine
Lacuna Coil – Karmacode
Pete Yorn – Musicforthemorningafter
Regina Spektor – Soviet Kitsch
Ryan Adams – (there’s a lot to choose from here)
Sufjan Stevens – Illinois
She & Him – Volume 1


itunesI love me my music, and new music is one of the best gifts I can get.  Wonderfully, I have received $80 in iTunes gift cards over the past few months.  However, this also leaves me with somewhat of a quandry: What albums should I buy with said funds?  Thus far, I have spent about $50 of the $80, leaving me with . . . giving my math challenged friends time to do the calculations here . . . $30.  So this is where you come to my aid like a boom box carrying hipster in musical armor: If you could recommend only one album to me that I must own, what would it be?

I’m open to basically any genre (minus hip-hop and ska of course) so fire away with your suggestions.¬† It could be your favorite album or just one you think that I would thoroughly enjoy.¬† Once I have the three winning albums – that’s about what $30 will get you – selected I’ll post them here and let you know what I think of them.¬† Your assistance is greatly appreciated.

New Music Monday

Posted: October 27, 2008 in music
Tags: , , ,

Yes, it’s true that new music actually comes out on Tuesdays and not Mondays, but the music I’m talking about isn’t actually new, it’s just new to me.¬† With my becoming slightly more ancient on Wednesday of last week some people decided to pay me for this feat of death defiance.¬† Some of that money went to pay for my new Devin Hester jersey, but there was quite a bit left over as well.¬† I haven’t bought any new music in quite some time, unlike my two CD a week habit in college, so I decided to perouse the iTunes store and purchase some of the songs that I have been looking to get for a while now.¬† There is likely more purchasing to be done in the near future, but for now these eleven songs will do.

1. Holy DiverKillswitch Engage (metal; cover of the old Dio tune)
2. Sad Man’s TongueVolbeat (european mix of Country and Metal; you have to hear it)
3. American BoyEstelle ft. Kanye West (R&B; I haven’t got the song out of my head in weeks anyways)
4. All These Things That I’ve DoneThe Killers (pop rock)
5. When You Were YoungThe Killers (pop rock; one of my favourite songs on Rockband)
6. Heartbeats (accoustic)Jose Gonzalez (accoustic; yes it’s in english)
7. Collide (accoustic) РHowie Day (accoustic pop; memories from the year at Java Express)
8. Last Request (accoustic)Paolo Nutini (accoustic; way better than the album version)
9. I’m Yours (accoustic)Jason Mraz (accoustic pop; it’s horribly cheesy but the chorus sticks in your head)
10. New York is a WomanSuzanne Vega (adult contemporary; she’s more than just “Tom’s Diner”)
11. Smells Like Teen SpiritPaul Anka (Yes, you’re reading it right it’s by Paul Anka)

Essentially all of these songs, minus the ones from The Killers, are songs that I’ve had on my alerts on my XM and Sirius radios.¬† Now I can open up¬†nine of those 20 alert spaces to make room for new songs since I can hear them wheneve I want now.¬† Obviously it’s a pretty ecclectic group of songs with everything from jazz, accoustic rock, pop rock, R&B, and metal by artists from all over the world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.¬† I love each of these songs for different reasons, but they do make up an interesting mix CD.¬† I’d love to be able to put up links so you can hear these songs, but I have no idea how to make that happen if it’s possible at all.¬† I’m sure if you look around you can find places to hear each one of them.¬† I know that I have the sidebar to let you see exactly what I’ve been listening to lately, but I was too excited about these new songs not to mention them specially.¬† If any of you are on and don’t have me as a friend make sure to add “benyamen”, and if you aren’t that technologically interested, just leave me a comment and let me know what you’re listening to.¬† It’s not a contest, but I am curious.

At first you may be thinking, “Wow, that’s a really interesting idea for a post. How original! There are lots of people I’d like to meet, but would I want to barbecue with them? I wonder what interesting people Ben would invite?” You may be thinking these thoughts, unless your name is Brad in which case you are wondering when I’m going to give you credit for ripping off your idea for an interesting and original blog post.¬† Well like I said last time, I haven’t had much original thought lately, but it’s likely better off ripping off an interesting idea from someone else than having no ideas at all.¬† Brad wrote about the five people he’s never met that he’d like to have over for a backyard barbecue, however I don’t have a backyard so I barbecue in my front yard.¬† I’m just finishing up “Everything Must Change” by Brian McLaren, and I’ll have a lot more ripped off thoughts to share with you after that.¬† It’s nice to have some thoughts of any value again.¬† Anyways, on to the list:

1. George W. Bush – This isn’t to say I’m a big fan of his.¬† He’s made a number of good decisions and been helpful with aid and helping with AIDS in Africa, unfortunately anything good he’s done has been totally overshadowed by his numerous mistakes.¬† Realistically though, I think it would be really interesting to sit down and talk with a man who seemingly the entire world disagrees with and despises, but yet is able to stick to his guns; literally and figuratively.¬† I think he’d have a lot of interesting insights to offer and realistically who does a more hillarious “W” impression than George himself.

2. Damien Rice – This is to say I’m a big fan of his.¬† Oh Damien, you have been hurt.¬† Who hurt you Damien?¬† Who?¬† Damien Rice is easily my favorite musician alive today.¬† His heartfelt and desperately honest music and lyrics have touched me and made me think about life in ways few other people have.¬† His song “Dogs” was one of the few things that helped me through my two weeks in the hospital while my son Payton was life threateningly ill.¬† If nothing else, I’d love to have him there to say thankyou for what he’s done for me without even knowing it.¬† I’d love to ask him to perform a couple songs, but I wouldn’t ask him for it.¬† We all need a place and a group of people that we don’t have to perform for.¬† Maybe my front yard patio could be that for him.

3. Steven L. Anderson – Pick your jaws up off the floor.¬† I don’t want to clean that up.¬† If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while you’ll remember my disdain for Steven L. Anderson and his angry, bitter, spiteful, misleading version of Christianity, but with him around the conversation certainly would never get boring.¬† I’d like to be able to sit down with a guy like him and ask him where he gets his thoughts, convictions and general rage from.¬† How did he become who he is and why is he convinced the world would be better if more people were like him.¬† I’d love to sit him down with my next invitee and just watch the fireworks.

4.¬†Irwin McManus¬†– Irwin is generally a fairly soft spoken man, but if you start talking about spiritual things I think you’d get to see the Latino side of him get fired up and lose it on Steven L.¬† I think the exchange would be priceless.¬† Irwin is one of most wonderful, godly men that I’ve never personally met but feel I know because of how much I’ve heard him speak.¬† I think his soft heart and clear thinking are such a breath of fresh air in Christian circles.¬† He loves God and wants to help other people learn to love God too.¬† That’s a man I would like to get to know.¬† He also loves good coffee and steak . . . what more can you ask for in a friend?

5. Solid Snake – Okay, fine I’ll pick a real person.¬† Seriously though, how awesome would it be to have barbecue with Solid Snake?

5. Mike Ditka – Okay, who would win a fight between Ditka and Steven L. Anderson?¬† By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who feels the need to constantly use their middle initial in their name who was a balanced and well grounded person.¬† I’d love to meet Ditka.¬† He’s crazy, but he’s fun crazy.¬† Not just that but he knows football and loves football.¬† He is the only coach to ever lead my Chicago Bears to a Superbowl.¬† He’s the only Head Coach in anything to ever win a championship while hating his Assistant Coach so much that they still haven’t talked to this day twenty-three years later.¬† That’s a man who stands by his convictions.¬† This isn’t to say it’s right, but he didn’t get the nickname “Iron Mike” for nothing.

Anyways, there’s my front yard barbecue invite list.¬† If any of those of you who are invited happen to read this and are interested in coming, just leave me a comment with your email address and we’ll work out the details.¬† My house isn’t that fancy and my barbecue isn’t that big, but I’d love to cook you a slab of dead cow to eat; between bread or not.¬† If you’re vegetarian than tofu burgers it is.

Anyone on the list that shocks you?¬† Anyone that you are surprised that I didn’t invite.¬† Just because Brad only invited five to his backyard barbecue doesn’t mean that I couldn’t invite more.¬† I’m not tied to anyone’s ideas.¬† Does that make mine an original now?

shocked.jpgTonight I heard Dragonforce on the XM42 Liquid Metal station.¬† My mouth still hasn’t closed, and that’s not just because I’m a mouth breather with a cold.¬† I know a lot of music, and like I said a few posts ago, I’m re-embracing my metal side.¬† Why have I never heard these guys before?¬† Which of my friends that have heard these guys have been holding out on me?¬† It’s fast, it’s melodic, it’s . . . unbelievable.¬† My ears haven’t been this happy since Extol’s Undeceived album came out years ago.¬† The lyrics are very Lord of the Rings-ish, which is neither here nor there for me, but the guitar . . . wow.¬† Sometimes all you can say is . . . wow.¬† Those of you who have played Guitar Hero III have likely heard them before as they appear in the game, and for those of you who haven’t heard them before, take your ears out for a treat and click the link at the beginning of the post.¬† Your ears will thank you and your world will never be the same.

metal.jpgFor those of you who are worried by the title; no I haven’t recently had any pins or rods inserted into my body for any serious injuries, and no I’m not talking about metal in me like the iron in my blood.¬† I saw what too much iron in your blood could lead to in X-Men¬†2 when Magneto sucked it right out of the guy.¬† That was kind of cool to see in a movie, but I certainly wouldn’t want to experience it myself.¬† And no, I’m not even talking about my inherent inexplicable love for the Metal Gear Solid video game series because I won’t fully be able to re-embrace that part of me until I get my new PS3.¬† No, the metal I’m speaking of here is of the heavy description.¬† I am re-embracing the harder side of my musical persona.

Now before you jump to any conclusions, this is not to say that I am rejecting the Damien Rice’s and Amos Lee’s of my music collection.¬† I still think they are some of the most talented musicians on the planet and they will always have a regular slot in my playlist, but recently I have had a reawakening of the darker side of me that loves hard music, especially metal.¬† I’ve been listening to my old Extol albums more, I bought a Revolver magazine last week to see what’s going on in the current scene (and to read the interview with Ryan Clark of Demon Hunter), I bought an As I Lay Dying t-shirt in Edmonton, and I’ve been having the recurring desire to pierce things and get tatoos.¬† No, I haven’t had anything done yet.¬† My church is pretty loving and open-minded, but I don’t think their quite ready for a painted and hole-punched pastor yet.¬† The church encourages pursuing the arts, but don’t encourage becoming art.¬† The church encourages holiness, but not hole-iness.

I say re-embracing the metal in me because I had my first real awakening about ten years ago when I first went to college.¬† Prior to this, my musical world consisted almost completely of country music and some gospel.¬† When I moved into dorm though an entirely new world was opened up to me and my musical desires have never been the same since.¬† I’ve grown to love the screams and harmonies of the guitars, the screams and harmonies of the vocals, and the overall passion and vibe that the music as a genre exudes.¬† Over the past couple years I haven’t listened to as much metal as I’ve discovered such accoustic and folk music greats as Damien Rice, Amos Lee, and Ryan Adams, but through it all there was still a piece of me that wanted something a little darker.¬† Something in my life was missing and I just recently discovered it was the fact that I had been missing out on the metal.¬† So with this great epiphany in mind, I have decided to re-embrace my metal.¬† Now I don’t expect Jenn to follow suit – she can’t re-embrace what she rejected to start with – but there is hope for Payton.¬† Of all the kinds of music I have introduced him to so far, he seems to like the metal.¬† It doesn’t scare him.¬† It doesn’t make him cry.¬† In fact he has even been known to smile while we rock out to Mortification together.¬† I won’t force anything on him, but I do think it would be a lot of fun if this is one thing that we could learn to enjoy together.

So before I nod off to sleep tonight I will encourage you to embrace your metal side.¬† If you haven’t found it before, take a look for it sometime.¬† You might even find out that you like it.

The Soundtrack of My Life . . . ?

Posted: November 17, 2007 in life, music, Random
Tags: , , ,

life.jpgI found this interesting little exercise in the comments of Knotter’s blog and thought I would give it a go.¬† As all of you who know me at all know, I am a hopeless music addict.¬† Between Jenn and I we have over 500 some albums.¬† Right now there are 327 albums listed in my iTunes library, but I know for a fact there are tons of cd’s left that I have yet to rip to my computer.¬† I think if we’re being honest, just about all of us have some kind of soundtrack to our lives – we have songs that run through our heads at different moments in life – so I guess this is just an attempt at randomly picking that soundtrack from the music I have currently on my computer.¬† As you’ll see, some of the songs are a bit of a stretch to make fit, while others fit eerily well.¬† I hope you have fun reading through it.¬† Feel free to let me know what you think of the soundtrack of my life, and let me know what your results are when you do it yourself.

Here it is, The soundtrack of my life. * As decided by my iTunes. * The Rules:
1. Open your library (iTunes, Winamp, Media Player, iPod, etc)
2. Put it on shuffle
3. Press play
4. For every question, type the song that’s playing
5. When you go to a new question, press the next button

Opening Credits:
20 Years of Snow – Regina Spektor > For those of you not familiar with Ms. Spektor’s music this is a beautiful little piano tune that gives you the impression of standing outside on a sunny day with the snow falling softly on your face as you’re overwhelmed by the beauty of a winter scene in the forest.¬† Okay, so I’m giving you my impression of it; it’s all I have.¬† A very good opening intro.

Waking Up:
Last View – Frodus > Okay, so I wasn’t planning on Frodus making it into my life soundtrack, but I own the disc so what can I do.¬† They are a late 90’s punk/hardcore band.¬† Needless to say this a rather shocking way to wake up in my life, but I guess it would get me pumped up and moving pretty quickly which I do need sometimes because I’m far from a morning person.

First Day of School:
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – Blues Traveler > It’s an upbeat bluesy guitar and harmonica dominated instrumental.¬† I must be the cocky new kid with a leather jacket and tatoos with aviator shades.

Falling In Love:
Sometimes Wanna Die – Joy Drop > What a great song to get!¬† I don’t think there are many guys who could deny that when they first fall for a girl they feel like “they sometimes wanna die”.¬† It’s just such an overwhelming feeling that you’re not sure if you’re going to make it.

Fight Song:
Ode to Chin – Switchfoot > Well another hit out of the park!¬† Given the song isn’t necessarily about hitting a guy in the mouth, but just the title “Ode to Chin” makes it a perfect tune for duking it out.

Breaking Up:
Brand New Beau – Amanda Marshall > Make it three in a row!¬† A break up song all about finding a new love because the old one ran off on you.¬† Can’t say it’s the story of my life, but for a generic life soundtrack it’s a pretty great fit.

That Song – Big Wreck > “I always get nostalgic when I hear that song”, is the first line.¬† Maybe not the perfect dance tune, but a good tune from my highschool days that’s about a song that reminds him of his good old days.¬† Decent fit.

Woman – Maroon 5 > This has been one of my favourite songs of late, so I wouldn’t turn it down as a song to live with.¬† It’s a pretty mellow tune that gives me the impression of chilling in front of a fireplace on a leather sofa or confidently walking down a darkened, rain covered, mainstreet by only the lights of the neon signs as you go to meet your girlfriend at the club.¬† It’s got that smooth vibe to it.¬† I guess it fits to some extent as for much of my life to this point (just about half of it: ages 12-22) where I spent the majority of my time trying to figure out women.¬† Not that I have it case now, but I’m pretty comfortable with my situation.

Mental Breakdown:
Sweetness – Jimmy Eat World > I guess this is a good song for a mental breakdown if that breakdown is going into some kind of manic state.¬† It’s pretty upbeat and driving.¬† It’s maybe the worst fit of any of the songs so far because I know for sure that if I have a psychotic break at some point it will be into depression just based on the nature of personality.¬† I have no excuse for this tune.

Beauty Through The Eyes of a Predator – Demon Hunter > Who doesn’t love driving to some tune you can completely rock out to?¬† All Demon Hunter tunes are great for hopping in the car and driving ’til your wheels fall off to.¬† I guess the line “You brought this verdict on yourself” comes shortly after the speeding ticket.¬† It even has a kind of siren sound in the background at one point.

My Life – Plus One > Ya, so this is kind of embarassing, but rules are rules.¬† Yes, I own the Plus One cd (think Christian Backstreet Boys).¬† I guess though, despite the band, the song is a good song for a flashback as it’s called “My Life”.¬† At least “Soul Tatoo” didn’t come up.

Getting Back Together:
Early Mornin’ Rain – Gordon Lightfoot > Another good fit, this is actually working out eerily well.¬† The song is kind of an introspective guitar balad, like all of Lightfoot’s tunes.¬† This one is about a guy on a plane missing his lady and wishing they were back together again.¬† I’ve been there before a few times so I like the fit.

You – Switchfoot > It’s a good song for your wife to be to walk down the aisle to.¬† I think it may even have been the wedding song in “A Walk to Remember” . . . yes I’ve seen the movie a few times, laugh if you want.

Birth of Child:
These are the Special Times – Celine Dion > Okay, so you can look at it two ways: 1. I have broad and healthy musical tastes.¬† 2. I have to turn in my man card right now.¬† I prefer to think of it in terms of number 1.¬† So what if I have like 8 Celine Dion cd’s, she’s really talented, so deal with it.¬† I guess that with my son on the way “these are the special times” is a pretty good fit too because it will be a pretty special time.¬† So what if it’s supposed to be a Christmas song, it’s almost Christmas.

Final Battle:
The Innocence Spilled РAs I Lay Dying > What a GREAT tune for the final battle!  Pure agression in musical form!  I love this band and this tune is just a fight scene painted in music notes.  I can see myself in the final duel to this tune easily.

Death Scene:
Foolish Games – Jewel > Wow, am I a drama queen or what.¬† I get to die to this heart wrenching piano ballad as we all look introspectively at my life.¬† So what if it was on the Batman Forever soundtrack back in the day, it doesn’t have to ruin the song completely.

Funeral Song:
Ants Marching – Dave Matthews Band > So the song is a little cheerier than I would have hoped for.¬† I guess the song being about the silliness of modern life fits though.¬† It was a good life and I want people to remember my life with happiness.¬† At least it’s not some Klingon funeral dirge.

Ending Credits:
When You’re Gone – Bryan Adams > Okay, so I’m really hoping that the end of my life isn’t marked by a Bryan Adams/Mel C. duet.¬† It’s not a terrible song, but if this is the credit roll song for my life, people are not going to be sticking around to see the out takes.

¬†Well, this was a lot of fun to do.¬† If you want a copy of my life soundtrack just let me know and maybe I’ll mail you a copy of the disc.