Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Top 10 Favorite Albums of 2009

Here is my list of my Top 10 favorite albums of 2009, starting with 5 honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention (In alphabetical order)

As Tall As Lions - You Can't Take It With You
Triple Crown Records

Favorite Tracks: In Case Of Rapture, We's Been Waitin'

Between The Trees - Spain
Bonded Records

Favorite Tracks: We Can Try, The One Thing

David Bazan - Curse Your Branches
Barsuk Records

Favorite Tracks: Please, Baby, Please, In Stiches

The Fray - The Fray
Epic Records

Favorite Tracks: Never Say Never, Ungodly Hour

Thrice - Beggars
Vagrant Records

Favorite Tracks: In Exile, Beggars

And now for the top 10.


Sufjan Stevens - The BQE: The Motion Picture Soundtrack
Asthmatic Kitty Records

This album blew me away initially. An instrumental album, it really keeps you involved with it's huge range of instrumentation. From very classical style (Introductory Fanfare For The Hooper Heroes) to programming/techno style songs (Movement IV: Traffic Shock), this album is full of beauty and surprises. If you appreciate instrumental music whatsoever, please check out this album.


Barcelona - Absolutes
Motown Records

From the very first track, Falling Out Of Trees, I knew I would love this album. This piano based album is a wonderful one from track one to track thirteen. And word on the street is that these guys put on an absolutely tremendous live show. Hopefully one day I'll get to see it, and I hope you get to as well.


This Providence - Who Are You Now?
Fueled By Ramen Records

I found out about these around the time they toured with Relient K in October of 2008. I downloaded their ST album and was a huge fan. I loved Dan Young's voice and the way it blended with the music. But when Who Are You Now? released in January, I knew these guys had something good going. Their first track, Sure As Hell really set the tone for the album, and I liked said tone. The music had really matured, and the lyrics were just as great. This is one of those albums that flat out doesn't have a bad track. Good, good stuff from a pretty underrated band.


MUTEMATH - Armistice
Teleprompt/Warner Bros. Records

This album almost destroyed MUTEMATH. They had an entire album already recorded, but they weren't real excited about the songs. They brought in Dennis Herring as their producer, who told them that all those songs sucked and they needed to write new stuff. Inspired by such brutal honesty, Armistice came out of that. And what a great record it is. This album is a little more poppy than their previous work, but still just as creative and unique as their ST album, if not better. I had the privilege of seeing this guys live, and it was just mind blowing. These 4 guys are so good at their respective positions in the band, and they play together so well.


Matt Hires - Take Us To The Start
F-Stop Records

This is an album I accidentally stumbled across, and I'm sure glad I did. This album is incredibly catchy and once you start it, you just gotta listen to it all the way through. Matt is a rather unknown artist in the industry, and I really hope for his sake that he gets a ton of exposure, because he has an incredible amount of potential.


The Dangerous Summer - Reach For The Sun
Hopeless Records

Talk about coming out of nowhere. My roommate from last year stumbled upon these guys just about a month before this album came out, having only their debut EP. It took a few spins of that for me to get used to this guy's voice, but it steadily grew on me. By the time their full length LP came out, I was hooked. AJ Perdomo has a very distinct voice, but it's one of passion and great skill. Keep your eyes on these guys, because they're exploding, and fast.


Mat Kearney - City Of Black & White
Aware Records

If you came into this album expecting more pseudo-rap spoken word talk, you were letdown. If you came in with an open mind, you were probably just as equally impressed as I was. Mat Kearney's voice has matured, and so has his music. From very upbeat songs like All I Have to the piano based New York To California, this album is filled with gems. The closing track is beautifully done with a stunning ending. After one listen, I was in love. Great work, Mat.


Sherwood - QU
MySpace/Interscope Records

I've always liked Sherwood. If I ever wanted a break from my typical routine of music, I'd give one of their older EPs a listen, just for something to have on. When I found this album, I didn't even realize they were recording new stuff still. Boy, I'm glad I found this album. The opening track, Shelter, is a 55 second a capella track that just gets you pumped for the rest of the album. From there on out, each and every track is just flat out good. Guest vocals from Molly Jenson on Worn just make the song. If you get a chance, check out her newest album, too. (Maybe Tomorrow)


Relient K - Forget And Not Slow Down
Jive Records

Ohhh Relient K. I found out about these guys shortly after the release of their album mmhmm, and that quickly became one of my favorite albums of all time. Track after track on that album was so well written, and I knew these guys were good. Then came Five Score and Seven Years Ago. I thought, "Eh, these guys are pretty good, but I know these guys have more in them. Then came Forget And Not Slow Down. I knew after just one listen that this would be one of those albums that brought my faith back in Relient K. Tracks like Sahara, Savannah, and If You Believe Me make me realize that after so many years, Relient K is simply getting better.


Switchfoot - Hello Hurricane
lowercase people/Atlantic Records

So this is probably a little biased because I am such a big Switchfoot fan, but wow. In August of 2007, Switchfoot severed ties with their record label. After 4 solo EPs and a side project (Fiction Family), Jon and the gang got together, recorded over 80 songs, struggled through the decision making of what to cut and what to leave, and the end result was their record Hello Hurricane. And what a great ending to a great struggle. This album is what I would consider a "grower." With each and every listen, you notice little things that make you say "Wow, this album is incredible." I could go on a full-out review for each and every song, but I'll save my breath and your time both. If you really want to find out how good it is, go pick it up. Chances are that you won't be disappointed.

Thanks for reading through this. If I persuaded you to at least give one album a listen, I did my job.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Why music shouldn't be labeled "Christian"

I recently read a review on Switchfoot's new album, "Hello Hurricane." The reviewer ended the review by saying,
"...And that is where Switchfoot succeeds in becoming more than just a rock band.Because the reality is that it would be easy for an openly Christian band like Switchfoot to make their art inaccessible to someone like me. I have no doubt that when Jon Foreman says 'love,' a certain segment of his listeners hear 'faith in Jesus Christ.' But he never uses those words in these songs; he never puts up barriers between the band and those in their audience who are of other faiths, or none. In a world beset with conflicts rooted in religious differences, what could be more meaningful than a very public demonstration that it’s possible to remain true to one’s own faith without excluding anyone who might believe differently?"

This is what's it's about. I don't really know how to say what I want to say, to be honest, but I feel like this is how "Christian" artists should approach the industry. If you want people to see that you're a "Christian band," show it by your actions, not by your title. If you want to share the Gospel with the world, you gotta get it out of the 4 church walls.

I'm done ranting.

1:57 am
Album - Hello Hurricane

Monday, July 6, 2009

What I Hate About These Two Sites


Here are two sites right here that really aggravate me. I'm sure there are plenty more like them, but these are the two I'm familiar with.

These two sites review music, video games and movies and tell us whether they are "morally acceptable." These are my questions: How impressionable am I really? What makes the people who review these things incapable of being hurt by the media they are taking in? Are these "Super Christians" not capable of being morally injured by viewing the media they're reviewing? And if not, why don't we all just reach this level of Christianity so that we are all incapable of being demolished by this media?

This is my view on media: If you are responsible enough and mature enough to realize what is real and what is not, then I find you responsible enough to view said media. People who go out and watch "Public Enemies" are not gonna say, "Hey, if Johnny Depp can rob a bank, why can't I?" Get real.

Do I think people are influenced by media? Absolutely. I know I am. But how deeply you are influenced by media is up to you. Do I listen to strictly Christian music? Nope. I listen to music that has thought provoking lyrics, and music that makes you think. And believe it or not, you can get a lot out of lyrics that don't always fit the "Christian Music" box.

4:40 pm
Where I Want To Be
The Dangerous Summer
Album -
Reach For The Sun

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Friday, June 12, 2009


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Changing Majors

So as of yesterday, I am no longer a music major. I decided about a week ago now that I was going to change it, and people have been asking me why. Most of those people I told, "Give me a few days, and I'll write a blog about it." Well, it took me a few days, but here it is.

I have a few reasons why I have decided not to be a CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) major anymore. In no particular order.

1) Guitar lessons. Good grief, these sucks. Sure, these seem logical to be taking if you are going to be a performance major, but I was a Recording/Production major. I think it's great to have the option to take lessons, but I certainly do not think they should be required if you do not plan on being a performance major.

2) Piano class. Again, this seems logical for some parts of the CCM major, but 4 semesters of piano if you are going to be a Recording/Production major is frivolous.

3) CCM. Yes, I said it. I have been doing some thinking recently, and I have come to the realization that CCM is something that I don't want to have labeled on my college degree. I feel that the Christian entertainment industry is approaching its audience from the wrong angle. To me, it seems that they are promoting their products as such: "Why listen to secular garbage when you can be a good Christian and listen to this good God music?" The same goes with the new movies they are making. And to be honest, I feel they are making a mockery of themselves. I recently read an interview on Jesus Freak Hideout, most definitely a Christian music website. They interviewed the lead singer from The Classic Crime, and I love how Matt counters the interviewers loaded questions. Here's just a small excerpt of the interview. To read it all, click here.

JFH (John): Does it ever hit you like when you're playing in a bar, and you see the certain people in the audience and you just kind of think about stuff like that?
Matt: Yeah! I mean, we prefer to play places where there is the higher opportunity of people who are hurting or people who are sad or depressed or who have gone through abusive situations because we feel like those people really need music to lift their spirits and take them through certain periods in their life as therapy.

JFH (John): Yeah, you'll find that almost anywhere.
Matt: You will find that anywhere.

JFH (John): Like, you could be playing in a church, and just because they feel like they can't show it, doesn't mean they aren't going through it.
Matt: Right. No definitely, they're everywhere and that's the good thing about us where we cross over different genres and we're trying to reach everybody, you know? Not just trying to be exclusive to one group of people. And it's not just that, we have pop songs for people who just want to sing along and are happy you know?

JFH (John): It's kind of a loaded question, but do you think there is a need and a purpose for Christian music?
Matt: You know, I have yet to define what Christian music is. I know what worship and praise music is, music directed towards God, but I don't know if you can mix a belief or a system of beliefs with your music, because I mean, obviously if you're a Christian or a Muslim or a Jew and you're very serious about your faith, it's going to come out in your music. But I don't think there's Jewish rock or Muslim rock or, you know?

JFH (John): …but I also realize as I'm getting older, that it's kind of a bit taboo to try calling a band a "Christian band" in this day in age and especially now with the state of the industry where it's pretty much that worship music seems to make up the most of what people consider "Christian music" and then most of the rock bands and such just don't want anything to do with the whole Christian music industry...
Matt: Well and it has nothing to do with the Christian bands they grew up with, it has nothing to do with the Christian bands that they like, cause everybody likes a few that call themselves "Christian." It has to do with the fact that the industry, for a lot of people, rubs people the wrong way. The money that's involved, or the money that's spent on safe music, and the parents are just trying to get something for their kids that's safe, and that's understandable. But at 19 dollars a CD, with all the profit going to these people and not the artist, not the consumer, there is profit on the mind with an exclusive industry like that. And so as much good as it is for the kids to have safety and something that's going to inspire them, something that's going to make them feel like they belong to something...

But that's enough of my rant on CCM, and the Christian entertainment industry as a whole. Please do yourself a favor and read the whole interview. Matt puts it so well in some of the other questions that I did not post here.

4) God. I have been thinking about this decision for quite a while, most of this semester really. I prayed long and hard about this decision, and I feel that this is where I need to be.

To conclude, I have decided to become a Digital Media: Audio Recording major. It's a similar program, with some of the classes being the same, but it's more of the technical side of things instead of the music side of things.

Now whether or not you agree with what I had to say, I still appreciate feedback and most definitely appreciate your prayers. College has been a trying time for me, and especially for my parents in the financial department. Thank you again.

9:53 am

Look After You
The Fray
Album - How To Save A Life

Monday, March 30, 2009

Evangelism: How I Perceive It

I suppose you could say this is an extension of a prior blog concerning Christianity. Today I will be focusing on Evangelism, and how I find it to be most effective.

As a 19 year old college student who grew up in church, I have heard countless times the "right" way to tell others about Jesus Christ. And for the longest time, I always wondered if this was the best way. I was taught to initiate a conversation, whether it be friend or stranger, and simply start by asking them, "If you were to die right now, do you know where you would go?" Ideally, they would give an answer of "No, I don't. Please, tell me more..." and then you would go on to tell them about the Good News and you would lead them to salvation in a matter of minutes. In theory this sounds like a great idea. And I have heard countless stories of missionaries meeting strangers in taxicabs and street corners and using this method and it working flawlessly. And while I wouldn't go as far as to say this way of evangelism is an ineffective method, I feel that there is a much more productive way of going about it.


Friendships are a crucial part of life. No matter how shy or outgoing you are, we all strive to have friendships in this life. As a Christian, I feel the best way to share my faith is through loving others, especially nonbelievers. By showing someone who doesn't believe in Jesus Christ the love he has given me, I am evangelizing right there. I feel that a bond, a connection, an actual friendship must be formed first and foremost. When that happens, you have formed a trust. Only after they have your trust will they truly listen to and respect what you say.

Now some may argue, "What if God comes back before you actually tell them? You wasted all that time when you could've spent a few minutes just telling them!" While my answer is certainly not entirely biblically based, I have the belief that if you are earnestly working on a friend in leading them to Christ, it will be worked out in God's time, not our own.

This is simply something that has really been weighing on me recently, and I felt I needed to say it.


4:52 pm

White As Snow
Jon Foreman
Album - Winter - EP

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

My Venture Into The Vlogging World

Let's see if I can keep this up. I'll try and do a weekly one.

4:09 pm

John Mayer
Album - Heavier Things

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A New Stage In My Life pt 1

It's already midterm of my second semester of college. Where does the time go? This semester has been a very difficult one, and a very stressful one as well. These past fews months have been a very interesting point in my life, and have helped me realize how much my life is changing in these coming months and years.

In January, I met this wonderful girl who is now my girlfriend. Getting to know her the past few months and being able to see her through some very trying times in her life have helped me understand how thankful I am for the things Christ has put in my life.

In February, I was the best man in one of my best friend's weddings. I was honored that he asked me, and especially grateful that he even asked me to help him play a song at the wedding. It also made me realize that I'm getting old. And fast.

This September, I will no longer be able to call myself a teenager, and I think it will take quite a while for that to sink in...

In just a few days, I'm going to be heading home for Spring Break, and I am thrilled. It will be nice to take a break from the ridiculous studies of school and be able to meet up again with old friends.

While this isn't much of thought provoking blog post, I have a feeling I will be elaborating on the continual changing of my life and how the world around me is impacting me.


3:29 am

I Will Possess Your Heart
Death Cab For Cutie
Album - Narrow Stairs

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Christianity: How I Perceive It

Approximately 12 years ago, I gave my life to Jesus Christ. Though I was young, seven years old, I comprehended the difference between right and wrong, and that without His salvation that I would go to Hell. In the book of Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus tells His disciples, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." However, I feel that a lot of times people misunderstand how to really make disciples of all nations.

Too often, I see Christians attempt to convert people in a very degrading way. When Christians simply go up to a non-believer and tell them, "Hey, you're going straight to Hell. You better change your ways, or else." you are not helping anyone. A lot of times I see Christians who do not want to be friends with those who are not believers. When I hear about this, I am reminded of the people who Jesus surrounded himself with.

We are told of Matthew, the tax collector. In the days of Jesus, tax collectors were not well liked people, due to the fact that they typically overtaxed people in order to make an income of their own. For Matthew to do this to his own Jewish people was something that by today's standards would have this man in jail. Despite this fact, Jesus selected him to be one of his closest companions and follow him daily.

We are all familiar with the song, "Zacchaeus was a wee little man..." but most of us don't really know the story about Zacchaeus, either. Zacchaeus, like Matthew, was a tax collector as well. When Jesus told Zacchaeus, "I will be coming to your house today," the crowd was shocked that he would lower himself so much to dine with such a terrible man so full of sin.[1]

The example that Jesus set for us is one that we should follow: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself."[2] It is not our job to judge others, for the Bible says, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."[3] Our job, as Christians, is to show love to everyone, regardless of their beliefs. When we befriend someone who is a non-believer and show them love and do not judge them, they are often more likely to respect your beliefs and listen to what you have to say.


1 - Luke 19:1-10
2 - Matthew 25:37-39
3 - Matthew 7:1


4:57 pm

Love Is The Movement
Album - Learning To Breathe

Friday, January 2, 2009

My Mom Is My Super Hero

I put on my sleep playlist this evening, and put on Between The Tree's She Is..., and as I was trying to listen to the words, I could've sworn the chorus said, "My mom is my super hero." So as I tried to stay up listening to the lyrics, I just had to grab my computer and look up the lyrics for myself. And sure enough, I was right. And although I do plan on posting the rest of the words, I would first like to say how great my mom has been to me. I have mentioned her in prior blogs, I decided what better way to honor is than by giving her a blog of her own.

My mother was born in the small town of Bunker Hill, Illinois. When she was 6 months old, an enormous tornado hit this town, killing numerous people, including all of her siblings as well as her parents. She was the lone survivor. When word got to her aunt and uncle in Eldorado, Illinois, they came to rescue her and raise her back in Eldorado.

I am the 4th of 4 children by my mother. She had her first two sons, Kelly & Aaron, from a previous marriage. In 1987, she had my brother Michael and in 1989 I was born. Soon after I was born, she discovered that Michael had a peculiar disorder that was fairly rare at the time, Autism. At the time, no one knew hardly anything about Autism, and my mother was in this large majority. She, however, did not plan on staying in that majority. For the next several years of her life, she did all she could to learn more about this disease, and how she could give Michael the most normal life he could possibly have.

There were plenty of struggles when it came to Michael's Autism. He did not speak until the age of 6. Because of this, he was unable to tell us what he wanted, which oftentimes led to large temper tantrums and outbursts. Eating in public was a rare occasion for us, because of the frequency of the said outbursts. Recently, my mother and I were at a restaurant and we saw a kid running around with no discipline, and the parents were doing nothing to corral him. I said to her, "Mom, I don't ever being like that; just running around in restaurants like that." She quickly retorted, "You never did that. There was never time for you to misbehave with all of Michael's temper tantrums."

Though we look back on it now and laugh, it was far from a laughing matter at the time. There were times throughout elementary school that I was taken out of class as a 2nd or 3rd grader to come to Michael's classroom to come calm him down. I was the "older brother", and there was nothing I could do about it. I remember on numerous occasions having adults say to me at a young age, "Why do you do that? How can you do that?" I told them, "I have to. He's my brother, and I love him." At a young age I realized that I had to grow up, and fast. I remember specifically one adult telling my mother, "He'll never turn out normal because he's had to be around Michael all his life." Now I know for a fact I would not be the man I am now without a brother like Michael.

My mother is one of the most incredibly caring and loving persons that I have ever met. As a freshman in high school, the two of us had an opportunity to go on a mission trip to Honduras. Going in, I knew a minimal amount of Spanish; enough of it to small talk with the young children. My mother, on the other hand, had trouble saying, "Hola." But I'll tell you, that sure didn't stop her from loving those children. She'd hold them in her lap, give them a big hug, and spoke to them in a language they mutually understood: love. Time and time again I have seen it through my mother. Through her Sunday School teaching, and the kids hanging on every word she says. Through the mission trips, and doing anything and everything that was asked of her. Through her job as a school nurse at a Behavior Disorder school, where you would think it is an impossible place to love kids.

When I became interested in music, she soon became my number one fan. She bought me my first guitar, and has come to nearly every show I have played. She supported my decision to major in music, and my decision to go to an extremely expensive private school for my education.

In Proverbs, it says "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." My mother has been the ultimate example of love, and I couldn't ask for more. I love you, mommy.


6:30 am

She opens up my bedroom door
She's waking me up soon
"I'm turning on the light" she warns
It's the little things that you do
She's the one that starts my day
My dear mom, my comforter, my friend forever
When life's right or wrong
She is also my laughter
Yet my sholuder to cry on

My mom is my super hero
My mom is my world

All out of gas no place to go
She knows just what I'll say
She turns and laughs and opens up her purse
And gives enough for the week
She didn't have to give but she did
It's just the kind of woman she is
Love, she is love
My dear mom

Love is an action that she shows me often.
Even when it's not in her kisses
Blessed with a mom who puts herself after her children.
It dosen't get much better than priceless

She Is...
Between The Trees
Album - The Story And The Song