Tuesday, May 29, 2007

May's music

May was a pretty good month for some fine quality music. I can't think of anything good coming up next month, but here is what I picked up for this month:

Rosie Thomas Only With Laughter Can You Win. With this great album, my Rosie Thomas collection is complete. Rosie continues to be one of my main interest in music. Her albums are simply beautiful. Here on Rosie's second album, she sings about love, family, and God. Rosie uses more piano than on some of her other albums producing supremely tasteful folk songs. Rosie is like an island of peace in a furious sea.

Bjork Volta It's been a couple of years since Bjork's last album. Her last album was Medulla which was a experiment in vocalization , but Volta is an experiment in beats and world music. Bjork is one of the most creative and innovative artist around (as you could tell by the cover). I really dig the first half of the album. The songs are classic Bjork with experiments in sound and rhythm. The best is the opening track, the eco friendly Earth Intruders. Unfortunately half way through the album, it all falls flat. The last four tracks start blending together so much were you just don't care anymore. Bjork tries taking a stand on Declare Your Independence but it doesn't suit her.

Travis The Boy With No Name Properly the best new album this year. After their last album 13 memories got a mixed response, Travis return to what they do best, making pop friendly guitar jangles. Travis returns to being that band you listen to and think "I bet they're pretty nice guys". Their songs are catchy and timeless. Battleships is my favorite on the album. Singer Fran Healy uses battleships as a metaphor to describe himself and his significant other in the drudge of daily life. It kind of makes you reflect how hard it is keeping in a relationship with all the damage we take through out any given day.

A-Ha Analogue You might remember these guys from the 80's as the "Take On Me" one hit wonders. Back in 2000, they released a comeback album Minor Earth, Major Sky and have been on a roll ever since. A-ha is popular all over Europe but will likely never see success again in the states. Bands like Coldplay, Keane, and even Joy Electric have cited A-ha as a major influence in piano and keyboard pop. A-ha has modernize their sound but keep their catchy sythn pop style. Check out the title track.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

reading Don

Since moving to Portland, I have developed a new appreciation for Don Miller. This could be due to the fact that he's a icon at Imago Dei, but also because he mentions a lot about Portland and Oregon in general in his books. Ever so often, I'll be driving down Burnside and see the "Stump Town Coffee" and think, oh yeah, that was in his book.
In Through Painted Deserts (which I just got done reading), Don writes about his first trip into Oregon which he made via Volkswagen bus with a friend he had recently met.
Unlike Blue Like Jazz ,which was a collection of essays, Don writes this as cross country spiritual journey. The main characters are Don, his friend Paul, and God who makes periodic appearances in the book.
As I read, I kind of felt like Don was in the beginning, that God is out there somewhere. He didn't see God in the concrete metropolis of Houston. Don becomes so disillusioned that he takes up an offer to drive to the northwest with the intention of not coming back anytime soon. I kind of envied Don for taking off in a van one day and driving till you run out of money. Through I have had thoughts like that when I was younger, I never had the courage to act on it.
Don and his friend Paul drive to the Grand Canyon and hike down it. They find they are pretty unprepared for the hike, yet Don found God alive in the sunrise in the canyon. Having seen the canyon myself (a long time ago) you have to appreciate God's creation and how long he took to make it.
After the Grand Canyon, Don drives up to California (where misadventures ensue) and finally into Oregon. Eventually Don ends up working in a country club outside Sisters , Oregon (another place I have recently visited). Don ends up sleeping outside in a tent with his friends most of the summer. He writes about how that was one of the best times in his life. He wrote how God provided everything in the forest and remembered the starry skies being breath taking every night (I really envied this because I've got a thing for starry skies). He begins to see God as a artist with his work in the sky above him each night. I began to wonder isn't it funny how we spend all our energy getting possessions, only to have to leave them behind to find ourselves and appreciate all God has created? With that said, I can't live an hour without my ipod.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Coming Home

After six months in this delightful green state (with beautiful weather), we are coming back to the mid west in June to enjoy the good old Kansas City summer (at least a week of it anyway). Wah-Wah has been wanting to get back to see her sisters again and decided it would be a good time to fly while Nibbles was still underage. Airline prices appear to be going up now to over $300 a ticket. They might go back down, but they might not, so I decided why not?
Our plans for what we are doing over June 6th through June 12th aren't set in stone yet. A good friend in Cedar Falls wants to meet up in Des Moines, so that might be a possibility. Wah-Wah is wanting to have a birthday party for Woogy and Nibbles with all the cousins from Randoul at Chuck E Cheese or Power Play. I know I wouldn't mind stopping by Homer's for Thursday night coffee (if that is still going on).
Lately I've also been missing KC food. The other day I went out to lunch at "Burgerville"(it's a local burger chain that serves only Oregon organic hamburgers). It's good but it is no "Backyard Burger." In fact, the six months I've been here I can't say I've found anything that match's "Oklahoma Joe's" or even "Planet Sub". BBQ isn't very big out here. Most people will tell you it isn't healthy and to have some humus instead. We do have our share of all the regular restaurants like McD's, Wendy's, etc., but they are outnumbered by organic healthy restaurants. I haven't found any dives in a gas station that will serve you a "Z-man" with more fries than you can eat. I haven't even found a pizza that could match "Papa Keno's" Sicilian pizza.
Most of the restaurants around here are ethnic. I do like the variety and trying new things, but I have only found one good restaurant that I would go back to. Yesterday, we took Wah-Wah out to a Cuban restaurant which I loved. I got some sort of turkey and strawberry sandwich with fried bananas. It was delicious but it was no "Dagwood's Dream" (at Planet Sub).
As much as I find myself settling in, I miss the KC food. Hopefully I can pick up a taste in a few weeks.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

April's music

April wasn't a great month for new music. My hopes now are for May with new releases from Bjork and Travis. Worked picked up pace a lot, so I didn't have a lot of music shopping time, but I did find a couple of goodies.

Rosie Thomas These Friends Of Mine--I fell in love with Rosie's music this month and it started with this album. Rosie is a singer/songwriter from Seattle who's music really hits the heart. She explores such themes as love, friendship, God and family. Listen to any of her tunes and you cannot deny that she can sing. Her earlier work is a pretty easy listen despite that she is on a indie label. That's why I really dig this album, it's less accessible and a little more daring. This album has a pretty relaxed feel with less production. It was recorded in various living rooms, but that doesn't demise the quality. Rosie is joined by Dension Witmer, Dave Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and Sufjan Stevens so the their is plenty of talent to draw from. Listen to "Kite Song" and you'll find that it is hard to keep your eyes dry.

Mew Frengers--I wrote about this group last month when I saw them live. This is Mew's first album and I'd have to say that it is just as good as their latest And the Glass Handed Kites. The lead singer's voice reminds me of the guy from Sigur Ros only it's in English. "Snow Brigade" remains my favorite Mew song. It's catchy anthem that sadly never got any air play.