Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaguration: Some Thoughts

This morning I woke to the sounds of the inauguration of our 44th President of the United States. I couldn't help but be reminded of September 11th 2001 when similarly I was awoken by the sounds of TV new noise. It is crazy to think about that day in light of today. It has been a long 7 1/2 years since that day in September. There is probably no other day in the United States history that will define our past President, George W. Bush then that day and what followed after it. With that thought I had to think to myself, what will define our new President Obama? Maybe, the color of his skin, as our first black President? Maybe, the way he brought a country together in a time or economic crises? Maybe, it will be how he never lived up to the expectations? At this point in time we will never know.
Yet, as I sat, watched, and listened to the inauguration of our new President I could not hope but be filled with optimism and pride for our country. Those of you who know me well know that I am not what I would call a patriot, believing that I belong to a kingdom greater this one, yet I was proud. Not only did the people of this nation elect a black man, but I believe this nation took a step toward bettering itself. There is no doubt on my mind that as Rich Warren said, "Martin Luther King and all other saints" looked down on Washington D.C. and were proud of the people of our country today. It was amazing for me to watch and see, listen and hear the voices of a long time oppressed people rejoice with pride. But with this in mind let us not forget, there is still a great number or black, Latino/a, Asian, Middle Eastern, Native Americans, and women who will face oppression under a country still run by white males. Today, yes, we have taken a step in the right direction, but our fight against racism is not over.
At the same time let me ecko a wise elder black man I heard on NPR tonight, "Obama will mess up, after all he is not the Messiah." Amen, my brother. As members of another kingdom let us remember that Jesus Christ is our first and only Lord, not a nation or a President.
No matter what happens during these next four years, no matter how President Obama is remember let us remember this, we are childern of the most high God and we are first of all called to a kingdom of love. I end with the a part of the prayer from Joseph Lowery:

"And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate, on the side of inclusion, not exclusion, tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

Bless President Barack, First Lady Michelle. Look over our little angelic Sasha and Malia.

We go now to walk together, children, pledging that we won’t get weary in the difficult days ahead. We know you will not leave us alone, with your hands of power and your heart of love.

Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream. (from Amos 5:24)

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.

Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen."

May we see the kingdom of him who's name is our breath.

For another great blog on today's inaugration check out Garret's words

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My first Published Article

I have say that I am excited, today, January 6th, 2009, my first published article came out. The article is on Time Management is entitled "Time Flies Organizing Your Schedule for Optimum Results." You can find it at http://fulleryouthinstitute.org/2009/01/time-flies/. Let me know what you think!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Top CD's of 2008 and more...

A new year always makes me excited. As many of you know I am a lover of music, so the coming of a new year means tons of new music. Yet, a new year also means the closing of a year in music. This year in music was a little disappointing for me. Format, one of my favorite bands, announced that they were breaking up, Manchester Orchestra put off their new release, and there wasn't really the battle for the #1 spot I hoped for. Despite this, there were many CD's who did impress me, spoke to my soul, calmed my heart, and were over-all beautiful representations of an art form I love. In four short lists here are my top 20 of 2008, my top 20 songs of 2008, my top 10 most disappointing of 2008, and my most looked forward to in 2009.

Top 20 of 2008
1. Sigur Rós - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
- Sigur Rós does it again! One of their most approachable LP’s Nothing even came close to this album this year.
2. The Roots – Rising Down
- The Roots are the best Hip-Hop artists around. This album struggles through social issues as well as brings sweet beats and fun to the party.
3. TV on the Radio – Dear Science
- I was a little late in falling in love with this album, but once I did I could not stop listening to it. This band never ceases to amaze me.
4. Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
- My top new band of 2008 for sure. This album just brings the emotion and heart in such a raw yet simplistic way.
5. Fleeting Foxes – Self-Titled
- Alt-Folk at its top. The hype is true, one of the most critical acclaimed albums of the year, as it should be.
6. Dear and the Headligths – Drunk Like Bible Times
- I just love where they took their music after their 2007 release, Small Steps, Heavy Hooves, Ian’s lyrics and voice is just memorizing ever time.
7. Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
- Just a solid band. Moves in the realm of Acadia Fire, but at the same time brings something different to the table of indie rock.
8. Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue
- Jenny Lewis is one of my favorite artists, she is not only beautiful but produces beautifully raw music.
9. Anathallo – Canopy Glow
- Concept albums are always hit and miss for me, but this one was definitely a hit. Not only does this band make good art but it makes good Christian art, something that is hard to find now-a-days.
10. The Dodos – Visitor
- I have never heard an acoustic rock band that rocked so hard as this band does. They push the boundaries of acoustic rock into new places.
11. Dr. Dog – Fate
- In the realm of Alt-Folk, Fate was a real favorite of 2008. It only drifted down the line as 2008 went on because of the level of other albums. Solid album with great flow, mix, vocals. This is the best album this band has put out.
12. Vampire Weekend – Self-Titled
- I have learned that people either love or hate this band. I have gotten in many arguments trying to convince people how great this band and album is. One thing that all people can agree about is that they are unique and that there is no one doing what they are.
13. Kanye West – 808’s and Heartbreak
- Looks like heartbreak does breed great music, this album continues to blow me away as Kanye West pushs himself into a new places on this album. Simply put is good art.
14. Conor Oberst – Self-Titled
- In a Dylon-esk style Conor Oberst produces his first solo album with a new group of people around him. This album is not much of a denature from his band Bright Eyes, but some how Oberst’s friends from south of the boarder bring out something new and refreshing with him.
15. Annuals – Such Fun
- When I first heard this album I had not idea what to think of it. It was as if someone had given a top indie rock band a pop-rock speed infused shot during the recording process. After listening to it over and over again I just fell in love with this album’s pop-antics
16. Department of Eagles – In Ear Park
- I looked for this album forever and once I found it I quickly also found my new favorite study LP. Soon the LP found its way into my car and further into my daily life. I continue to be wowed by this album.
17. Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs
- This was one of those albums you fall in love with when you first purchase it but after awhile you only go back to it when the comfort of a good album for a good band is needed.
18. Broken Social Scene presents Bending Canning – Something for All of Us…
- Broken Social Scene is one of my favorite bands, this LP has its peaks and plains for me, but is still a solid effort from a great group of artists.
19. Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
- I did not really know what to expect from Copeland’s next album, sadly I wished they would have had a little more punch to this album, but this album still brings me peace and comfort in a way no other album or band can produce. Also a great group of Christian artists who are pushing the boundaries of art.
20. Bloc Party – Intimacy
- Bouncing back from one of the biggest let downs of 2007, Bloc Party brings it back with a great album. Sadly, the album starts to drag for me at the end so that is why it finds itself at the back end of my top 20

Top Ten Songs of 2008

1. Rising Down (Feat. Mos Def. and Styles P) – The Roots – Rising Down
2. Inní Mér Syngur Vitleysingur - Sigur Rós - Með Suð Í Eyrum Við Spilum Endalaust
3. The Next Messiah – Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongque
4. Dancing Choose – TV on the Radio - Dear Science
5. Joe's Waltz – The Dodos - Visiter
6. I Know – Dear And The Headlights – Drunk Like Bible Times
7. Ghost Under Rocks – Ra Ra Riot – The Rhumb Line
8. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
9. Not So Tough Found Out – Copeland – You Are My Sunshine
10. Swagga Like Us (Feat. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Lil Wayne) – T.I. – Paper Trail
11. Hair Don’t Grow – Annuals – Such Fun
12. Come All You Weary – Thrice – The Alchemy Index: Vol. $ Earth
13. Heartless – Kanye West – 808’s And Heartbreak
14. My Life (Feat. Lil Wayne) – The Game – LAX
15. Re: Stacks – Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago
16. Italo – Anathallo – Canopy Glow
17. The Ark – Dr. Dog – Fate
18. Mercury – Bloc Party – Intimacy
19. Antique Bull – Broken Social Scene presents Brendan Canning = Something for All of Us…
20. The Fox – Nada Surf – Lucky

Greatest Disappointments of 2008

1. Ben Folds – Way To Normal
- The only question that comes to my mind when I make myself listen to this album is, Why? I know this is Ben Folds’ album in response to his recent divorce, but it is just a bad, angry, and sad piece of music.
2. Common – Universal Mind Control
- I do not know if Pharrell’s handy work on this album influenced Common, but the more I hear about and from Pharrell, the more I realize that while he can process killer beats he never should have been given a voice. While this albums beats are good, the lyrics are so bad it makes me want to find Common and slap him in the face in order to try to wake him up from this nightmare of an album. Basically this album amounts to nothing more than bad club rap about sex and nothingness, as Common seems to be again struggling to find his MC identity. How you have fallen so far Common.
3. The Faint – Fasciinatiion
- No only is the spelling of this albums’ title bad, but so is everything else. The Faint just lost it on this one.
4. Tokyo Police Club – Elephant Shell
- I loved it when this album first came out but then when sitting and talking to a friend about it, he pointed out how bad vocals were. Now when I listen to it, all I hear is a bad singer over good music.
5. Panic At the Disco – Pretty. Odd.
- I have a great idea! Lets put out an album that sounds so much like the Beatles it puts every other copy-cat band to shame…oh, Panic At the Disco already did that…
6. She & Him – Volume One
- One would think that a Zooey Deschanel, who has a great voice, and M. Ward, a great musician, would produce a amazing album but sadly while this album is not bad it is not that good either. At times Deschanel's voice sounds sub-par and M. Ward's guitar work is just bland. There are others that would disagree with me, ie. Paste Magazine who rated this album as their #1 of 2008, so...
7. Thrice – The Alchemy Index: Vol. 3 & 4: Earth and Wind
- When Thrice set out to record what became known as The Alchemy Index I was a little fearful. It is true that Thrice is not the same band they were just 4 years ago, which is a good thing. The bad thing is that some how they mostly just became boring and inventive rock. There are only really 3 good songs on this two EP's equal one LP and one really good song, which yes did make it on my top 20 songs of 2008 list, but sadly that’s all this LP had to offer.
8. Augustana – Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
- I liked their last record, even thought it was nothing special, but I hoped they would grow but this one just became boring radio rock after a few listens.
9. Cold War Kids – Loyalty to Loyalty
- Over-all this is not a bad album, but the recording was just so poor it killed the album.
10. Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer
- I have never been a huge fan of Wolf Parade but I did enjoy their last LP and I really like Hansom Furs, the lead singers side project. Sadly this album, even though I tried really hard, I never got into it.

Most Looking forward to for 2009

- Manchester Orchestra
- mewithoutYou
- Bon Iver
- Fun
- Destry
- Brand New
- Kanye West
- Jay – Z
- Band of Horses
- Arcade Fire