Thursday, August 21, 2008

It's the little things

I never realized how much I talk to myself and sing in the car until my voice started going out last night. Now I have to force myself not to use it when it isn't necessary. It is mildly annoying to say the least.

On the off chance my voice comes back in the next 24 hours I'm going to try and revive my podcasts this weekend, although as with everything the best laid plans . . .

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music Reviews

I was originally going to do two bullet reviews, two weeks ago. Since I've been derelict in my duties, I'm going to add a bonus review. Strap yourself in, here we go.

Samantha Crain - "The Confiscation EP"

Imagine Feist or Yael Naim singing the songs of Neko Case and you'll have a pretty good approximation of the sound for this album. If that description puts you off, don't let it. Give this EP a chance to grow on you and you'll see an up and coming star in the making. A native of Oklahoma this first release shows a maturity well beyond her years. The folk songstress blends age old guitar and rhythm with strong and inventive lyrics. Plus her sounds fits right in with her label mates:

The Avett Brothers - "The Second Gleam"

There is much to be said about the Avett Brothers, but I covered most of it here. This is not necesarily the Avett Brothers album to start out with. "The Second Gleam" follows in the footsteps of "The Gleam" with ballads taking the lead. The first single, "Murder in the City," sets the tone with the lines like "If I get murdered in the city, don't go revenging in my name." The song continues exploring the meaning of life, death, relationships, and what is truly important. The whole EP tackles these themes in a laid back folk/acoustic manner. The Avetts prove that sometimes it is better to leave the rowdy at home and take time to ponder and savor life in all of its glory.

Jars of Clay - "Closer(EP)"

Jars of Clay are back and if this EP is any indication of what is to come, I can't wait for the full album. "Closer" starts off with a pop rock sound that wouldn't sound out of place on the "Good Monsters" album. The ballad "Safe to Land" follows. Its a good song, but it really doesn't break any new ground. After that are two re-recordings "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" and "Flood(New Rain)." I'm already a fan of both songs and "Love Song for a Saviour(2008)" manages to capture the beauty of the original with a slightly updated feel. However "Flood(New Rain)" did not work for me. The original version was a breakout hit for Jars and the addition of some vocals and a guitar track just doesn't feel quite right this time around. The EP ends with another ballad "Prisoner of Hope." Again it is a fairly standard sound, but lyrically it captures an unexplainable feeling that makes the song stand out. Jars of Clay have started releasing on their own label, presumably so they can make music on their own terms. After hearing this EP I can't wait to hear what they do next.

Monday, August 04, 2008

From Cracked to Cracking up

I'm losing focus and I don't like it. I'm prone to wandering at best and downright attention deficit on my bad days. Outside of the music reviews I haven't done much in the way of writing lately. I know that if I'm going to be a writer I have to discipline myself to write on a regular basis, but like many things I don't feel like I have any follow through.

In an attempt to get some money saved and some debt paid off I'm combing through books and CDs to sell. I have a bookcase full of computer books that at one time were intended to help further my career. The problem is that I have no focus. There are books for network certifications, security studies, programming, graphics design, and web design. I hated programming when I graduated with my degree. I knew I was going into network administration. I took a few of the Microsoft tests, but never followed through. In the late 90's I knew computer security would be the next big thing so I started buying books on it. My prognostication proved to be true, but less than helpful since I never actually applied myself to the study.

Now I'm looking at web design. I'm trying very hard to take the advice of one of my friends and focus on only a few key programming methods. I get distracted though. I surf the web too much, I listen to music too much, I spend more time doing nothing and avoiding real work than I do actual study.

I like where I am in my life for the most part. I like the job I do, but I'm also afraid of what will happen when it eventually runs out.

Everyday I hear God telling me to let go. Let go of the job. Let go of the stuff. Let go of my life. Let go of my plans. I want to let go and fall into His plan and lean on His strength. I want to believe that when the chips are down I will have a stronger faith than what I feel I have now.

There is a whole school of thought regarding 'delayed adolescence' in young men today. Men in their twenties are staying at home with the parents, not worrying about studying or getting jobs, just concentrating on having fun. It isn't anything I really had to deal with. I lived with my parents through the first part of college and moved out when I was 22. With the exception of six months after a nasty eviction, I haven't lived with my parents since. I worked through college, got my degree in Computer Information Systems, and had a job at a computer support contracting firm one month after graduating. For the longest time I thought I had it all together.

This year I've learned a lot about myself, my faith, my relationship with my wife, and my lack of maturity. I'm praying for maturity and wisdom. I'm praying for change in my life.

So now I'm a music review and psychological sounding board. It must be a blog.