Today is the beginning of April, National Poetry Month. As a lover of poetry and a poet, I've launched a poetry project with Joe Holland called Dry Bones Poetry. It's a free PDF with original poetry by the two of us and some other friends. Please enjoy, share with others, and let us know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It's -40F wind chill here, which means you light up the fireplace and listen to Bon Iver. One of my favorite EVER albums, For Emma Forever Ago, is $5.
If you haven't checked it out yet, my Best Albums of 2013 list is up. Would love your thoughts. What music from last year did you enjoy?
Damien Jurado: Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son - My love for this dude's music has grown the last few years. Excited for this one. I'm only five songs in and I'm very, very happy so far.
- Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe
- Jason Isbell: Southeastern
- Arcade Fire: Reflektor ($3.99)
- Phosphorescent: Muchacho
- Buke & Gase: General Dome
- The Lone Bellow: The Lone Bellow
- The Knife: Shaking the Habitual
- Foxygen: We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic
- Mikal Cronin: MCII
- Junip: Junip
Other cheap albums worth checking out...
Sleeping at Last is one of those unique bands that owns its own sound. They have a compelling, emotionally engaging style that I love. Their melodies and vocals soar. They have brought their style and given us a wonderful Christmas collection. And you can get it free or for donation.
This album offers a great mix. Christmas hymns like "Silent Night," "What Child Is This?," and O Holy Night" are gorgeous. Crank it up on "O Holy Night" for one listen and I'm sure you will, like me, add it to your yearly must-listen songs. I love their versions of cultural Christmas songs like "White Christmas," "Silver Bells," and "I'll Be Home For Christmas." One of my favorite funny Christmas songs is by Bill Nighy in Love, Actually, "Christmas Is All Around." I don't know of anyone that covers it as it's meant to be funny and not a real Christmas song. Sleeping at Last covers it as a cute, folksy little ditty. It's legit.
I'm thankful for other Christmas albums out this year: Folk Angel, Page CXVI, etc. These are worth checking out as well. This one by Sleeping at Last, at donation price, is a gem. Please check it out.
I'm currently preaching a series of sermons using great, old hymns as the illustration for my exposition of a passage of Scripture. So when I see something like Restoration Project's Kickstarter campaign, I want to help. From their campaign...
We're a songwriting and recording collective dedicated to writing new hymns and restoring old, taking old hymn texts and poems and writing new music and melodies for them.
With your help, we can create our next, very special album series together! Remember: Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing funding platform (we need to reach our goal).
The "Firm Foundation" series will be a two-album collection of Sunday School hymns with new arrangements and lyrics. Our fresh approach to these songs will give them greater theological depth and clarity and a modern musical feel. Great care is also being taken to preserve most of the original melodies.
I've been listening to their other albums and I really dig them. This is a project worth supporting. In order to help them get the word out on this Kickstarter campaign, I'm giving away 5 sets of their two albums for download: Restoration Project and Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope. Even if you don't want the albums, please consider sharing the link that their project might get fully supported.
And please, consider giving. Become a backer.
Here's how you can win these two albums...
1. Post to Twitter, Facebook, etc this without the arrows --> Restoration Project is remaking hymns. Get their 2 albums FREE. RT & comment here to enter: http://bit.ly/resproj <--
2. Comment below so I know you did step one. And for fun share your favorite Sunday School hymn.
I'll use random.org to choose five winners at the end of the week. May the odds be ever in your favor!
New album from Okkervil River, The Silver Gymnasium (Amazon, out 9/3), is streaming free right now. This is one of my favorite bands working. Some of the best songwriting around from frontman Will Sheff. I'm halfway through the stream right now and it's really good so far.
Get a taste of the new album from Sheff's open mic night. Or just listen here to open track, "It Was My Season"...
- The Preservation Hall Band: That's It! ($6.99)
- Gavin DeGraw: Chariot ($2.99)
- The Decemberists: The Crane Wife ($5)
- Radiohead: Amnesiac ($5)
- Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit: Here We Rest & Live From Alabama ($4.99 each)
Iron & Wine: Ghost on Ghost | Whoa. A whole different sound. Interested in your feedback.
The Flaming Lips: The Terror | "Sounding almost post-apocalyptic in its scabrous, searching bleakness — Coyne himself describes the album as "disturbing"..." Yikes.
The Shouting Matches: Grownass Man | Includes Justin Vernon of Bon Iver playing mostly falsetto-less blues-rock. I hear Wilco, Black Keys, & other flavors here. This isn't your hipsters' Justin Vernon. And it may be impossible for this to have been recorded in a rural cabin. Check it out.
The Knife: Shaking the Habitual | One of my favorite, creepy, beat-centric bands. Get ready for quirk.
In 20 years, Low's basic ingredients haven't changed much: Guitarist Alan Sparhawk and drummer Mimi Parker swap and sometimes layer their vocals, with a third member joining the married couple on bass. The pace, for the most part, is kept deliberate, even glacial, with strategically deployed silence hanging between notes in order to enhance their power. Low songs don't often change tempo noticeably, instead achieving tension through variations in volume.
But that seemingly limited framework still provides ample room for experimentation: Low can be a sweetly chiming pop band, or it can seethe and unsettle with an almost industrial buzz. It can express emotion by drawing out the barest fragment of a phrase, or it can expound thoughtfully on life, death, secrecy, war and the way humanity collides with itself.
Low's 10th full-length studio album, The Invisible Way, was produced by Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, who avoids any temptation to radically stretch the Minnesota band's boundaries. But he wisely dials up the interplay between Sparhawk and Parker — who's too often underutilized on Low records — while letting bits of piano and spare percussive rumbles provide the portent. "So Blue" and "Just Make It Stop" give The Invisible Way a bit of a jolt by laying Parker's vocals atop unusually jumpy arrangements, but most of these songs land squarely in that sweet spot where darkness and worry are swathed in pristine beauty.
My favorite song off of the Gray Havens' album, Where Eyes Don't Go, is "Where It Goes." I've seen others mention "Silver" as their fave. It's great & I love it too. Soaring moments & tons of imagery. But "Where It Goes" may be the best opening track on an album I've heard in a long time. It sets the scene, opens the conversation, leads you gently to the melody we are all meant to know. Listen & dig into the lyrics below. I've italicized the first bit because it's so good.
A song ran in the oceans of color,
surrounded by the stars inside the universe,
before it bursted into light,
And after a long time,
A world came alive and played that music I first heard,
And so I stayed so I could write down every word,
And there was a garden,
Never was such beauty seen in all the earth,
And not again until the day when it returns,
And there was a loud cry,
Alive were the voices as they sang the words,
And ever since they've been singing, It goes,
Underneath where eyes don't go,
A sound that keeps the beat that holds,
Alive the song I listen close,
Do I follow, Do I follow, Where it goes,
Towers and banners raised,
And kings with power changed that song that first began,
And it was lost, and buried deep, and covered,
Then, a chorus and angel lights,
Proclaimed on that starry night that shook the world,
A king arose, and he was singing, it goes,
Underneath where eyes don't go,
A sound that keeps the beat that holds,
alive the song I listen close,
Do I follow, Do I follow, Where it goes,
- Buke & Gase: General Dome | Their previous album, Riposte, was great. A few songs in and I'm enjoying this one a lot. (Out a week from Tuesday)
- Blaudzun: Heavy Flowers | Just stumbled upon this one, and it's worth checking out. "The album fits in nicely amid the ambitious and occasionally orchestral folk-rock..." It's a very interesting sound, and it's not unapproachable. I'd love to hear my readers' take on this one. (Out a week from Tuesday)
- Ra Ra Riot: Beta Love | Really exicted to see if they capture what I loved about The Rhumb Line (Out Tuesday)
- Darkstar: News From Nowhere | Yeah, I dunno much. But NPR says, "News From Nowhere offers a brighter take on synth-driven pop. Its pace is more rapid, its chords more buoyant. There's still an eerie quality to Darkstar's music: Ghostly chords waver in and out of tune, while reverb haunts many of the timbres here." Yeah, ok. I'll try that.
If you haven't heard new stuff from The Lone Bellow, I can't recommend it enough. Three videos of high-quality live versions of their songs and you will be sold. Their album, The Lone Bellow, is out tomorrow on Amazon. I'll be picking it up!
- Dropkick Murphys: Sign & Sealed In | Pub anthems
- Pantha Du Prince & The Bell Laboratory: Elements of Light | If you have a set of church handbells and think they are lame, they don't have to be. Give it 8 minutes & you'll be surprised, 10 minutes and you'll be hooked, 12 minutes and fuggedaboutit.
- The Lone Bellow: The Lone Bellow | If Mumford & Sons had a child with The Civil Wars.
- Broadcast: Berberian Sound Studio | A sonic feast.
$5 Albums for January | There are 2,000. Yeah. I'm not going to list them all, not even the great ones because there are SO MANY. You can check the ones on my Best Albums of 2012 list as several are on sale, including my #1 & #3.
And don't forget to check out my 35 Best Albums of 2012 along with a number of honorable mentions.
Happy Music Monday! One of my favorite albums right now, good for headphones and work, or great for cranking it up in our house, is Daphni: Jiaolong. It's from the same dude who makes music as Caribou. At the release party for Jiaolong he played a 7 1/2 hour DJ mix, all embedded here and downloadable.
- Titus Andronicus: Local Business
- Bat for Lashes: The Haunted Man
- Civil Twilight: Holy Weather Remix EP
- Patrick Wolf: Sunlight & Riverdark
WORTH CHECKING OUT - FREE
- Redeemer Kansas City: Spirit of the Psalms
- Tame Impala: Lonerism
- Stephen Miller: Hymns
- Dum Dum Girls: End of Daze
- Gungor: A Creation Liturgy Life
"Baby It's Cold Outside" by Sharon Van Etten & Rufus Wainwright - Like this a lot. Though listening to Chrismas music in October is crazy, it's worth checking out. Sounds like the whole album is worth checking out, Holidays Rule, which is due out at the end of October. Artists on the album include The Civil Wars, Andrew Bird, Punch Brothers and more. Listen...
- Freelance Whales: Diluvia
- Bad Books: II
- REWORK_Philip Glass Remixed (Interesting)
- Tame Impala: Lonerism (dude...trippy)
CHEAP ($2.99 - $5)
- $5 October Albums
- Radiohead: Kid A
- Ryan Adams: Gold
- The 99 Darkest Pieces of Classical Music
- M83: Saturdays = Youth
- Jay-Z: American Gangster
- Steve Earle: Copperhead Road
- Dum Dum Girls: End of Dayz
- John Coltrane: A Love Supreme
- O Brother, Where Art Thou?
- The Beastie Boys: Licensed To Ill
- Guns 'N Roses: Use Your Illusion I
- Neko Case: Blacklisted
- The Roots: Illadelph Halflife
- Luciano Pavarotti: 75th Anniversary
UPDATE: Winners listed in the comments as...
In Center Church, Timothy Keller offers challenging insights and provocative questions based on over twenty years of ministry in New York City. This book outlines a theological vision for ministry—based on classic doctrines but rethinking our assumptions about church for our time and place—organized around three core commitments:
Gospel-centered: The gospel of grace in Jesus Christ changes everything, from our hearts to our community to the world. It completely reshapes the content, tone and strategy of all that we do.
City-centered: Cities increasingly influence our global culture and affect the way we do ministry. With a positive approach toward our culture, we learn to affirm that cities are wonderful, strategic and underserved places for gospel ministry.
Movement-centered: Instead of building our own tribe, we seek the prosperity and peace of our community as we are led by the Holy Spirit.
I'm telling you, if you haven't seen this book it is a sight to see. Big and packed! It will be a staple in seminaries and church planting training programs. "Awesome" is the word for it. Great for reading through or at least having for refererence.
I asked the good folks at Zondervan several weeks ago if they could provide some giveaway copies of Center Church because I want readers of my Tim Keller Resources page to have a chance to win one. They gave me three! Thanks Zondervan!
Here's how you enter for your chance to win. Simple.
1. Tweet (or post to Facebook if you aren't on Twitter, or do both!) without the quote marks: " Want a free copy of Tim Keller's Center Church? RT this & comment at Reformissionary to enter: http://bit.ly/TKbook "
2. Comment below (so I can confirm you did step 1) with your real name and real email (kept private) and For Fun guess the number of writing utensils on my desk right now (pens, pencils, markers, etc. Hint: I have two coffee mugs for writing utensils plus more than that. It's more than 1 and less than 100.
*I'll use random.org to pick the 3 winners sometime after 5pm. I'll announce the winners on the blog & send out emails. May the odds be ever in your favor!