Misterwives - "Reflections"

I'm testing the idea that listening to a song too much makes you eventually get sick of it. So far, I'm failing.

My daughter discovered Misterwives recently and said I might like them. As a snobby audiophile I clucked my tongue, listened with arms crossed, and then listened again and again and again. Now I'm almost dancing in my seat at my coworking office and avoiding eye contact.

Check out Misterwives - "Reflections." They have a newer album, but this song from a couple of years ago is my jam right now... 

Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone

Lykke Li has made a breakup album full of power ballads. And it's nothing short of amazing. I've liked Lykke's music in the past, but never really became a big fan. That's all changed because of her new album, I Never Learn,* and the standout song for me, "Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone." Here's the video, which is simple and remarkable. The lyrics are also posted below. If you go to this page you can listen to the song free and repeatedly while perusing the lyrics.

Listen to this song for what it is, and then also think about it in the context of how we love our neighbors. 

*Let me give you a hint. You can buy the album on CD for $0.50 cheaper than the download and still get the automatic download as you wait for the CD to show up. If that sounds like too much trouble, just download. I think you will love it.

Kristen Gilles - "Chase Away My Unbelief"

If you don't have time to listen now, please save this post somewhere and come back to it. This song may be a tremendous blessing to you or to someone in your family or church who is suffering. I encourage you to find time to really listen. I don't often find songs that hit me so deep and make me long to share it with others (especially those in pain). 

Parkers Mercy.jpg

I received the new album from Kristen Gilles in the mail and have listened to a little. Now I'm completely stuck on one song, "Chase Away My Unbelief." This is from the website of Kristen Gilles...

After our son Parker was stillborn, we cried out to God. Many of those cries came together in the form of this new song from our upcoming album Parker’s Mercy Brigade, “Chase Away My Unbelief.” This is a song for everyone who is broken by the thought of what might have been. A child who was never born. A child who was, but whose stay on earth was all too short. A broken home. A broken heart. A chilling medical diagnosis. A betrayal. Bankruptcy. Addiction. An inner conflict that causes you to say, “God, if you’re up there, if you’re powerful, and if you’re good, then why is everything so messed up?”

If you ever feel like God is far away, that he won’t answer you, let this song be your cry. If you ever feel like you’ve become a slave to your current circumstance, or that you have trouble seeing a larger perspective, let this song be your cry. If you ever hear about children starving and evil raging around the world, and your spirit groans, let this song be your cry.

Let me be honest: I don't cry easily. Partway through "Chase Away My Unbelief" I did begin to cry with the Gilles' over their loss and was provoked to cry out to God concerning the brokenness all around and in my own life and family and church. I think I have a lot more to cry over in my life that I have been avoiding. This song is helping me do so. What a beautiful lament for our time. Listen below and follow along with the lyrics. Hear more and pre-order Parker's Mercy Brigade at

"Chase Away My Unbelief" 

Lord, when I think You’re far away 
Returning silence for my prayer, 
When I’m reminded of old doubts 
That You still reign, or that You care, 
Teach me how to doubt no more, 
To know You’re found by those who seek, 
And my emotions can deceive; 
Chase away my unbelief. 

In the face of deepest loss, 
Blinded by my bitter tears, 
Broken by what might have been, 
A slave to things as they appear, 
Then whisper peace into my soul 
In midst of pain and piercing grief. 
My own perspective’s incomplete. 
Chase away my unbelief. 

When I suspect You’ve lost control 
Or You’ve forsaken what You made, 
When children starve both near and far 
And love has wilted under hate, 
Remind me of Your promises: 
A kingdom full of life and peace! 
Help me to trust eternity. 
Lord, chase away my unbelief. 

Cause my emotions can deceive ... 
My own perspective’s incomplete ... 
Help me to trust eternity, 
Lord, chase away my unbelief.

Pete Seeger Dead at 94


I've learned a little about Pete Seeger through some documentaries I've watched recently. His life included a lot of controversy and a lot of song. Regardless of your view of him, his music remains and his influence was and is wide. From the NYT...

Mr. Seeger was a prime mover in the folk revival that transformed popular music in the 1950s. As a member of the Weavers, he sang hits including Lead Belly’s “Goodnight, Irene” — which reached No. 1 — and “If I Had a Hammer,” which he wrote with the group’s Lee Hays. Another of Mr. Seeger’s songs, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” became an antiwar standard. And in 1965, the Byrds had a No. 1 hit with a folk-rock version of “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” Mr. Seeger’s setting of a passage from the Book of Ecclesiastes. (via NYT)

I can't help but see him as a cultural "worship leader" of sorts, as you can see with songs like "If I Had A Hammer" and "Michael Row the Boat Ashore." He believed that there is a power in song. You can find some of those songs in albums like If I Had A Hammer: Songs of Hope and Struggle.

As Christians it would be good for us to consider the power and possibility of creating songs a culture can sing beyond the church. Is there value in that? Is there anyone out there doing that? How can we foster artists who make a cultural impact? 

Best Albums of 2013

Music Blown Away

The first nine months this year were just ok for me, but some late year discoveries bridged the gap. I bought less albums this year. As always, I found some real gems. Some you know about. I hope a few that you don't. Music discovery through year end lists is a joy for me and I hope for you. For my favorite compilation of year end lists check out Metacritic.

I'll given a lot of thought to my top 20. The honorable mentions are many, and all worth checking out. Also check out Greg Thornbury's year end list. There are albums there I'm just getting to know.

Buying Through Amazon: Some albums are pretty cheap right now, so if it looks interesting click through to Amazon to check prices and listen to samples. Clicking through my links and buying music (or anything) helps me to buy books & music as my family has no budget for either. And it costs you nothing extra to use my links! Thanks for your support. 

Previous Years -- My Best Albums

2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 

Now, on to the good stuff from 2013...

2013 Honorable Mentions (no particular order): Danny BrownOldDeerhunterMonomania | Derek WebbI'm Was Wrong, I'm Sorry, and I Love You | DisclosureSettle | The Lone BellowThe Lone Bellow | Laura MarlingOnce I Was An Eagle | Kanye WestYeezus | Local NativesHummingbird | LowThe Invisible Way | Neko CaseThe Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You | PhantogramEyelid Movies | Pusha T: My Name Is My NameBoards of CanadaTomorrow's Harvest | The Avett Brothers: Magpie & the DandelionOkkervil RiverThe Silver Gymnasium | WoodkidThe Golden Age | Frightened Rabbit: Pedestrian VerseJustin Timberlake: The 20/20 Experience | Chance the Rapper: Acid Rap (free) | Kurt Vile: Wakin On A Pretty Daze

20. Burial: Rival Dealer EP | I'm cheating as I don't put EPs on my best albums of the year list, but Burial is always amazing and this is remarkable. Hear the culture speak to us.

19. FoxygenWe Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic | A lot of fun with throwback sounds and harmonies. Playful music but not childish. 

18. The NationalTrouble Will Find Me | These guys can do no wrong, but that can do better. A lot of the sound you love from The National, but it just doesn't have that handful of amazing. Still, it's really good. Oh, that all bands would miss like this.

17. PhosphorescentMuchacho | "Song for Zula." Nuff said.

16. JunipJunip | An early contender for a top list album, but the second half of the album just didn't hook me for long. Still, some great stuff here from Jose Gonzalez. "Line of Fire" is the bee's knees.

15. Chris ThileBach: Sonatas & Partitas | It's classical music with a mandolin. Love. I listen while working, reading, or doing nothing but listening. 

14. SavagesSilence Yourself | Grinding, growling, rocking, rolling, loud, aggressive without jumping in your face. In lots of ways, I think this is where punk music now resides.

13. Gregory Alan IsakovThe Weatherman | Gorgeous. Gentle & calming. Solid songwriting. 

12. Autre Ne VeutAnxiety | An emotional trip, but not without fun. The whole thing is good. Falsetto R&B, pop, electronic. Head bobbing will happen.

11. Forest SwordsEngravings | A sonic wonderland. Cinematic. Walking in slo-mo in your own movie scene. I can work to it, and I can just sit alone and let myself be swallowed up in the wonder.

Buke10. Buke & GaseGeneral Dome | Prolly not for everyone. But holy cow, one listen through "Hiccup" (though the video might make you sick) had me hooked. I agree with Exclaim, "The pair are making strummable instruments sound new again, and it sounds like redemption. Proceed frantically and without caution."

WaterLiars9. Water LiarsWyoming | It's similar to some music you may already love (Fleet Foxes, Pedro the Lion, Band of Horses). It feels lonely, and you will be thankful for it. One of the best lonely albums I've heard. I like what the New York Times says, "This duo’s dark, lonely, roots-minded indie rock is affecting, all the more for its sparseness." (HT: Kevin Cawley)

Sunbather8. DeafheavenSunbather | The best reviewed album on Metacritic. I think it's the first metal album I've listed in my years of doing this. I like what Crash Music said, "A record everyone with half an experimental ear should experience, even if they run from it, screaming."

Arcade7. Arcade FireReflektor | For all the Arcade Fire backlash on the one end and thoughtless love on the other, this is a great album. Building on where they came from and adding epic length dance songs, disco ball included. These songs swell and it's fun to get lost in them. But don't check your brain with the bouncer. The ideas here are thick.

MCII6. Mikal CroninMCII | Throwback pop music that is ridiculously current and joyful. This has set a lot of my mood this year with playful melodies occasionally over some power chords. It's a sock-hop with growl. The appeal of the music is immediate as well as lasting. I keep coming back to it.

Immunity5. Jon HopkinsImmunity | One album I'd love to make everyone sit and listen to. It's a sonic masterpiece. It's an album trying hard to push toward the top. Remember when I picked Four Tet for album of the year a few years ago? It's in that realm of awesome. Could have been my album of the year.

Isbell4. Jason IsbellSoutheastern | Packed with great songwriting. Heartfelt and genuine. This sounds like home, a safe place to admit you are a mess. The Independent: "brilliant: vivid, multi-faceted tales of souls adrift." Could have been my album of the year.

Arctic3. Arctic MonkeysAM | Don't miss "No. 1 Party Anthem." For an album that really rocks out, that song is a great change of pace and just amazing. If you like The Black Keys, you will dig this album. If you like just cranking it up, yeah, that's a reason to get it. Could have been my album of the year.

Chvrches2. Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe | Most played album of the year in my house. Hook-filled fun. Head-bobbing, foot tapping, energy-rich. And yet the songwriting is solid. It's not just fun, it's serious music. My discovery of the year. Could easily be my album of the year.

Vampire1. Vampire WeekendModern Vampires of the City | Breaking from the sound that made them great, this is their *beyond category* album. Some of the most creative, earworm music of the year with some of the best thought through lyrics of the year. Catchy but not at all cutesy. Massive, complex hooks. The most thought-provoking album of 2013.

Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe


It's been a year of a few great albums, but not enough. Good news: I'm absolutely gripped by the new (debut) album by Chvrches: The Bones of What You Believe. This is a Scottish electro-pop band around the M83 soundscape, but with a lot more dance beats. This music soars and it is almost continually fun and riveting. But it's anything but lightweight and the deeper you dive in the more you respect the richness of the music. These lyrics are dense. AV says, "Chvrches’ bread and butter remains highly melodic, synthesizer-based pop, but with just the right amount of darkness, thanks in part to [Lauren] Mayberry. She has a law degree and a masters in journalism, so she writes like she has something to say, not just to fill the space in the songs." I've been thinking about the opening track, "The Mother We Share," (colorful word in this song) for days now, listening to it over and over. This is thought-provoking fun and one of my favorite musical journeys of the year. The delicate vocals of Mayberry are just perfect. I've stopped what I've been doing to listen closely to the lyrics and I've been able to focus on work and just enjoy the music in the background. A rare album indeed.

Disclaimer: There are a couple of colorful words on the album. 

Noteworthy Reviews...

Metacritic: 82/100 | AV Club 100/100 |  Pitchfork 8.5/10 (Best New Music)


Amazon MP3 Birthday Sale: $6 Albums

It's good when Amazon celebrates something, because they give us something to celebrate too. A BUNCH of great albums are just $6. Grab a couple...

Giveaway: Restoration Project


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 downloadRestoration 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: <--

2. Comment below so I know you did step one. And for fun share your favorite Sunday School hymn.

I'll use to choose five winners at the end of the week. May the odds be ever in your favor!

Chris Thile | Bach: Sonatas & Partitas Vol 1


Yes, that Chris Thile from Punch Brothers and Nickel Creek and The Goat Rodeo Sessions. He has taken his mandolin and produced something classical with Bach: Sonatas and Partitas Volume 1. It's straightforward Bach, but it's not simple. It's elegant and beautiful and at times you'd swear you hear his fingers catch fire. 

Paste gives Bach it 8.9/10. Music OMH says, "Thile now must be considered ... one of the contemporary masters of the mandolin, exercising his powers across multiple genres."

PBS gives us 6 1/2 minutes of music and conversation that takes an artist I love and puts him a cut above the rest. If this clip doesn't demand that we stop and listen, I'm not sure what will...