New Here?
     
Music

A Conspiracy of Hope and Light: Reviewing U2's Songs of Experience

A Conspiracy of Hope and Light: Reviewing U2’s Songs of Experience

I don’t think I’ve ever read a review of a U2 record that isn’t preceded by a lengthy prologue wrestling with the band’s stature, either in the culture at large or the reviewer’s upbringing or both. They’re the kind of band that provokes not just adulation and irritation but qualification, even from their most ardent fans. I guess when you court importance–and the record release as Event–as Bono and co have done so doggedly these past 30-ish years, you’re kind of setting yourself up for it. Whatever the case, people have baggage when it comes to U2.

Earlier this year David…

Read More > > >

When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

When Whitney Houston Writes Your Prayers

It’s that time of year again! Oh, you thought I was talking about the holidays? Nope, I’m referring to the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, known as Engagement Season: the month and a half where your social media feeds seem to consist solely of diamond rings and “YES!!!! I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend!!!! #helpweneedaweddinghashtag.”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love engagements and weddings, maybe a little too much. I will stop whatever I’m doing to scroll through engagement photos or watch a wedding video, and I’ve been planning my own imaginary…

Read More > > >

Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Music, Truth, and David Zahl’s A Mess of Help: From the Crucified Soul of Rock N’ Roll

Last week I was revising an essay that’s in my thesis for my MFA in creative writing. It’s about music and memory, and I write about how music roots us to past, present, and future versions of ourselves. While I was revising that piece, my soon-to-be-15-year-old daughter asked me to review one of her essays. It was also about music and memory. It was about other things, too (essays are usually about other things besides the obvious things), but it was a sort of exploration of different seasons of her life and music was the vehicle that carried me through…

Read More > > >

December Playlist: Happy Birthday Baby Jesus 2017

Bringing out the Christmas trappings early actually felt like a necessity this year. Hope you dig the mix.

You can find my other mixes on http://hbbj.holiday/ Enjoy!

Bad at Love

Bad at Love

This one was written by Anna Nott.

I am convinced that I, perhaps along with a good portion of the rest of the world, continue to listen to Halsey’s hit “Bad at Love” for more than just the fact that it’s super catchy. The lyrics are profoundly confessional, stating:

I believe, I believe, I believe, I believe
that we’re meant to be.
But jealousy, jealousy, jealousy, jealousy
Gets the best of me.
Look, I don’t mean to frustrate, but I
Always make the same mistakes, yeah I
Always make the same mistakes ’cause
I’m bad at love!

When she sings, “I believe that we’re meant to be, but jealousy gets…

Read More > > >

Recommended Music: "Songs for Christmas Time" by Lowland Hum

Recommended Music: “Songs for Christmas Time” by Lowland Hum

Last Christmas my wife and I had a revelation that it seems everyone has, sooner or later. We actually started listening to Christmas music. “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire?!” We’re millennials. We barely know how to start a fire, much less roast chestnuts on an open one. Forget keeping Christ in Christmas; it sometimes seems like Christmas isn’t even in Christmas. And yet here I am this year, eagerly watching as city workers string up cedar garlands downtown, checking my weather app for LED snowflakes, caught up in the internal tug-of-war that this season always brings: the longing for,…

Read More > > >

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

Every Tear That Falls Must Converge: A Review of The Dusk In Us

After five long years, hardcore legends Converge are back. Their first album since 2012’s All We Love We Leave Behind, The Dusk In Us is an aptly titled exploration of the hurts and promises latent within a world receding from the light. And while Converge have matured with this album, that maturation in no way implies a mellowing of their characteristically caustic delivery. Scabrous, frenetic bombardments of metallic guitars and hyperkinetic drums support Jacob Bannon’s gargling-with-broken-glass vocals in ways both more damning and more life-affirming than ever. For no other band in this vale of tears better encapsulates the law/gospel…

Read More > > >

Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan's Gospel Years

Waiting At the Altar (No Longer!): Bob Dylan’s Gospel Years

As promised, a review of the long-awaited Trouble No More boxed set documenting Bob Dylan’s gospel years, courtesy of resident Dylanologist Ken Wilson, who’ll be seeing his 55th (!) show on Friday.

In a career full of surprises, the most amazing is still the “born again” period. Sure Bob Dylan had shocked his folkie fans, and enraged Peter Seeger (or so the legend goes), by going electric, i.e. commercial, at Newport. Sure, he’d retreated from public view and been rumored dead in the wake of a serious motorcycle accident, rhymed “moon and spoon” and crooned with Johnny Cash, and toured…

Read More > > >

November Playlist

Not easy to find tracks that fit the quincentennial theme…

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

The Art of Memoir and a Divine Glimpse of Stefani in Gaga: Five Foot Two

I spent the better part of my 20s working with teenagers in one form or another. Whether as a youth minister, a creative writing teacher, or a photography TA, one dazzling thread remained the same: Gaga. I spent time with kids who didn’t just adore her music, they worshiped her. They felt freed in some way by who she allowed them to be; she allowed them to be themselves (or whatever version of themselves they wanted to be) in all their average weirdness. In Gaga: Five Foot Two (a documentary released last month on Netflix), one of Lady Gaga’s fans…

Read More > > >

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

Hopelessly Devoted: Matthew Twenty-One Verses Thirty-Three Through Forty-Two

The following sermon was preached yesterday by our friend Dave Johnson at Christ Church in Valdosta, GA.

In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

You are in fifth grade and whenever you are hanging out in your bedroom your radio is tuned into the local Top 40 hit station.  It is a beautiful spring evening and your window is open, an occasional cool breeze enters your room with the scent of freshly mown grass and that sense of hope that accompanies spring reawakens in your heart.  A song comes on the radio that immediately grabs your attention, immediately resonates with…

Read More > > >

Gospel Moshing: Adventures at Metal Shows with a Spooky Friend

Gospel Moshing: Adventures at Metal Shows with a Spooky Friend

Maybe we, why don’t we
Sit right here for half an hour?
We’ll speak of what a waste I am
And how we missed your beat again

I swear we need to find some comfort in this run down place
To bridge the gap of this conscious state that we live in
And I’m short on time

– “Writing on the Walls,” Underoath

Nearly all of my best memories from college center on my close-yet-mysterious best friend named Tyler, who became mythical in our friend group because of his penchant for mischief and his unerring tendency to seek out and bask in all of the absurd things of…

Read More > > >