Music

A Snob By Any Other Name

A Snob By Any Other Name

The first time I suspected there might really be something between me and the woman who would become my wife was when she made an off-hand reference to one of my favorite movies. It was a relatively obscure film, and not one that usually came up in conversation. Huh, I thought, that’s interesting. My confidence was shaken a few days later when she mentioned having recently attended a certain music festival, which will remain nameless. Let’s just say my appreciation for The Grateful Dead and their ilk had yet to blossom.

I’m embarrassed to admit this. Not just that I had…

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A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

A Conference Week Ends: Lila, Marshmallows, the Human Condition, and Epistomological Courage

1. Lots of interesting news on the how-can-we-be-sure-God-exists front. We’ve had our own part of that conversation, highlighting our own favorite Atheists and the hip trend of flogging Dawkins (dibs on Flogging Dawkins as a band name!). If the patterns are to be believed, it seems that the trajectory is toward a more humble, less aggressive atheism that acknowledges its own non-rational presuppositions. And humility is good for everybody, theist and atheist alike. Gary Gutting over at the New York Times sums up his series of interviews with religious philosophers, and while the ending seems disjointed (I’m an agnostic Catholic?), the middle is helpful:

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Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Another Week Ends: Startup Cities, Dangerous Perfectionism, Marilynne Robinson, Self-Satisfied Commissars, Subconscious Songwriting, and Cosmopolitan Hope

Before we get going, the Houston Conference is almost here!! While we never turn anyone away–last minute walk-ins more than welcome–we need to know by Monday morning (10/13) if you are planning/hoping to dine with us. You can either pre-register on the site (through Tuesday at midnight), or send us an email at info@mbird.com so we can reserve you a plate. The food is going to be delicious!

1. First off, this is both incredibly fascinating and incredibly sad. Perhaps you’ve heard of The Downtown Project, a “start-up city” in Las Vegas founded and pioneered by Tony Hsieh, the guy behind…

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Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Love and Logos in the Dying of the Light

Reviewing Sons of Bill’s new record.

A couple of years ago, The New Yorker asked “Whatever happened to movies for grownups?” It’s an important question, and one that has only become more pronounced since David Denby posed it, and not just at the multiplex. In fact, nowhere does it apply more than to the carcass that passes for commercial rock and roll these days. There may have been a time when literacy and restraint didn’t automatically throw you into a niche market, but that time seems to have gone, for better or worse. Which isn’t to say there’s anything wrong…

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Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

Drifting Closer in the Dark: An Introduction to the Musical Folklore of Slaid Cleaves

We could not be more excited to have Slaid Cleaves join us for the Houston Conference next week. It’s just one of the reasons we hope you’ll meet us there.

There’s plenty of eye-rolling when it comes to American country and folk music, mainly because so much of what used to constitute its storytelling now seems untrue. Songs about rust and horses and top hands and tree yodelers—this used to be far-reaching content; it has since shrunken into American oblivion, re-visited mainly in nichey beer bars by minor players. For anyone other than the Americana devotees, country songs consist, at best, of naïve nostalgia about “simpler times”, and at worst, of abject denial about who we are. And perhaps it is true.

October Playlist

  1. 1995-texas-mockingbird-and-bluebonnet

    T-minus two weeks and counting!

    I’ll Have To Dance With Cassie – God Help the Girl

  2. Everything’s Tuesday – General Johnson and the Chairmen of the Board
  3. The Bitterest Pill (I Ever Had to Swallow) – The Jam
  4. Nuclear Boy – 2020
  5. Can I Borrow a Kiss? – The Knack
  6. No Substitute – The Shivvers
  7. So Long – ABBA
  8. Niemals Einer Meinung – Die Toten Hosen
  9. That’s How People Grow Up – Morrissey
  10. Lady With the Spinning Head – U2
  11. Glorious – Andreas Johnson
  12. Not a Second More – The Lees of Memory
  13. Elevate Me Later – Pavement
  14. The Creature from the Black Lagoon – Dave Edmunds
  15. Drinkin Days – Slaid Cleaves
  16. Cold Hands – Carl Anderson
  17. Why Go Alone – Chris Von Sneidern
  18. Dancing in the Dark – John Legend


Aphex Twin’s Syro and the Joy of Forgetting (and Remembering)

Aphex Twin’s Syro and the Joy of Forgetting (and Remembering)

Enigmatic and revered electronic artist Aphex Twin (real name Richard D. James) released his long awaited new album, Syro, last week, ending a 13-year hiatus that followed his previous album, Drukqs. The new album is–in true Aphex Twin form–a colossally dense and impeccably composed piece of electronic music that morphs, warps, and toils considerably for its 65 minute run time. This tends to make for a somewhat unsettling listen in places (given the harsh and, in some cases, terrifying sounds he exuded during much of his 90s output, it’s not unexpected). As soon as you get your footing on a…

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Lucinda Williams Needs Protection (Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone)

Excuse the Americana interruption, but with a new double album out (next week), amazingly titled Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, Lucinda Williams seems to be singing from the basement, looking up. And so we need to listen! The twenty-track album from the famed songwriter is streamable on NPR right now, and is worth the listen, regardless of whether or not you find her Louisiana gruff too gruff. The album opens with the title track, which is actually called “Compassion,” a poem her poet-mentor-father wrote: “Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it / What…

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Another Week Ends: American Immortals, Henry James, U2charists, Authentic Nerdists, AWK Prays, and Reclusive Deities

Another Week Ends: American Immortals, Henry James, U2charists, Authentic Nerdists, AWK Prays, and Reclusive Deities

1. Part and parcel of the juvenilization we touched on earlier this week is the phenomenon UPenn bioethicist Ezekiel Emanuel (best name ever?!) describes as “the American immortal”, that not-so-peculiar species that devotes so much of its time/energy to prolonging life that it kills them (often before they die). Surprise surprise–underneath the aversion to growing up may lurk a denial of human limitation which is ultimately a denial of death. In the latest bit of watercooler bait from The Atlantic, “Why I Hope To Die at 75″, Emanuel challenges the notion of “compression of morbidity”, the widespread presumption that the…

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Song for the Victims of our Modern Day Gladiators

Song for the Victims of our Modern Day Gladiators

Are you not entertained? All signs point to “No, I’m not entertained”, per David Puddy and the cheesy 8-ball jacket (thank you, Seinfeld fans). Rather, we’re disgusted.  I’ve read it in comments here. I’ve seen it on Facebook and Twitter – we’re fed up. I get it, really, I do. It’s an awful thing. However, I have to admit my two (polarized) reactions to all of this.

On one hand, I really don’t want to write about this crap two weeks in a row. This week though, we have four more (count them, four – Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer,…

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#Blessed in the Storm

#Blessed in the Storm

It may be the most ubiquitous hashtag on the internet. We use it on every platform. And, of course, it totally transcends every category. Everyone from the 16 year old with a new Lexus SUV to the wife telling the world about her 40th wedding anniversary is #blessed. Of course, for those of us who drove an old pick up truck in high school or who’s first marriage lasted just two years, #blessed cannot mean anything good. We have somehow failed. Our lives have not measured up.

Certainly there are underlying theological implications. We may worry that other people are #blessed…

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God Helped The Girl

God Helped The Girl

I guess it’s impossible to write about God Help the Girl, the new musical film written and directed by Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, without weighing in on the larger aesthetic it embodies, what some have even called a movement: Twee. But I’m going to try, as we’ve tread that ground a number of times already. Suffice it to say, if ice cream cones (with pirouette cookies), Left Banke singles, and coonskin caps turn your stomach, you probably won’t be able to get beyond the window-dressing on this one. As the opening line of The Vulture review put it,…

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