A Trip Through My iTunes Library

I’m not really sure at what point my iTunes library became the memoirs of my life.  For as far back as I can remember I’ve loved music, and specifically collecting music.  It all began when my parents bought me a CD player when I was in fifth grade, along with my first CD (Billy Joel’s Storm Front).  As I grew older my musical tastes changed, as did the common media for music.  I went from tapes, to CDs, to burning my own mixtapes via my dad’s CD burner, and finally digital media.  By that point my collection exploded and I was hopelessly hooked to collecting music.

Each album in my iTunes library tells a story.  Whether it be a CD found while scouring my local Hastings on my weekly visit, or an album I downloaded on the recommendation by a friend.  They all remind me of specific times in my life.  Some bad, but mostly good.  Music though has been the foundation that has held it all together, and simply hearing a song while scrolling through my library can take me back to whatever exactly moment and emotion that I have related to it.

I recently have been going back through my library as I moved all my music and subsequently lost a good majority of my album artwork.  My musical OCD will not allow me to put the music on my iPod without having artwork, so I’ve been hard at working going through all 24,756 songs.  This has led to me being reminded of some gems that have been hidden on my iPod for years, so here they are…


Sufjan Stevens – “Justice Delivers Its Death”

Sufjan Stevens has done it again.  Making an epic collection of Christmas EP’s that is.

Entitled Silver and Gold, this collection of Christmas music takes off where Steven’s last collection of music left off, but manages to take it to a whole other level.  Using much of the sparse acoustic, bedroom arrangements that have made Stevens a mainstay in the indie music world, but also incorporating all the new elements brought to life on the Age of Adz album.  This collection really has a little bit for anybody that is even remotely interested in anything that Stevens has put out.

Consisting of a total of 58 Christmas songs (If you include the cover of Prince’s “Alphabet”), these EP’s help to make Christmas music come to life again for a whole new generation.

On his Bandcamp site it states, “Who can save us from the infidels of Christmas commodity? Look no further, tired shopper, for your hero arrives as the diligent songwriter Sufjan Stevens.”  Stevens does exactly that, with the track “Justice Delivers Its Death.”  The song serves as a somber reminder to remember that Christmas isn’t about stuff, and maybe to focus on the ultimate gift that was given to us.  The salvation, freedom, and hope that Christ coming to a depraved world desperately in need of saving that was brought by a baby in a manger.

Thanks for the reminder Sufjan Stevens, because we absolutely need it!


Duke City Marathon Training Playlist

This past Sunday I recorded my last long-distance run before the Duke City Marathon.  While it might have been the longest 3 hours of my life, there were definitely some highlights.

A. Watching the hot air balloons take off from Balloon Fiesta Park

B. Knowing that I’ve stuck with my training, and that my wife and son were proud of me

C. 3 hours of quality music

Below I’ve listed some of my favorite that I’ve been jamming to on my runs the last few months.  Enjoy!

The Parish of Little Clifton – “Your Smile Unfolds”

As of late, I have been listening to a ton of The Parish of Little Clifton.  Might be because my son is obsessed with “It’s Okay, Roseanne” (he calls it the Easel Easel Nadge song) and “Firework Mirror” (He calls it the Fireworks song).

Regardless of this Simon Bridgefoot, the man behind The Parish of Little Clifton, makes some excellent electronic tunes.  In the same vain as Teen Daze, he has really put some very creative music.  Mastering the use of a sample mixed with a totally chilled out beat.

His latest track just released on Cultus Vibes for free here, is another great example of why you should be listening to the Parish of Little Clifton.  Built around what appears  a nice Jazz/R&B sample, paired with some nice synth, that’s not to out there but that really compliments the song.

One sample states, “I’m on a Sunday High.”  I couldn’t imagine a better song to get my Sunday going.

Least of These – “Grace”

Was doing my weekly Tuesday check of new music on Come&Live, and came across an E.P. from Least of These.  Couldn’t find a whole lot of info about them besides the fact that they are from Texas.  Well apparently David Crowder* Band is not the only amazing worship coming out of Texas.

I just love any type of worship that sounds fresh, and the track “Grace,” from the More Than Conquerors E.P. certainly fits the bill.  Reminding of worship heroes Ascend the Hill, “Grace,” is a true standout.  I love the chorus, “Oh Grace has washed my transgressions away!”  Especially, towards the end of the track when the band really starts to rock.  It’s like a plea to the world to simply trust in God.

You can really hear the passion in this song.  With vocals filled with desperation, to guitars shifting gears from a grunge type guitar lick to  a soaring solo.  The rhythm section also does a great job of helping the song to swell, really helping to get the songs point across.  Quite simply, God’s Grace is amazing!

Bon Iver – “Skinny Love”

2 days removed from Coachella Weekend 2, and it was an amazing experience!  I got to spend it with my beautiful wife of almost five years, and my brother.  I had such a great time that I was reluctant to take off my wrist band until today when I saw a cool trick to take it off without having to cut it.

I have literally seen so much music over the past weekend that I can barely keep track of who and what I saw.  Could be the 105 degree desert sun fried my brain a bit.  Some of shows I caught while there included Neon Indian, M83, Gotye, Radiohead, Miike Snow, Manchester Orchestra, Radiohead, and of course the Tupac hologram just to name a few.

One musician really stood out, and I think was hands down one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen.  Of course I’m talking about Bon Iver.  After winning a Grammy, the man still plays with such a passion, that you can only fathom how much he loves making music and sharing it with people.  My wife and I literally had chills while he played some of our favorites including “Holocene” and “Perth.”

The highlight of the show for me though was when Justin Vernon sat down with an old, beat-up acoustic guitar and played “Skinny Love”.  As he slipped into his falsetto, strumming away on his guitar it was easy to lose one’s place in the world, and simply be swept away.

Thanks for an amazing show Bon Iver!!!

Great Forest – “Step Into My Arms”

Hailing from Arkansas, the band Great Forest is a brand new band who have only been writing music together for a little over six months.  Despite their short time spent playing music together, their first self-titled EP is a treat.  Even better you can get it for free here.

While all of the tracks are some high quality indie-pop gems, the last track on the EP, “Step Into My Arms” is definitely one of the highlights.  Complete with a great dynamics ranging from soft and simple keyboard, building up to the level of some grandiose arena rock.  I really love all of the variation that this track gives.  During some of the bigger moments I’m reminded of Manchester Orchestra, and during other parts I can help but think of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity album.

The lyrics also seem to have a great message, encouraging the listener to trust in God with all of their hearts.  “If we could only see what we’re meant to be.  Give us eyes to see,” is repeated during the end of the song.  Reminding us that God has an amazing plans for each and every one of us.  If we could all see how God sees us, I’m sure many of us would have a much different perspective of our lives.

I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these guys, and I will certainly be anticipating a full-length release from them.