Sunday, February 23, 2014

Bye Bye Blogger

After ten years of using Blogger as my primary source of writing and posting photos on the interwebs, I'm finally launching out on my own (with a little help from Wix) with a brand new website that will feature my blog, a dedicated page for my photography, and who knows what else might make an appearance. Hop on over to to see my shiny new website and don't forget to bookmark it while you are there - after a month or so, this current page will disappear into the ether forever.

I hope you'll join me on this new adventure!

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Downloadable Dozen #1: The Lone Bellow - Bleeding Out

The last time a band captured my attention like The Lone Bellow has this year was back in 1983 when I heard U2 for the first time. The remarkable combination of meaningful lyrics, musical excellence, and passionate performance has put The Lone Bellow at the top of my song list for 2013 and is also my #1 pick for album of the year. This song, and really the entire record, is fueled by an absolute conviction that redemption has taken place and is now available to anyone who will reach out to receive it. This song tells us, "we are all of the beauty that has not been seen." The Lone Bellow have revealed some of that beauty in this, their first album. I look forward to many more.

Favourite Lyric
All the buildings, they lean and they smile down on us
And they shout from their roof tops, words we can't trust
Like you’re dead, you are tired
You’re ruined, you're dust
Oh you will amount to nothing, like tanks full of rust

But we scream back at them
From below on the street
All in unison we sing, our time's been redeemed
We are all of the beauty, that has not been seen
We are full of the color, that’s never been dreamed
Well, nothing we need ever dies

I've seen a number of comments saying that their album is overproduced and that they are much better live. I'd say that applies to almost any decent band out there, however, to get a good sense of The Lone Bellow as a live act, check out this video for their performance at an NPR Tiny Desk Concert. This is where I first discover them.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #2: Civil Wars - The One That Got Away

What can be written that hasn't already been said about the Civil Wars and their acrimonious relationship? This song has so many layers of meaning - are they singing about each other? Do they really wish they'd never formed this incredible musical union? Is there something deeper that has caused them to split up? Or maybe it's just a song about longing and heartache and not being satisfied with the relationship you have. However you choose to interpret the song, it is one heavy emotional outpouring that still takes my breath away.

Favourite Lyric
Oh, if I could go back in time
When you only held me in my mind
Just a longing gone without a trace
Oh, I wish I'd never ever seen your face
I wish you were the one
Wish you were the one that got away

Monday, December 30, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #3: Kacey Musgraves - Merry Go 'Round

I first heard this song late in 2012 and instantly knew it was going to be big. Little did I know Kacey Musgraves would go on to win CMA New Artist of the Year and be nominated for three Grammy awards. As far as I'm concerned, she deserves every accolade she receives after putting out what may be the best country album of 2013 and might possibly be the record that redefines country music for the next generation. There are already other artists emerging who are taking a similar "no topic is off-limits" approach to songwriting. This song in particular is nothing short of brilliant and could have very easily ended up in the #1 spot if not for two of my favourite artists also putting out new records this year.

Favourite Lyric
Mama's hooked on Mary Kay.
Brother's hooked on Mary Jane.
Daddy's hooked on Mary two doors down.
Mary, Mary quite contrary.
We get bored, so, we get married
Just like dust, we settle in this town.
On this broken merry go 'round and 'round and 'round we go
Where it stops nobody knows and it ain't slowin' down
This merry go 'round.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #4: David Bowie - The Stars (Are Out Tonight)

David Bowie reappeared this year after a ten-year absence from the music scene with a remarkable new album that sounds as fresh and essential as anything Bowie has ever recorded. I could have picked from any number of tracks on this album but settled on this commentary on celebrity, fame, the media and its power over us. The video is a great piece of Bowie weirdness that I've come to appreciate as it is almost always delivered with tongue in cheek.

Favourite Lyric
They watch us from behind their shades
Brigitte, Jack and Kate and Brad
From behind their tinted window stretch
Gleaming like blackened sunshine

Downloadable Dozen #5: All Over Ohio - Over The Rhine

Every time Over the Rhine releases a record, you can be pretty sure they'll have a song make my Downloadable Dozen. In my mind at least, this husband and wife duo is the most underrated band working today and deserve far more attention than they get. Intelligent, sweet, powerful, passionate, and filled with deep faith. An Over the Rhine record is not to be consumed in bits and pieces on a shuffling iPod, but rather, in one continuous play on a reflective afternoon.

Favourite Lyric #1
All I wanna be is a thousand black birds
Bursting from a tree into the blue
Love – let it be not just a feeling
But the broken beauty
Of what we choose to do

Favourite Lyric #2
I have seen the slow corruption
Of the best ideas of Christ
In the pulpits of our nation
Gospel turned into white lies
If you preach a subtle hatred -
The bible as your alibi
God damn you right here in Ohio

Friday, December 27, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #6: Highway Don't Care - Tim McGraw & Taylor Swift

From Arcade Fire to Tim McGraw. That's the kind of year in music it's been for me. This is one of those songs that got stuck in my head and just won't go away. Despite hearing it almost every day throughout the summer, I still haven't grown tired of it. I'm not a big fan of the video, but the song is unforgettable. It's sentimental as all get out, but I get sucked in every time.

Favourite Lyric
The highway won't hold you tonight
The highway don't know you're alive
The highway don't care if you're all alone
But I do, I do.
The highway won't dry your tears
The highway don't need you here
The highway don't care if you're coming home
But I do, I do.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #7: Reflektor - Arcade Fire

I'm not sure that the latest Arcade Fire album stands up as well as their previous material (which still makes it better than 98% of everything else out there), but Reflektor is one heck of a good song and as lyrically enigmatic as anything else they've written. The beauty of a song like Reflektor is that it is open to interpretation. I would guess Arcade Fire likes it this way. I take it as a reflection on death, God, and the afterlife. But it could just be about some girl.

Favourite Lyric
It’s just a reflection of a reflection
Of a reflection of a reflection
Will I see you on the other side?
We all got things to hide
It’s just a reflection of a reflection
Of a reflection of a reflection
Will I see you on the other side?
We all got things to hide

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #8: I Will - Andy Gullahorn

I first heard Andy Gullahorn when Jason Gray shared a file of Andy's latest album Beyond The Frame with me on a flight from Calgary to Vancouver. There are not many records that can bring a tear to my eye, but this one did...on the plane. Jason said Andy was his favourite songwriter and now I know why. Every song on the album is beautiful, deep, and meaningful. This track in particular speaks to the brokenness in all of us and that sometimes the very best thing we can do is just cry together through the dark times. It's beautiful, it's haunting, and it speaks to somewhere very deep inside me.

Favourite Lyric
Sometimes, people think it's better
Feeding you an answer
To what you can't understand
But if you want someone who
Will just cry with you
I can

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #9: Counting Stars - OneRepublic

As you've probably guessed by now, I'm not a big fan of top 40 pop music, but every once in a while a real gem comes along that deserves to be recognized. This infectious song by OneRepublic is just catchy enough and lyrically interesting enough to keep me singing along every time I hear it. Katy Perry's Roar came in a close second to this track, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to hate that song in about six months. That's pretty much how I feel about most pop songs. Counting Stars at least has a chance of still being in rotation a year from now.

Favourite Lyric
Lately I been, I been losing sleep
Dreaming about the things that we could be
But baby, I been, I been prayin' hard
Said no more counting dollars
We'll be counting stars
Yeah, we'll be counting stars

Monday, December 23, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #10: Come Unto Me - The Mavericks

This is the first of several country songs that made the list this year. With a few notable exceptions, overall I found this a disappointing year in rock/pop music. Thankfully there were some incredible albums released by country artists, including The Mavericks who put out their first record in ten years. There are a handful of great tracks on the album, but this is my favourite. The lyrics are not particularly clever, but the music is outstanding. Enjoy the live performance above.

Favourite Lyric
There is nothing that anyone can say to me
To persuade me to change my mind needlessly
For here I am and I will stay
To long for you in every way
To love you better, come what may
To fight for you another day, day, day

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Downloadable Dozen #11: Silver - The Gray Havens

Admittedly, this is a pretty obscure choice for my top twelve list, but from the moment I first heard The Gray Havens on Under the Radar, I was hooked on their unique sound and intelligent lyrics. This song was one of three that I had a hard time choosing between. They're using Kickstarter to raise funds for a full-length album, hopefully in April 2014. If you like their sound, click here to help them out.

Favourite Lyric
We were taken through the shadows,
We were carried through the night,
When the sun appeared
My fears of silver melted in the light,
And we saw the world with different eyes,
And we sang...
We will cross any water any water,
And if we find, there's a song that's getting stronger,
We will sound all of our silver songs
And we will know if they belong.