Sunday, July 31, 2005

Musical Graffiti, 7/31: Pedro the Lion, Van Morrison, Sufjan Stevens

Three quick music-related links that some of you might be interested in:

1. Pedro the Lion is streaming a brand new song, "The Devil is Beating His Wife," from their official Web site. You can listen to the song in both its electric and acoustic incarnations.

2. Andy Whitman, music critic extraordinaire, blogs about the greatness of Van Morrison.

3. Finally, thanks to Dv for pointing me to this Denver Post article on Sufjan Stevens and his Asthmatic Kitty record label.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Rubber Soul turns 40

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark Beatles album Rubber Soul-- the album that, according to many critics, marked the start of the Fab Four's transformation from entertainers into true innovators. And, as usual, some record label suit must have thought "Hey, what better way to celebrate the anniversary of a classic album than to desecrate it?"

Yep, that's right... we've got another multi-artist tribute to look forward to. But, believe it or not, this one doesn't sound half bad. Among the participants: Sufjan Stevens, Low, The Fiery Furnaces, and Ben Harper.

Here's the full track listing for This Bird Has Flown, which releases October 25th:

01 Drive My Car - The Donnas
02 Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) - The Fiery Furnaces
03 You Won't See Me - Dar Williams
04 Nowhere Man - Low
05 Think for Yourself - Yonder Mountain String Band
06 The Word - Mindy Smith
07 Michelle - Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
08 What Goes On - Sufjan Stevens
09 Girl - Rhett Miller
10 I'm Looking Through You - Ted Leo
11 In My Life - Ben Lee
12 Wait - Ben Kweller
13 If I Needed Someone - Nellie McKay
14 Run for Your Life - Cowboy Junkies

I'll be interested in hearing how this project turns out; if it ends up being any good, you can count on me to be hoping for a Revolver tribute from this same crowd!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

To Kill a Mockingbird?

Good grief, Derek Webb is a busy guy. Since leaving Caedmon's Call in 2003 the singer/songwriter has released two studio albums and a live recording, and, even amidst constant touring, it looks like he's going to bring his total catalogue up to five entries by the end of 2005. In October he'll be releasing a live concert DVD, How to Kill and Be Killed, and, on the day after Christmas, we'll get to hear his new studio record, Mockingbird. Derekwebb.net has the details.

You know, for my money, Webb may very well be the most convicting singer/songwriter making music today, and certainly the best artist to come out of the Christian music industry since... gosh... Leslie Phillips?!?

Webb's 2003 debut, She Must and Shall Go Free, remains my favorite of his records. It's an energetic roots/rock album filled with references to the Reformation and calls for the Church to return to the message of the Gospel. The album was born out of Webb's frustration over the Prayer of Jabez fad, and it shows; his lyrics use strong, startling language to warn against heresies and false teachings and remind us that, in the end, the simple message of Christ's Gospel is all that we really need.

Last year he released the sequel to that album, I See Things Upside Down, an album that's more thematically scattered and musically obtuse, but still highly rewarding. His love for Wilco and U2 is a bit too obvious in places, but his lyrics are uniformly strong. Few singers are as honest and as eloquent as Webb when it comes to the hypocrisy and waywardness of Christ's people, and listening to his songs almost always leads me to shed a few tears and plea to God for a repentant heart.

All that to say, Mockingbird has immediately shot to the top of my 2005 must-hear list.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Havin' church with the Arcade Fire

Some exciting new from MTV.com: Not only has Canadian rock band Arcade Fire bought their own church, but it work on their second full-length album is set to begin this fall.


For those who aren't in the know, Arcade Fire is, quite simply, the most exciting new rock band in ages. I reviewed their debut album, Funeral, at Reveal, and also included them in my Best of 2004 list. I stand by most of what I wrote in the review, but, as I've spent more and more time with the album, I'm beginning to see that my slight criticism of the album was a bit premature. I initially wrote that the album is too bleak and despairing to listen to frequently, but the album has come to affect me in the same way that U2's Pop affects me. The more I listen, the more I can hear undercurrents of dialogue with the Divine bubbling beneath the surface of these songs; take, for example, "Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles)," a song that wrestles with the silence of God just as passionately as Bono's "Wake Up Dead Man," even if it never mentions the Deity by name. And then there's the exclamation of Christ's name in "Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)," a line that could be interpreted as a blasphemy, but is more likely a desperate plea for help, directed to the only One who can possibly offer us any help.

If anything, Funeral goes even farther than Pop does. While the U2 album is marked primarily by despair and by dissatisfaction with the status quo, Funeral is an album of action, an album of defiance, an album that actively searches for an answer to the problems of pain and sin. For me, it's probably the more inspiring of the two; even if it arrives at very few answers, the restlessness of the songs leads to soul-searching, catharsis, and an end to complacency.

And, really, what more could one ask for from a rock record?

Critical Condition: Jason Mraz

Stephen Thomas Erlewine has weighed in with his reaction to the new Jason Mraz record, Mr. A-Z, and he eloquently sums up everything I disliked about the arrogant, self-absorbed lyrics from Mraz' first record.

In case you didn't catch the pun in the title of Jason Mraz's sophomore album, Mr. A-Z, the perpetually sophomoric singer/songwriter repeats it in the chorus of "Wordplay," the first single from this follow-up to his hit 2002 debut, Waiting for My Rocket to Come. It's a play on his last name, which is appropriate, since it not only indicates how self-absorbed Mr. Mraz is, but it's a good match for the dirty joke title of his debut. That's because Jason Mraz is primarily concerned with two things: himself and sex. But even when he's talking about the latter, he fits the former into the equation — "I've been working on getting you off, so get on board," for instance — because he does consider himself to be quite a compelling presence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

First Impressions: Amos Lee



Last November, Norah Jones and her dynamite band played a show right here in Knoxville, and I took my girlfriend to see it as a way of celebrating her birthday. We arrived at the show a bit late, but were just in time to catch the last few songs performed by Jones' opening act, Amos Lee. The then-unknown Lee had no band with him, relying simply on his own skills as a guitarist, singer, and storyteller to captivate the crowd. And captivate us he did; I was immediately impressed with Lee, who simultaneously brought to mind several of America's most enduring singer/songwriters-- Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, James Taylor, Otis Redding. Lee sang with the golden voice of a great American crooner, and his songcraft was remarkable, at once traditional and forward-thinking.

Since that time, Lee has released a self-titled debut album, which I've finally had the pleasure of hearing. The good news is that everything I loved about Lee's live show is still present here; he proves himself over the course of twelve songs to be an impressively smart songwriter, fully aware of the great tradition of American song but never content to be a mere nostalgia act. His skills as a writer, coupled with his beautiful voice, make him a dangerous new talent.

Let's just hope he finds himself a producer who has the guts to unleash that talent on the world. Unfortunately produced by Norah Jones bassist Lee Alexander, Lee's album sounds like it was carefully crafted to appeal to the same core audience who loves Jones' music so much. That is, it's an extremely mellow, low-key affair, with Lee's energy and enthusiasm often getting lost under all the polish.

It sounds like meticulously crafted background music. And Amos Lee deserves better than that. He proves here that he's more than capable of holding an audience's attention, if only his sound is allowed to exist unencumbered by sleepy, bland arrangements and lifeless production.

Critical Condition: Denison Witmer

Just read Pitchfork Media's review of Are You a Dreamer?, the new disc from Denison Witmer, which releases in stores today. I'm totally unfamiliar with Witmer's music, but I have to wonder... man, how did I miss this guy? Apparently the new album features contributions from Sufjan Stevens and The Innocence Mission, which makes it a must-hear in my book!

Friday, July 22, 2005

Even more Illinoise!

I guess we may as well declare this the Year of Sufjan Stevens. It seems like nobody can get enough of this guy; the rave reviews and insightful interviews just keep rolling in:

1. The Seattle Weekly heaps praise upon the album in this impressively thoughtful review.

2. The Washington Post digs the new album, too.

3. Sufjan chats with Delusions of Adequacy about a variety of subjects, including the ways in which his faith shapes his art:

DOA: How much does your faith influence your art?
SS: Well, faith is art: the art of taking a big risk, I suppose — the art of making a big mistake and suffering the consequences. But logistically I suppose my process of making art is driven less by abstractions of faith or politics and more by practical theory: composition and balance and
color. On an aesthetic level, faith and art are a dangerous match. Today, they can quickly lead to devotional artifice or didactic crap. This would summarize the Christian publishing world or the Christian music industry. If you are an artist of faith (a Methodist or a Jew), then you have the responsibility to manage the principles of your faith wisely lest they be reduced to stereotype,
which is patronizing to the church and to the world, and, perhaps, to God. Consider what John Zorn has done for Jewish music. It’s not so much that faith influences us as it lives in us. In every circumstance (giving a speech or tying my shoes), I am living and moving and being. This absolves me from ever making the embarrassing effort to gratify God (and the church) by imposing religious content on anything I do. I mean, I’ve written songs about stalkers. Is that any less religious than a song about an ordained pastor? No way.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Critical Condition: Dave Matthews Band, Maria McKee

Just a couple of quick links to new reviews of two noteworthy 2005 releases:

1. David Martin, occasional guest critic at Reveal, has posted his thoughts on Dave Matthews Band's Stand Up. (And it ain't pretty.)

2. Jeffrey Overstreet has blogged about his first impressions of the new Maria McKee album, Peddlin' Dreams.

For what its worth, I still haven't heard the DMB album. I'm familiar with most of the group's recordings, and was impressed by some of the reflective, soul-searching lyrics on Busted Stuff ("Bartender" remains one of 2002's best songs), but, by and large, their music strikes me as placing too much emphasis on musicianship and too little emphasis on songcraft.

I have, however, heard McKee's new album, and it is indeed strong. It's an immensely sad recording, burded by broken hearts and lost love, but McKee finds such rich poetry in the midst of her sorrow that it's ultimately beautiful (and cathartic). Save for the last song-- a ridiculously out-of-place tune that sounds like it belongs in a Broadway musical-- it's an album of compelling American roots music, with tasteful arrangements that give McKee's voice a chance to take center stage.

One could almost call it this year's Sea Change. Or even Ohio. Not quite as brilliant as either of those albums, but cut from the same cloth.

What's up with M-R-A-Z?

Thanks to Brenden for pointing me toward VH1.com, where you can now stream the new album from Jason Mraz, Mr. A-Z.

I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet, but, for what its worth, I remember my reaction to Mraz' major-label debut, Waiting For My Rocket to Come, as being a mixture of excitement and frustration. Excited because Mraz is a dangerous new talent; he's got the beautiful, silky-smooth voice of a great American crooner, and he plays with it and twists his words deftly. Frustrated because, though his lyrics are often quite clever, they're also occasionally juvenile and arrogant, and, more importantly, the album's production is way too polished, cloaking the musicianship on display with a thick layer of radio-ready gloss.

It's one of those debuts that I'd file under "Not Great, but Promising," so I'll be curious to hear how this new record compares.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Musical Graffiti, 7/19

A few noteworthy music-related headlines for today, lovingly stolen from the blog of Jeffrey Overstreet:

  • Elvis Costello and Emmylou Harris must have had a great time working together on The Delivery Man last year, 'cause now they're touring together.
  • Speaking of Emmylou, here's AMG's review of her new best-of collection.
  • Michael Stipe reflects on the conclusion of REM's Around the Sun world tour.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Everyone's talking about the Illinoise

As eclectic, ambitious, and utterly big as it is, there's no wonder that folks everywhere are talking about Sufjan Steven's Illinois record. Here are a couple of illuminating new interviews with the ingenius singer/songwriter:

1. First, check out the Onion AV Club's chat with Sufjan. (Thanks to bloop for the link!)

O: Some of the topics you landed on make perfect sense, but why, out of all the people from Illinois, did you choose to write a song about John Wayne Gacy?
SS: I kind of wanted an anti-hero, because I had been working on material for Superman and Metropolis, and developing themes that were really big for the World's Fair and the Sears Tower,
and using Saul Bellow and Carl Sandburg and Abraham Lincoln. And I felt like all the information I had gleaned was really optimistic, about the resilience of the Midwestern worker and the industry and commerce that went into developing Chicago as a major American city. So I guess I wanted to develop a story for a character that went against all of these other themes.

2. Second, here's an older, pre-Illinois interview in which Sufjan discusses his plans for future 50 states albums. (Thanks to Brenden for this one!)

Are you going to do New York?
I would like it if each record had a certain musical style and I would like New York to be rock, punk rock. I would like Oregon to be kind of folky, and New Jersey is movie soundtrack meets Broadway musical.

3. Finally, don't forget to check out the 40-minute set that Sufjan played for KCRW radio last Thursday.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Best, Most Disappointing, Worst Albums of 2005 (So Far)

Andy Whitman posed this question over at the Arts and Faith board: With 2005 halfway over, what are the best, most disappointing, and worst albums you've heard all year?

My votes:

BEST:

Andrew Bird and the Mysterious Production of Eggs-- A masterpiece of imagination and creativity. As a writer of melodies, Bird deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Brian Wilson; as an arranger, he has made an impressively eclectic album out of surprisingly few instruments; and as a writer of funny, touching, and riddlesome lyrics, he is completely in a league of his own. This one's already a classic.

Sufjan Stevens, Illinois-- Sufjan and his small army of musicians and singers turn a road trip through Illinois into a moving, complex study of humanity. Who knew that a midwestern state could be so much fun?

Over the Rhine, Drunkard's Prayer-- As intimate as anything in the OtR canon, this album may not be as consistent as Good Dog Bad Dog, but it's still dazzling in its beauty and the focus of its poetry. And, it makes me swoon.

The Ragbirds, Yes Nearby. A dynamite new band that's destined for the same kind of cult greatness as OtR and Bruce Cockburn. Mysterious, poetic, and infinitely eclectic.

MOST DISAPPOINTING:

The White Stripes, Get Behind Me Satan-- Somehow, the Stripes took a set of excellent songs and made them into a merely decent album. Ah, what a difference some focus makes!

Coldplay, X and Y-- I had hoped that this album would signal their leap from U2-lite compositions to real invention and art. Instead, it just signals the fact that they're pretty much out of ideas.

WORST:

John Davis, John Davis-- Trite lyrics and Brian Wilson ripoffs aplenty. I'm glad the guy converted to Christianity, but I wish it hadn't led him to make such an uninspired album.

I'll also add a category of my own... MOST UNDERAPPRECIATED:

Aimee Mann, The Forgotten Arm-- For me, this is one of the most rewarding song cycles of the year, a subtle, insightful concept album about the inadequacy of human love and why we need it anyway. Some has accused this of being one of Mann's weaker albums, but the complaints I've hard about it have all been rather vague-- "the songs just aren't as compelling," "the individual tracks aren't as strong as the whole," etc. If someone can give me a reason for WHY the individual songs aren't as compelling then perhaps I'll reconsider; for now, though, I think it's a well-played, melodic throwback to the rock and roll of the 1970s, masterfully produced by Joe Henry.

So... what are your picks for 2005's best and worst?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Rolling Stone adds to the Illinoise

Well, it's official. Sufjan Stevens is no longer the exclusive property of music geeks and indie purists. His latest and greatest album, Illinois, has won itself a 4-star review in the most recent issue of Rolling Stone. Say what you will about the magazine-- like, say that it's completely ridiculous and devoid of any kind of substantial music criticism-- but one has to admit that, when you're the lead review in the world's most popular music magazine-- and it's a 4-star rave-- you've arrived.

Rob Sheffield's review is mostly well done. He totally nails my favorite song on the record:

"Casimir Pulaski Day" is a monstrously sad acoustic ballad about a friend dying
of cancer and leaving a lot of painful spiritual questions behind. The singer
prays for his friend, but his friend dies anyway; the singer is too young and
scared to ask God why, so the trumpet solo has to ask.

But, in the last paragraph, I think Sheffield's mind suddenly turns to pudding. For instance, what's up with this criticism?

Illinois has some of the pitfalls you expect from literary
singer-songwriter albums. Flute solos, for one thing.

Um, what's wrong with flute solos? Granted, the flute players in my high school marching band tended to a little squeaky, but the woodwinds on Illinois are uniformly beautiful. Sheffield talks like there's something inherently wrong with them... perhaps he had a bad experience with a flute before?

His most nonsensical complaint, however, is this one:

For another, there's the inevitable song about the serial killer who
dresses up as a clown, which symbolizes nothing about American life except the
existence of creative-writing workshops.

Uh... the inevitable song about a serial killer who dresses up as a clown? What other albums have such a song?!? For one thing, the song is based on real-life events, and Sufjan's lyrics are remarkable in their detail and the ammount of research that obviously went into the writing. For another thing, the song adds so much more to the lyrical fabric of the album than Sheffield gives it credit for; indeed, it's final verse is as chilling and as convicting as any lyric I've heard all year.

The White Stripes-- Get Behind Me Satan


In the film The Five Obstructions, moviemaker Lars von Trier challenges his former teacher, Jorgen Leth, to a sort of brainy cinematic game. The task is simple: Leth must remake one of his own films, but, in doing so, he must submit to a series of rules and regulations imposed by von Trier. Though one is tempted to view the exercise as just another cruel example of von Trier’s sadism, Leth soon discovers that his former pupil’s restrictions are actually inspiring his creativity. Confinement and limitation, he finds, can sometimes give birth to great works of art.

Jack and Meg White—collectively known as the White Stripes—are also believers in this principle. And they don’t even need Lars von Trier breathing down their necks to keep them disciplined; over the course of their career, the Whites have always devised and adhered to their own self-imposed rules and restrictions, and, thus far, their little game has yielded much success.

Now, with the release of Get Behind Me Satan, the Stripes have raised the hurdle higher than ever before. Forcing themselves to complete the album in a mere three weeks time, Jack and Meg recorded the album with the intention of proving the old music adage that an artist’s demo is usually better than the final album. To gauge their success, though, one must first decide exactly how the final product should be measured; though the individual tracks are mostly strong, with just a few sounding undercooked, the Stripes seem to have built their house without ever constructing the foundation. This collection sounds far too much like… well, a collection— lacking in focus and cohesion—rather than an actual album.

Not surprisingly, minimalism is the name of the game. Most of these tracks are rendered here in the barest of settings: “Blue Orchid,” the dynamite first single, is nothing more than fuzzy metal riffs and Jack’s gleeful falsetto; “My Doorbell,” an old-fashioned R&B number that could almost pass for a lost Jackson Five rarity, is fashioned from just piano and drums; “Forever for Her (It’s Over for Me)” is a brooding ballad played on piano, acoustic guitar, and hand percussion; “Little Ghost” is a rollicking bluegrass number, featuring just acoustic guitar and tambourine.

The Stripes dig their shovels in deep to uncover the heart of these songs, and, more often than not, their minimalism results in moments of unencumbered passion and musical clarity. Unfortunately, these moments also sound like they’re all taken from different albums. Though “White Moon,” “Instinct Blues,” and “Passive Manipulation” work well together as a seamless suite, the record ultimately lacks a real center, and, it seems, a sense of purpose.

In fact, besides the production, the only thing that lends these songs any sense of cohesion is Jack’s lyrical focus. Though he’s stated that the album is about “characters and the ideal of truth” (whatever), it’s really an album about betrayal and the complexities of love. Song titles like “I’m Lonely (But I Ain’t That Lonely Yet)” speak for themselves, but others, like “The Nurse,” take a more obtuse path, using sometimes-absurd imagery to convey feelings of paranoia and disillusionment. The singer in “Little Ghost” is in love with an apparition, while “My Doorbell” is a by-the-numbers tale of unrequited love. The only song that seems thematically out of place is “Take, Take, Take,” an otherwise excellent song about the trappings of celebrity, haunted by the ghost of Rita Hayworth.

It’s just one great idea on an album full of them. Unfortunately, all these great ideas never quite add up into something that holds together as a unified piece of art. Chalk this one up as a transition record. Or perhaps a noble, entertaining experiment. Whatever you call it, there’s no denying that there are few rock bands out there who are taking as many exciting hairpin turns as The White Stripes, who prove once again that they’ve got quite a bit of the devil in them.

(Originally posted by Josh Hurst at Reveal.)

The Pernice Brothers-- Discover a Lovelier You

Always winter but never Christmas. Such was the cruel curse in C.S. Lewis’ beloved world of Narnia. Listening to Discover a Lovelier You, it’s tempting to say that, in the world of Joe Pernice, it’s always summer but never vacation.

Pernice might as well have called the album Discover a Lovelier You, Because This Current Model Ain’t Too Pretty. Indeed, there are few pop songwriters who have forged such a prolific career out of cynicism and gloom. Recorded by Pernice and his ad hoc collective of collaborators, Discover a Lovelier You continues the long-running Pernice tradition of creating delicious pop delicacies out of fear, hopelessness, and alienation.

What’s different this time is the musical backdrop. Rarely has there been such a jarringly odd couple of sound and lyric; while Pernice’s sentiment is perpetually cloudy, his music has never sounded sunnier. These are the kind of sweet confections that demand to be played in the car on a hot summer day, windows down and stereo blasting.

Listening to these thirteen new songs, it’s easy to understand why Pernice has developed such a sizeable cult following. The man is a walking encyclopedia of pop music: he channels the spirit of Brian Wilson with the sweet vocal harmonies of “Saddest Quo”; he references 1980s techno on “Sell Your Hair”; and he crossbreeds the Beatles and the Shins on the furious “Snow.” His pleasing, unquavering voice is given ample room by the warm, sun-kissed arrangements, and as a melody writer he deserves to be mentioned in the same sentence as Sam Phillips, Ron Sexsmith, and Elvis Costello. It’s a recipe for pop brilliance, and Pernice follows it to the letter.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t missteps. Many of the album’s mid-tempo songs (“Sell Your Hair,” “My So-Called Celibate Life”) lack the spark of his livelier tracks, and the social commentary on “Dumb it Down” seems way too easy for a lyricist of Pernice’s caliber. Still, for clunker there are at least a couple of gems. “Saddest Quo” is a heavenly anthem of despair that invites you to sing along at full volume, and the title cut is the album’s gorgeous instrumental centerpiece. And those aren’t even the best songs; just get a load of the killer hook on “Subject Drop” and the amazing glow of “Amazing Glow.”

You’d think that such a talented pop songsmith would have plenty to be happy about, but Pernice, as always, finds the black lining of every silver cloud. The most optimistic line on the whole record comes in the beautiful breakup song, “There Goes the Sun”:

Kick the life from me and none better comes
‘Til one better
comes, there goes the sun


Things just go downhill from there. Political frustration abounds, as Pernice lampoons our age of color-coded homeland security in “Say Goodnight to the Lady” and mourns our culture’s celebration of mediocrity in “Dumb it Down.” In “My So-Called Celibate Life” he’s “out of love and out of luck,” and “it’s a short slide down” to total desperation.

Pernice’s vision of the world is illuminated the brightest in “Saddest Quo.” Here, Pernice vows that he’s “trying to be a better person,” but his hopefulness is tried and tested by the brokenness that surrounds him:

There’s a train wreck
Picking up survivors from a plane crash
On the TV live
And it’s a sad status quotient,
Waiting for the sky to fall

Here, the gaping chasm between sound and lyric begins to make sense. Amidst such sad words, the music turns from bright and chipper to wistful—almost hopeful—as if each hook and every note is really Pernice’s prayer for deliverance. And, as I witness him creating order and beauty in a sometimes ugly world, I realize that the art of the Pernice Brothers may very well be part of the answer to the world’s prayers for healing and grace.

(Originally posted by Josh Hurst at Reveal.)

Lookin' for a sound that's gonna drown out the world...

Freelance writing is a fickle mistress. Love her, but never trust her, for she's liable to pull the rug right out from under you.

Recently, my own gig as a film writer has been blessed with more success than I ever thought possible, what with new jobs at CT Movies and all. I've graciously been given many exciting new opportunities, and I'm honestly rather surprised and humbled by it all.

And yet I can't help but laugh sometimes, because film writing certainly wasn't what began my journey down the road of writing. Believe it or not, I've been writing about music since I was thirteen years old. (Remember that kid from Almost Famous? That's me!) Music has always been my passion, and to this day I still find it to be a more meaningful art form than any other.

Not that I'm trying to bash film or film-writing here. I love movies dearly, and am unlikely to ever lose my zeal for writing about them and discussing them with other passionate moviegoers. It's just that recently I've been becoming a little frustrated, both by the lack of fair, critical, eloquent Christian-perspective music critics out there and by my own laziness and apathy in writing about exciting new music. (I am a slave to CT Movies! Auuugh!)

So, with no further yammering, welcome. This is the new weblog for Reveal, dubbed the Listening Lounge, as I hope to see it become a useful tool in getting the word out about what's playing over the stero here at Reveal Headquarters. But please... please... don't make me do all the talking here. I look forward to interacting with you folks through this blog's comment feature. So by all means, tell me when you agree with me. When you disagree. Challenge me. Argue. Tell me what's spinning in your CD player these days. Hopefully this will be a worthwhile endeavor as we all strive to seek out excellence and creativity in the music we listen to.

Josh