New Album Out Today | My Morning Jacket “Circuital”

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 Paste| 84/100

Pitchfork| 7.2/10

Jim James and My Morning Jacket dropped their much-anticipated sixth studio album today. It has been getting mixed, but overall positive reviews. Paste Magazine says|

“While Circuital is far from a perfect record, it boasts a collection of songs that indicates a return to form for these Louisville rockers following the road bump that came in the form of Evil Urges. Several tracks, including “Circuital” with its slow-building dynamic declaration and the ominous “Holdin’ On To Black Metal,” almost instantaneously can be placed among the band’s best songs. “First Light” roars with a brass-backed intensity, while “Movin’ Away” closes the record echoing the serenity found circa At Dawn.

Circuital is the record My Morning Jacket intended to make, but failed to create until now in the post-Z era. It’s partially infused in their classic warmth and partially dashed with intriguing progressions into unchartered territory. In doing so, the band has recreated the reverb-drenched twang of their earlier years, while successfully experimenting with some darker endeavors. So what stops this album from being on par with Z or It Still Moves? It’s certainly not the songwriting—James’ carries top form throughout Circuital. The problem, moreover, emerges in the fact that these are fantastic songs that don’t necessarily add up to comprise a great album.”

 

Critics have been cautious of the new MMJ, following the critical distaste for previous record Evil Urges, but overall, the reception has been positive and I plan on purchasing the album. Listen below to the aforementioned tracks off the new album and see for yourself

Circuital

Holdin On To Black Metal

The Avett Brothers | Live Review

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Overall Show: A+

The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands, their records are always consistent and every video I have ever seen of them playing live absolutely blows me away (watch the video posted in This earlier post for an example of that). And I have had countless people tell me “you NEED to see them live” and “you haven’t experienced the Avett Brothers until you’ve seen them live”. And were they right. The show (at the Summercamp music festival) was one of THE music experiences that I have had the pleasure to be a part of. Despite standing in a mud pit for two hours surrounded by less-than-sober festival attendees in a real hot sun, it was worth it for the performance on stage.

The Band: A+ (with extra-credit)

The stage presence of the Avett Brothers is unlike any other band I have ever seen. They commanded the crowd and interacted with each other as if each were close family members (it makes sense, since Seth and Scott Avett are close family members… brothers actually…). They switched instruments literally every song and brought in an occasional drummer who fit the Avett vibe perfectly. Their interaction with the crowd was genuine, authentic and surprisingly witty, including one instance when Scott Avett stuck the mic into the crowd and allowed a lucky fan to sing the chorus of a song. They had the crowd singing along, and they used that almost as a musical track in itself. During “Go to Sleep”, Joe Kwon started up the “la la, lalalala” and the crowd quickly joined in. The brothers did something similar during “Kick Drum Heart” and “I and Love and You”.

The show, outside on a hot day, at a festival where they are second to some crummy jam bands and obnoxious dubstep, they had every excuse to play a lethargic set, but instead, despite the venue, they exhausted themselves and gave me my moneys worth for the entire three-day festival.

The Setlist: A+

If I could have chosen a set list for the Avett Brothers to play, if would have looked remarkably similar to the set-list from the show I saw. The majority of the songs they sang were from “I and Love and You” (2009) and “Emotionalism” (2007), but they kindly threw in a few earlier tunes for their diehard fans in the crowd. Each song was a experience itself, sometimes changing the mood and feel of the crowd song-by-song. They started with “Slight Figure of Speech” off of “I and Love and You” and ended with an encore performance of “Talks on Indolence” (which I was secretly dying to hear them play. It did not disappoint).

The Venue: B

I had a great view of the band, probably about 3 rows from the front, below stage right (right underneath Joe Kwon) and I had a fantastic spot, especially considering the 15,000+ people watching the show. The sound was solid for an outdoor amphitheater, making for a very pleasant listening experience. But, the mud was almost unbearable. It had rained heavily during the day, and subsequently cleared up a bit, but the crowd was still standing in a lagoon of sinking mud. I ruined my Sperrys! I don’t think an amphitheatre is the place to see The Avett Brothers, I think an intimate club would be ideal. But regardless, it did not detract from the show all that much. But the people in the crowd did.

The Crowd: D

I went to Summercamp with literally zero expectations; all I knew is that The Avett Brothers would be there, it was an outdoor festival and it was supposed to rain. Turns out, it was a bunch of Jam bands and the same crowd that might find itself at a Grateful Dead show in decades past (more to come on this in future posts). But all of this to say, they were not really the Avett Brothers typical crowd. They danced oddly, smoked a lot of weed mid concert (ironic, considering the relative innocence of the Avett Brothers’s song content) and were somewhat rude. As a man with a somewhat large “personal bubble” I did not enjoy the ‘dancy’ demeanor of the crowd. But I guess that is what you get at a Jam band festival.

Despite the crowd, it was an unforgettable show. If you ever get the chance to see the Avett Brothers, whether surrounded by hippies, hipsters or something in between, do it.

 

The Avett Brothers | live on Austin City Limits

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Tonight I saw the Avett Brothers live for the very first time. In light of this monumental occasion, I was thinking of my favorite recorded Avett Brothers performance | their set on Austin City Limits from a few years back. The emotion and intensity are pure live Avett, which I can now say I have experienced first hand (review to come in the next couple of days). This the song “When I Drink”, to see the entire Austin City Limits set click the “watch full episode” link below:

Watch the full episode. See more Austin City Limits.

Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit | Live Review

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Jason Isbell at The Castle Theatre 5.25.11 | Overall: A

Locally, live music of any quality is limited and honestly few and far between. Well, that is, before The Castle Theatre came under new ownership about 9 months ago. Since then Bloomington-Normal has seen a resurgence in quality live music including: Alejandro EscovedoThe Old 97′s, The Bottle Rockets, and more. Most recently was Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit last Wednesday night.

The Band: A+

Hailing from Muscle Shoals, Alabama, Jason Isbell gained his Americana stripes as a co-songwriter in the alt-country giant The Drive-By Truckers between 2003-05. Since then he has been touring hard and recording hard-working to carve his own path in the Alt-country world. His intense touring schedule leads him everywhere from big venues to dive bars, and somewhere in between was The Castle Theatre his in Blo-No.

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David Bazan | New Album Streaming Free

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Wolves At The Door- David Bazan

This is the first track off of former Pedro The Lion frontman’s newest album “Strange Negotiations”, his second album after splitting with “Pedro”. The entire album is streaming free on David Bazans Facebook. Bazan’s solo career has been track after track of an introspective and melancholy expression of heartache and loss of faith cumulating in sad, yet beautiful sound. And this album seems to be no different. In a recent article on NPR, Bazan talks about his ability to finally be able to openly write about his relationship with God, its deterioration and his drinking habit|

“When the band sort of broke up and simultaneously the big questions of faith came up to the surface, and I had to start admitting to myself what the state of my faith was, actually — that drinking habit was there in place, and started serving as a coping mechanism,” Bazan says. “I don’t know the psychology, and I liked getting as drunk as possible and losing time — trying to get blacked out.”

“This record is me going with my gut and expressing that bitterness [at Christianity],” Bazan says, “but it’s expressing all the reasons I want to dismiss the people I’m talking about on the record. In the end, I don’t feel right about doing that; that’s not the way forward.” – Bazan

(Read entire post Here at NPR.org)

Bazan’s first album ‘Curse Your Branches” was an emotional rollercoaster , full of beauty and pain. If anything can be expected of Bazan, musically, it is a refinement and growth in that expression. Listen to the entire album free here for a limited time| David Bazan | Strange Negotiations

Week 5 | The Discipline of Sojourning

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Listen to ‘The Discipline of Sojourning’ here

JD Bridges spoke this week at Charis Community Church on the Discipline of Sojourning (you’d do well to follow @JDBridges on twitter) as part of the current 7 week sermon series we are running though at Charis Community Church. A concurrent devotional series for the week has been constructed to go along with the series. This format is encouraging growth in belief and understanding of the Gospel. If you go to Charis, this should be a helpful tool for you to grow in gospel maturity. If you do not go to Charis, but want to follow along, please join us as we go through this devotional series!

Week 5: Practicing Grace

(The Discipline of Mission) Continue reading

Artist Profile| The Roots

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Some bands just flat-out do not deserve to be popular. Period. Like Oasis, I mean, really, anyone could’ve written ‘Wonderwall’, it’s trite and unoriginal. And some popular music is just raunchy, exploitive and devoid of art. And then sometimes bands are popular because they are undeniably brilliant. That’s the Roots: hip hop at it’s finest.

The Band


The Roots are a hip hop  band. A term very few musical acts have been able to claim in the short (35ish years) history of hip hop. Made up of predominantly of  ?uestlove (drummer) and Black Thought (MC) (the middle two in the picture) and a cast of talented guitarists, bassists and drummers surrounding them. They have been playing together since the late 80′s and like any good group have an eclectic range of influence. Questlove played in several rock and roll bands before playing with the Roots and many of the groups members have been key players on the black rock and roll scene. All of this comes together to make an original and accessible sound that has influenced hip-hop significantly, for example, Lil Wayne and Atmosphere(among others) have both started playing and recording with live bands. Kind of like how everyone started using giant drum kits after Rush got big. You might know the Roots these days as the house band from Jimmy Kimmel’s late night talk show. And a side note, follow @questlove on twitter, he’s incredibly interesting.

The Sound

As noted, the Roots have an original sound stemming from the brilliant minds of Questlove and Black Thought as well as a plethora of influences. But on a simpler level, the Roots have amazing flow and beats/hooks that get stuck in your head and don’t want to come out. This song is essential Roots, you listen to the first 8 seconds and you’ll get sucked in|

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The Harold Camping Aftermath| The Church & the Culture

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Obviously, Harold Camping is wrong, there was no rapture, there were no giant earthquakes and Jesus did not in fact come back. And let’s be honest, nobody is really all that surprised at this, Anyone who has read any bible and has even the most basic understanding of healthy evangelical theology knows that “rapture-talk” is hogwash and tomfoolery. So it was pretty much Camping and his followers freaking out and everyone else shrugging their shoulders. And in the last week or so Camping’s campaign picked up some major twitter and word-of-mouth coverage for the sheer silliness of it all. As much as has been joked about by both Christians and non-Christians (Guilty. But to be fair, rapture jokes are pretty funny) there is some grave seriousness to this issue. This has the opportunity to bring out the gospel or hide the gospel to two particular groups of people.

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Choosing A Hill To Die On | The Emir Caner Apology

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In the last few days, I have been following the reactions and results of the slander that Truett-McConnell College president Emir Caner tweeted concerning the Acts 29 Network. If this is all news to you, read the tweet below and let me lay out a quick back story|

Caner is very culturally different from the Acts 29 Church Planting Network and he perceives A29 as “liberal”,”vulgar” and “worldly” and his tweet was a jab at the Acts 29 network because of our difference from his culture. Needless to say this caused a social media uproar. Many Acts 29 members and friends publicly called Caner to repent and apologize. In the past few days this “twitter controversy” has gained some significant attention, including a biblical rebuke on Justin Taylor’s blog| Between Two Worlds. And so recently Dr. Caner has issued a statement on his website continuing the discussion. His statement was this|

“I have come to realize over the past few days that Driscoll’s vulgarity is far too serious an issue to simply put out a satirical tweet.  While it is easy to find Driscoll crossing the line (see articles by John MacArthur and Cathy Mickels) it should not be likewise with me, and for that I apologize”

A lot can be said of this statement. What is clear here is this, it is framed in such a way as to illicit reactions and fights from Acts 29 friends and members.

Caution!

Alright fellow Acts 29/Young, restless, reformed/new calvinists/whatever the kids are calling us these days, this is another test. The waters are murky here, and personally, I am possibly more taken aback by this statement than the initial tweet. It would be SO easy to rip him to shreds on the blogosphere and twitter, but it still holds true that people outside of the movement are still watching us. Our reactions have to be just as gospel-centered, level-headed and gracious.

Choose Your Hill To Die On|

Obviously I disagree with his statement, and I do not think that Driscoll crosses the line (whatever the “line” is) and I think this statement is still meant to be a grenade launched by Caner at Acts 29. But I also understand that there is nothing I can do about it. Caner wants to start a war, and I think the most prudent thing we can do is act like Switzerland, and stay out of it. There are a lot of battles to fight as a young movement looking to accomplish big things, spending time on this foolishness will do nothing but cause casualties and make us look bad as a movement.

Keep On Keepin’ On

This is a distraction, and Caner wants to keep it going. I would argue we do not have time to keep fighting with Dr. Caner. My suggestion is refer questions about this back to previous posts (like Justin Taylor’s), say hi to Emir when we see him in the hallway and keep planting churches & preaching the gospel. We’ve gotta keep on keepin’ on, because the gospel is of first importance. So this is the last that GCC will cover the whole Caner ordeal (unless something else wild happens, but I doubt that) because there are much more pressing things to be written about, like Jesus (and the new Wilco album, scheduled for a fall release!!!).

Tim Keller | Repentance

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In light of recent events concerning a certain university president slandering a certain church planting network that I happen to be a part of on a certain social networking site, I began thinking a bit more about repentance. At first I was thinking about how Emir Caner should repent…then I realized I wanted to hurt him verbally and possibly in a cage fight, and was hit with the realization that I need to repent. A lot.

I am not a great ‘repenter’, I usually put up a nasty fight. But this whole Caner fiasco made me realize that I can be just as big a jerk, probably more so than Caner in a lot of ways. And leave it to the wonderful Dr. Timothy Keller to confront my idols and instruct me. This article entitled “All of Life is Repentance” is a fantastic resource| (Click here to open on another window)

“God give me a deep humility and a burning love, a well guided zeal and a single eye, and then let men and devils do their worst! -George Whitefield

Click here to view entire .PDF