Sunday, November 20, 2016

SF/RK Ponderings and Such

I honestly don't know how to start this thing off, so I'm just going to do it this way. I have been mulling this topic over and thinking about it for only a day, but it's something I really like thinking about and that thing is this: how much I like the songs on a couple of albums put out by a couple of my favorite artists. A bunch of us, myself included, just recently (10 days ago at the time of my writing this actually [it ended about this time too {~11:00-11:30 p.m.}]) attended a concert, as part of their joint Looking for America tour at the New Orleans House of Blues headlining Switchfoot and Relient K. These two are arguably two of the most popular names in Christian music or offshoots or alternatives thereof (heck, they both [moreso Switchfoot as far as I know] are known in the mainstream). It's almost been two years since we went to go see just Relient K, well they were the only BIG name playing and they were the headline for the concert that was part of their MMHMM 10th anniversary tour, and that was when I truly got hooked on them; when I say "get hooked on them," I mean I religiously listen to ALMOST exclusively that album in particular to get immensely familiar with it and incorporate it into my being. As far as Switchfoot is concerned, I've known about them for about as long as Relient K (since I was about 12 or 13, really [I just never "listened"to their music {which low key, I really regret because both are absolutely phenomenal groups}]). It was this summer when I started working at Delta Pathology that I "really got into" Switchfoot, just as the concert was the same for Relient K, and that was specifically for their The Beautiful Letdown album. What really fueled this was that a tad prior to my getting hired by Delta, I found out both SF and RK (sorry, guys, but I'm just going to type their initials now) were both going on tour together and that in turn meant they both churned out new albums respectively. Truth be told, I listened to both of them in full before the concert at some point in the months leading up to, but I didn't listen to them as religiously as I had for MMHMM and The Beautiful Letdown for a few reasons: (1) MMHMM and The Beautiful Letdown spoiled me in that those two were the first albums from their respective artists that I listened to and fell in love with and so I have that "first exposure bias" (let's call it that for now, but I'm positive there's an actual psychological term for it) for those two albums that I'll tragically yet purposely set the standard for subconsciously for whenever I listen to future albums released by the two bands. That's not to say that any new material is bad or worse by any measure, they could even be better for all I know, it's just I'm more familiar with the older material that somehow sits as "the standard," (2) because of my familiarity with those two albums, I just love those sounds and I just want/wanted to marinate in them because I'm a real creature of nostalgia, the familiar, and the old and I really need to force myself to look at new, new in terms of merely my being exposed to the item or items in question, things, and (3) I was allowed to have earphones in while I worked to play music to listen to on my phone while I worked and I took as much advantage of that as possible and THIS is where my soaking in The Beautiful Letdown comes into play. Now, I've said ALL OF THAT just to come to this point: I've listened to both MMHMM and The Beautiful Letdown backwards and forewards and have internalized most of if not all the lyrics both offer AND because I'm a guy for rank and file, I'm going to give my take on a ranking list of the songs for both albums. Before I get into it, seriously, Where the Light Shines Through and Air For Free are great albums so please listen to them in full (I bring them up because those are the new albums that the two bands are currently for as of now being released by SF and RK respectively) because they're kicking.Just a disclaimer, just because a song may be the lowest number on the list doesn't mean that the song is bad, in fact I may love it (truth be told, I love all the songs on both albums and I LOVE both albums and I will be singing them and my praises of them until the day I die), there would just be songs I prefer over it for one reason or another and this applies to certain mixes such as acoustic versus non-acoustic or a remix/alternative versus a non-remix/non-alternative (those will be accounted for on these lists). Also, my perspective of these albums is skewed because I love them and I know they're popular, but I'm not sure how popular they are, BUT (again) I'm sure that both MMHMM and The Beautiful Letdown are arguably the most popular albums for both respective bands. I could be wrong, and some may offer their differing opinions without my dissent, but that's how I see them. Without another tangent to go on, let's get started shall we?

I'm going to start with the album, and therefore group, that I started with being RK and MMHMM in its original form and not the 10th anniversary form (14 songs versus 23 or so songs respectively). I will list them from not-favorite all the way down to favorite; mind you it won't be easy especially towards the "climax" of the list. I will also list where on the disc/in the album the song lies for the sake of reference. I'm listening to this album while I write this by the way and I'm probably going to do the inverse for SF and The Beautiful Letdown.

14.) The Only Thing Worse Than Beating a Dead Horse Is Betting on One (Track #5 - I put this here because even though I enjoy it [and it's the only song that I only know half of because wtf is that rap at the beginning {low key I like it and think it's cool}] I don't think it entirely fits the rest of the album because of the former part of the song)
13.) My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend (Track #6 - This song is fun to sing to, like the rest of them, but the only fault I have with it isn't its fault: my girl doesn't have an ex so I just can't relate, but it does make me reflect on my relationship with her and make me happy that I scooped her up/she chose me before any other fellow could've waltzed onto the scene)
12.) Maintain Consciousness (Track #11 - I love the jams and nonstop talking/singing flow this song brings and I've nothing against it, I just have most of its peers higher than it)
11.) Life After Death & Taxes (Failure II) (Track #13 - This song knows how to rock and I love the message it brings)
10.) Which to Bury; Us or the Hatchet? (Track #8 - I know a couple people seriously love this song for many reasons [the nature of a friendship or the general "bipolar" nature of the song to name a couple] and I appreciate that)
9.) High of 75 (Track #3 - this song just straight up plays the metaphysical card to perfection and has a profound effect of almost always bringing a smile to my face while I listen and daydream to this song)
8.) This Week the Trend (Track #12 - this song just feels right and this is why it sits at the top of the bottom 50%)
7.) I So Hate Consequences (Track #4 - a serious come-to-grips message with a decent tone to it puts this song at the bottom of the top 50% for the album in my eyes)
6.) Let It All Out (Track #9 - this song has a wonderful message that I love to pieces and brings the feels, I just prefer the feels that its cousin a couple places ahead puts on me)
5.) The One I'm Waiting For (Track #1 - it's one of the more notable and recognizable songs of the album and of the songs RK have done in general and it strikes a particular "rock" chord that I enjoy)
4.) When I Go Down (Track # 14 - This song just brings the feels for me and it hurts that it's not in my top 3, but top 5 suits me fine)
3.) More Than Useless (Track #7 - This song brings the heavy and the right message I really wish I heard while I was a teenager and the crap I put myself through during my high school years)
2.) Be My Escape (Track #2 - This would be my number one if it weren't for the reason I give for my #1; Be My Escape is simply one of my favorite introspective jam songs of all-time)
1.) Who I Am Hates Who I've Been (Track #10 - As if this is a surprise?! This song is so special to me because it's the only song of RK's that I've known about besides the Sadie Hawkins Dance since I was in middle school and it just hits me right in the heart every time and will forever hold the number one spot in my heart; that and it balances just the right amount of light and heavy [referencing Air For Free right there] tones so much to perfection; I'm a sucker for very heavy music, but RK hit a very nice sweet spot for both the heavy and the light and this song is a culmination of that [honorable mentions to Be My Escape, Which to Bury; Us or the Hatchet?, More Than Useless {the heavy king of the album}, I So Hate Consequences, and Life After Death and Taxes (Failure II)])

Here's a previous ranking I gave of the album back on the 9th of December of 2014 and you can definitely see that stuff has moved since then:
1.) Who I Am Hates Who I've Been (#10)
2.) More Than Useless (#7)
3.) When I Go Down (#14)
4.) This Week the Trend (#12)
5.) Be My Escape (#2)
6.) I So Hate Consequences (#4)
7.) The One I'm Waiting For (#1)
8.) My Girl's Ex-Boyfriend (#6)
9.) High of 75 (#3)
10.) Maintain Consciousness (#11)
11.) Which to Bury: Us or the Hatchet? (#8)
12.) Life After Death & Taxes (Failure II) (#13)
13.) The Only Thing Worse Than Beating a Dead Horse is Betting on One (#5)
14.) Let it All Out (#9)


Now that I've mapped out how I feel about MMHMM, it's time to get to what honestly, is my preferred/favorite album between the two, being The Beautiful Letdown by SF, (ironically enough, I've been intimate with this album for only about 5 months or so compared to the 2 years of the other) and this is in part due to 2 reasons: (1) this album is more bass heavy and easier to groove to in my opinion and can be heavier in a few parts (which again I have an affinity for) in both the "effectiveness" of the lyrics and the sway of the music and (2) this album just simply inspires a lot of nostalgia in me (yes, it is and I am that simple). I will be ranking the songs on the deluxe version of this album (in part that's the only version that Spotify offers/the one I'm just used to listening to and also in part, the first album list just feels incomplete to me if we're not including Monday Comes Around, the alternative version of Dare You to Move, and the acoustic version of Meant to Live). So now without further ado, LEGGO!

14.) Ammunition (Track #4 - It's a solid jammy-rock song with a fantastic reflective societal message; I'd rank it higher, but I [as I've stated a couple times before in other places to denote the same thing] simply like the sound of the other songs more than it)
13.) More Than Fine (Track #3 - This track brings some nice light-hearted jams to the table that's just absolutely virulent and I love it)
12.) Adding to the Noise (Track #10 - Got to love songs that analyze socio-economic and cultural effects of technology on people. It straight up tells you that if it's not contributing positively [adding to the noise as the title says it is], then you should turn off whatever is playing it. It's awesome that it was written with such in-depth awareness, I find.)
11.) Monday Comes Around (Track #12 - This track brings some really groovy jams to the table that takes me to the beach in my mind's eye on the shores of Southern California and we all know that's a groovy place to be; it also deals with honesty, identity, and time management [if you're being hyper-realistic] if that's also your deal [as is mine] so that's nice)
10.) On Fire (Track #9 - It's a worship song... it's a BEAUTIFUL worship song. Enough said)
9.) Twenty-four (Track #11 - It's another worship song that I find just slightly more BEAUTIFUL than the previous entry on the list.)
8.) Meant to Live (Track #1 - Please refer to the explanation for the next entry on the list to briefly explain this one)
7.) Meant to Live - Acoustic Version (Track #14 - I really think that this is the way the song was meant to played and listened to [I know you see what I did there {low key it was completely on accident when I first thought of it}] and this song just resonates with me in general, this rendition just does it better in my opinion)
6.) Redemption (Track #6 - I love this song because it speaks to the reality of a walk with Christ [Twenty Four, On Fire, Dare You to Move just to name a few also do this as well]; it is ranked higher than some and lower than some simply because of its musical presentation [not like its a problem, but as we all understand is merely a personal preference on an artistic venture])
5.) Gone (Track #8 - This is a wake up call song and I love wake up call songs [the whole album is just FILLED with them for crying out loud] and it merely states that time is an extremely precious and finite resource we should do our hardest to not squander [among a couple of things that it talks about explicitly or implicitly]; that and I love its sound... well, that AND the bridge that leads into the end of the song is SUPERB and is a blast to just spontaneously burst into singing)
4.) This is Your Life (Track #2 - This is truly a deeply thought-provoking, heart-moving, spirit-convincing song right here. Over the couple of years [this song and Dare You to Move are exceptions to what I said earlier as I've known about these two songs for a few years {the latter more than the former though}] and the volumes that it speaks to me and the wisdom the Lord imparts through it is absolutely tangible. It breaks my heart that it's not my number three on this list because number three just slightly edges it out, but you'll see why in a moment)
3.) The Beautiful Letdown (Track #7 - There's too much for me to say to sing the praises of this track; let's start with it's a joyful cry of the acceptance of the human condition of sin and wrong doing and mistakes and that we can do better by the help of Another [being Jesus Christ by "carrying a cross and a song to where I don't belong"] with the acknowledgement that this is not our home. That's just great, right? We're sick, restless, wandering creatures in need of permanent shelter and healing of our blight; I said earlier that this song is a "joyful cry" and it is in that telling God we happily accept that we are dirty and that allows us to be humbled so that he may cleanse, sanctify, and root us where we ought to be, but until then, we'll always collectively be The Beautiful Letdown)
2.) Dare You to Move - Alternative Version (Track #13 - Please refer to the reason for place #1 and it'll be the same with this spot; the only differing factor is I prefer the sound of this rendition just SLIGHTLY less than the other. It's funny because just as I was finishing up talking about that rendition in the last sentence, that same song started to play <3)
1.) Dare You to Move (Track #5 - Although I COULD write an entire paragraph [or book] on why I adore this song, I'll keep it sweet: the message is simply just so ingrained in my heart and if it can also bring me to tears while  I think about all of my mistakes and accomplishments or I'm feeling nostalgia for nostalgia's sake, then it earns some serious cookie points from me. This song has, in part and for lack of better words, helped give my life some added meaning and it is something I treasure and just hold so dear to my inner being. My feels have feels have feels that feel feels because of it.)

So this is one way of looking at the album as a whole, but to get a more clear picture of how I rate the individual songs as unique entities while discounting any extra renditions, I will now produce a second list for this album for you to truly get a look at how I see these songs "for real."

12.) Ammunition (Track #4)
11.) More Than Fine (Track #3)
10.) Adding to the Noise (Track #10)
9.) Monday Comes Around (Track #12)
8.) On Fire (Track #9)
7.) Twenty-four (Track #11)
6.) Meant to Live (Track #1)
5.) Redemption (Track #6)
4.) Gone (Track #8)
3.) This is Your Life (Track #2)
2.) The Beautiful Letdown (Track #7)
1.) Dare You to Move (Track #5)
*Disclaimer: I am fully aware that "Dare You to Move" is not a unique native on this album, but is in itself a remix of its predecessor on SF's Learning to Breath album called on there by "I Dare You to Move". Between the three renditions of the song, I value the original as highly as I do the non-alternative version on this album because they both, not saying the alternative doesn't strike the same chords (just not as hard, as the other two, but still very hard because of what this song means to me), do the same thing to me but in different ways with their differing, unique tones. I seriously love this song/these songs. <3

Alright, guys. There you have it. My takes on both of these albums and as many musings and feelings I can currently muster on them in the dead of night/dark of the day. Again, please remember that ranking these things wasn't easy in the slightest and even slightly hurts to visualize things this way, but don't worry; I just need to stop overthinking these albums and deconstruct this product in my mind and everything will be as it should be in this respect. Please tell me what you thought of my list either in the comments, or if you know me personally and have my number (which let's be honest, you do) feel free to text me or whatever. Thanks for reading this long, atypical post of mine! See you next time and hopefully with a new iteration of my story "The Seven."

Monday, July 4, 2016

Fury and Lamentation

                On the Eastern shores of a dark, warmongering nation on a dark continent on a dark world stood a tall, stone bunker. Although it is stone on the exterior, it has a rather homely interior. However, just about all furniture and just about anything precious to be named has been utterly destroyed and obliterated and smashed to smithereens. It’s jagged, outside faces are only slightly illuminated by the brief flashes of crimson lightning which adds a mere touch of needed contrast against the mighty gloom of the realm.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Untitled Worship Song

Even as my soul's besieged
You never let go of me
This life gives me more than I can bear
But You insist, and I comply, that I leave myself in Your care

Though this world and the enemy continue to belittle and push me from You
Your still, small voice forever holds me and pulls me through
Anguish, torment, and ruin ravage my fertile soils,
But continuously You open Your floodgates and let flow Your healing rain!

Your mercy erases my guilt
Your grace, it satisfies me
Your faithfulness quenches my fear
Your surging joy drowns my despair
Your peace quiets my uncertainty
Your longsuffering stills my discontent
Your love can't, won't, never will fail!

When my restless heart is shattered,
Your Word binds me together, mighty Carpenter!
I must truly learn of the depth, height, and width of Your love
For I can never be lost as long as I keep my eyes on You

Your mercy erases my guilt
Your grace, it satisfies me
Your faithfulness quenches my fear
Your surging joy drowns my despair
Your peace quiets my uncertainty
Your longsuffering stills my discontent
Your love can't, won't, never will fail!

You fashioned me in Your glorious visage, Yahweh, my Creator
You destroyed my iniquity and made me Yours, Jesus, my Master
You transform me into Your majestic likeness, Spirit of God
Your tower, fortress, shadow, wings, wind, light, all comfort me and are the safest places I can dwell
Forever, You bind me to Yourself and embrace me

Your mercy erases my guilt
Your grace, it satisfies me
Your faithfulness quenches my fear
Your surging joy drowns my despair
Your peace quiets my uncertainty
Your longsuffering stills my discontent
Your love can't, won't, never will fail!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

MUSIC UPDATE

Hey guys, so I am trying to update more often this semester. Anyway I've been back at school for almost a week and classes start on Monday. So let's do some music updates. Currently (as in at this very moment) I  listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

I have been listening to a lot of Ben Howard, James Bay's new ep, and most exciting: the new NEEDTOBREATHE album Rivers in the Wasteland. It's sooo good! It was the most exciting part of the summer.


(That is cool cover art!)

It is my favorite album of the year. Mostly because it's NEEDTOBREATHE, but also because it's a great album. More heart Less Attack is possibly one of my favorite songs.

So you need to most definitely go take a listen to the album. Hopefully I can go to the show in Baton Rouge. That should be exciting. OK bye.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Hope that Goes Unseen

Heather here. Greetings from an overwhelmed soon-to-be college student! After being gently encouraged all summer to put some time back into my writing, I've completed a total of one (1) piece. It's short, but it's on a theme that runs deep through all my work and through my very soul. I could write forever on this, but for now I'll post what little I have. Enjoy:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Zion

Zion
I'm scared out of my mind; I'm alone; I'm thirsty; I'm wounded. I'm wandering in this barren wasteland. I'm so weak that I stumble and fall to the ground a couple of times every few minutes. I don't want to die, but I feel as if I don't want to live either. I long to return home and return to those I love, but I can't. My darkness, chains, and debts wait for me there and chase me even here. They're no more than a day behind me in travel.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Elysha, The Awakened (The Seven)



Elysha, the Awakened
I'm floating in the air. I'm in this large, never ending space of whiteness. In front of me, it looks like some girl is sleeping in this bed. It's weird; the angle I'm at makes it seem like I'm above her. From time to time, she looks at peace and at other times, it looks like she's having a nightmare. I pity her. As I start to feel sorry all the more for her, I start to cry. One of those tears drops off of my cheek and splashes on her forehead. It was almost as if the sensation of splashing my face to wake myself up coursed through me..... As soon as this happens, I see this flash of light. I open my eyes bashfully as they still seem heavy with sleep. “Had a nice dream, princess?” asks one of my comrades.