Grace Notes: Cheap Music from Amazon (November 2012)

Grace Notes is a weekly exploration by Jason Morehead of signs of common grace in the music world. We hope to alert you to wonderful music, some of which will be spiritual in nature but all of which will be unique and worthy of your attention. Each week we will share brief reviews of albums worthy of your attention and maybe a video or two.Another month, another collection of cheap, yet excellent music from Amazon. This time around, we’ll be looking at alterna-pop legends, the greatest pos … [Read more...]

What Does Spotify Really Mean for Musicians?

Damon Krukowski, of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi fame, recently wrote an editorial for Pitchfork in which he explains how musical streaming services like Spotify and Pandora have benefited him as an artist. As it turns out, they haven't done a whole lot for him.My BMI royalty check arrived recently, reporting songwriting earnings from the first quarter of 2012, and I was glad to see that our music is being listened to via these services. Galaxie 500's "Tugboat", for example, was played … [Read more...]

Dads: The New Video Game Heroes

Up until now, heroes in video games have largely been gruff, hardened, muscle-bound dudes whose lack of personality is made up for by their ability to carry an unreal amount of weapons. However, a recent Wired piece titled "Dawn of the Dad: Fathers Are the New Videogame Superhero" notes that a number of recent games -- Lost Planet 3, The Walking Dead, The Last of Us -- feature a new kind of hero: fathers (or father-like figures). Author Andrew Groen writes: That these games are arriving p … [Read more...]

Recording & Recovering Childhood in Sam Billen’s ‘Places’

Jason Morehead explores the recollections of childhood memories found in the music of Sam Billen. Last month, Sam Billen released his latest album, Places, a collection of heartfelt, softly atmospheric pop songs. Billen wears his heart on his sleeve throughout the album: Its songs are semi-autobiographical, the lyrics culled from various childhood memories ranging from the mundane (staying home sick from school) to melancholy (the death of his mother). Whereas his previous album, 2009's He … [Read more...]

Sufjan Stevens breathes some fresh air into Christmas music with “Silver & Gold”

Call me a Grinch, but there's absolutely no reason for getting into the Christmas spirit when Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet (Sorry super mega-department stores with your early Christmas decorations). But I will make an exception when it comes to Sufjan Stevens' new Christmas offering, Silver & Gold. This is the second of Sufjan's Christmas sets -- his first, Songs for Christmas, came out in 2006 -- and is a collection of nearly 60 original and traditional holiday songs.By turns … [Read more...]

Rod Dreher: “Apocalypticism is a narcotic among millions of American Christians”

On the Sunday before the presidential election, Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress used "Obama" and "Antichrist" in the same sentence. I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving t … [Read more...]

Nick Olson on the False Hope of Cryonics

Our very own Nick Olson recently published an article on ThinkChristian regarding the "renewed interest (and false hope) in cryonics". Cryonics, if you didn't know, is the process of preserving the body -- or parts of the body -- at extremely cold temperatures (think -196°C) with the hopes of reviving it at a later date. Those who submit to the process are essentially hoping to cheat death, and essentially experience a sort of immortality.Such attempts may seem foolish to Christians, since we … [Read more...]

The Paralysis of Having Too Many Cultural Choices

Today, we have more access to greater amounts of culture (books, movies, music, etc.) than any preceding generation. Devices like iPads and Kindles, streaming services for music and movies, and online retailers have placed vast amounts of information at our fingertips -- literally, in some cases. Indeed, it can be rather mindboggling, though we don't often think about it due to its ubiquity. Really, how often do we think that the iPhone in our hand can easily hold thousands of books, or tens of … [Read more...]

Blurring the Lines Between Video Games and Reality May Not Always Be a Bad Thing

In recent years, there has been considerable discussion regarding the deleterious effects of video games. Studies have linking them to various negatives, including increased levels of hostility and aggression, poor sleep and obesity, and even reckless driving. And that's not even taking into consideration claims by folks like Mark Driscoll that video games are bad from a spiritual perspective. Indeed, it often feels like there's this tacit understanding, even among gamers, that playing video gam … [Read more...]

The Painful Work of Forgiveness

I'd highly recommend that you wait until you have some time alone before reading Thomas Lake’s recent Sports Illustrated piece "The Boy They Couldn't Kill." Because trust me, unless you have a heart of stone, you will get emotional while reading Lake's account of a horrible act of cruelty and a beautiful act of forgiveness.In 2001, Rae Carruth was a promising wide receiver for the Carolina Panthers. And then he hired men to kill his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams, and his unborn son when … [Read more...]