Since I was a kid, music has been important to me. All through my adolescence I was exposed to a very broad musical buffet. My mom saw my love for music and would take me to symphonies, musicals, jazz concerts, rock concerts. Where ever music, creativity and poetry were being expressed. I played in many different genres of music from Marching band and jazz band, to hardcore/ metal bands to Hip Hop groups. (yes hip hop).
My taste in music seems to be a very eclectic evolution. To say that any one album is my favorite of all time would be dishonest. What I liked to listen to a decade ago is different then what I enjoy now. What I enjoy in a decade from now will be different then what I find delight in now. However what wont change is my heart. I want a heart that’s alive and not dulled by the music I enjoy.
With that said, here are some albums that for the last couple of years seem to end up in every playlist I make:
Alexi Murdoch “Truth Without Consequence”
For years I was a huge fan of Nick Drake and his folky stylings. The one sad thing about Nick Drake, is he was so sad. I used to have him on vinyl, and I swear every listen made it rain outside. Murdoch in style is incredibly reminiscent of Drake, but with lyrics that come from a heart that’s alive. The first track “All Of My Days” is a track I play for my wife. It’s one of those sweet tracks that if I had heard it years ago before I got married, it would have been the song we danced to at our reception.
“Truth Without Consequences” has a very mellow, classic folk sound, but with a modern rock vibe subtly in the peripheral. I often find this album soothing in the background as I read on my day off, or when I take long drives through the New York country side. It’s an album that I
seem to fall more in love with every listen.
Son Lux “We Are Rising”
I have always been a fan of the surrealists. As dark as many of them are, as a young junior high student I was always drawn to the works of Salvador Dali. His famous “The Persistence of Memory” encompassed my imagination for days after I first saw it. The one man band of Son Lux, Ryan Lott, adds much of the same stimulation to my imagination. If he was a painter, he’d be a surrealist. The creative yet chaotic sounds feel very dream like yet cognizant with deep meaning at the same time.
Perhaps some of the chaotic elements, that I love, of this album can be attributed to how it was made. Ryan entered into a NPR radio contest to see who could make an entire album in one month. Lott submitted this album and won.
Songs like “All The Right Things” and “Flickers” carry the mainstream electronica sound I love, while songs like “claws”and “leave the riches” carry the forlorn, dub-step-ish, dreamland world that secure Lott as a surrealist in my opinion. Songs like “flowers” and “chase” escort you into Lott’s dream world of creative complexity. It’s here that we encounter his message. Where you don’t just hear his heart you feel it. To orchestrate the complexity of this album over the course of a month is a feat I’ve never heard of. These aren’t sloppy written songs, but powerful poetry. Download it. Even if you don’t love obscurity, its worth the listen.
Future of Forestry “Young Man Follow”
A few months ago I found myself standing at the gates of the White House in Washington DC at 2am in the morning. My connection flight had been cancelled and through a series of events I was stranded in DC for 24 hours. Those 24 hours meant I strolled our nation’s capitol praying for our nation listening to the album on repeat. I was actually a little happy to be stuck there, because I had actually wanted to spend some time praying there. However it was during that time I fell in love with this album.
Slowly, these guys have been climbing in to my all time favorite band category for about 4 years now. If we still listened to cassette tapes, the travelers album series would have been totally worn out with as much play time as I have given it. “Young Man Follow” was very similar to those 3 albums, but more grown up. I felt like this was the album the album were FOF went from cool hipster indie band, to legit musical/ song writing contender among the greatest of bands out there.
Named after a poem written by C.S. Lewis by the same name, Future of Forestry carries a Lewis-esque writing style in this album. The songs are filled with depth and whimsy, great storytelling with an ethos that is felt more than even understood at first.
This album (and the next two) you should stop everything you are doing and download it now.
Jon Foreman “Fall”
There isn’t a song writer on the planet that I presently love more than Foreman. Sure I get that I can’t say that with out saying names like Dylan, Duritz, Coburn, Springsteen, Young, etc. Oh wait actually I can, because it’s my list. What pushes it over the edge for me is that Foreman sings from a heart in love with Jesus.
This album series (he also has spring, summer, and winter) is a side project to Foreman’s normal claim to fame: The front man of the band Switchfoot.
Over and over I have listened to the song “equally skilled” talking about our brokenness in humanity, and God’s ability to love us and transform us in the midst of our weakness. Every song on this short album is more of a lyrical experience that then a song. The music is a nice deviation from the pop rock prowess of Switchfoot. It has a Jon with his guitar and a few friends playing a living room show, sort of feel.
Every song is genius. I have spent an entire 8 hour work day in my office with these 6 songs on repeat and never gotten tired of them. This album, but really the whole “seasons” series is a must own.
Pas Neos “Who Do You Say That I Am”
This album. Pause. I love this album. Some folks could accuse me of being biased, being that these two are some of my best and closest friends. Guys I hang with, play fantasy football against, minister and travel with, I even had them play behind me at a conference while I preached once. I have relationship with these guys it’s true, even still I love this album more than any others.
I remember the first time I heard U2’s “Joshua Tree” album in Junior High School. I remember what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with as we listened to the whole album all the way through in wonder through my friend’s brand new CD player. When I heard this album, I had the very same feeling. I thought I’d put it on and listen while working in my office. I froze. I was stunned by the entire album. From beginning to end this album was unbelievable. I knew I wasn’t just listening to a good album, but one of the best I had ever heard.
Bobby is a song writing genius, who much to his chagrin, I would easily pit against any of the greats. Every song has both biblical and theological depth, with an overwhelming sense of prophetic unction. (especially the song “Pharisees”) It’s obvious that each song is not merely crafted from his heart, but from the heart of Christ. The song “Myrrh” brings tears to my eyes often as we hear Jesus in the garden right before going to the cross. Even the ordering of the songs is a journey through the Gospels. one of those albums where you actually want to listen from start to finish to get the full effect of the message and lyrical flow.
The last song Ascension, I actually put on repeat sometimes. I close my eyes and think of the paradox of emotions the disciples felt on that day. Excited to see Him ascend, terrified that he’s gone, bewildered because they thought He was going to begin a military campaign against Rome, but feeling the words that Bobby belts out at the same time. The same words that give us hope today: “Hold on, Don’t lose hope, because the better days are before you now”
The musical orchestration that Caleb devises here is unreal. Rock electronia, with some dub step-ish tones, with some of the surreal melodic tones that I love. If Caleb was alive 200 years ago, he would have been a famous composer. While he doesn’t do it alone, him and Bobby are a team, his musical orchestration is truly genius. I love Ryan Lott of Son Lux, but I’d pit Caleb against his genius any day. As with Bobby, the difference is that these songs, sounds, composition come from a heart that has touched Heaven. When you submit yourself to the greatest composer of all time, you get melodies and sounds that are unreal.
What may have possibly pushed this album over the top into epic greatness is the fact that Eric Owyoung, the front man of Future of Forestry, produced this album and was apart of it. Only I think one day, on the all time list, Pas Neos will one day surpass the brilliance of FOF. Owyoung’s subtle fingerprint can be felt from time to time.
As with the last two, this album especially, you should stop reading, open up iTunes or Amazon and give this album a download. You will waste $10 on all kinds of things this week, spend it on an album that will possibly change your life. 😉