Archives for category: indie

Somehow, I’ve joined a wonderful crew of friends in launching a new podcast, The Shape of a New Thing to Come.

Jason has been a lifeline to me in so many ways. As many pastors know, life and ministry in a church context can be an isolating experience. There was a point several years ago when I felt adrift for a number of reasons. I felt compelled to reach out to Jason because I had read about the intentional community he led here in San Diego and was drawn to our common love of DIY punk and hardcore. I still remember fondly the first lunch we shared at Sipz (yes, with a “z”!). Finding a kindred spirit — in life, ministry, and music — made all the difference for me.

Speaking of kindred spirits, if you listen to this first episode, you will hear a moment of what I can only describe as profound serendipity when my new friend Adam and I connect over our mutual love for Seam. This blog, and pretty much all of my social accounts, are named after an album by Seam called Headsparks. So, when I found out that Adam used to run Seam’s MySpace page, this basically confirmed our music-nerd-best-friend status!

Check out the playlist we curated for this first episode:

Come join us on our Facebook page as we build a community celebrating punk, hardcore, and new faith communities! We’d love to hear from you.


With a name like “Destroy This Place” and sporting a font in the title sequence that might feel at home on an Earache Records album cover, no one would blame you for being ready to toss up some metal hornz as you queued up this track, Graves.

Don’t let the font fool you, though, friends.

This is 90s Chapel Hill indie rawk bliss, taking the torch from Superchunk (not Torche).

Fear the deer, support the D:

[h/t: Jason Evans]

An already wonderful Beirut song beautifully reimagined by Kishi Bashi for a string quartet.

Songs that speak this deeply to me inevitably turn my thoughts toward the music of our worship as followers of Jesus. We don’t need soaring chorus/delay-soaked electric guitars to create anthems of longing, beauty, and connection (although I’m certainly not opposed to tipping our hats to The Edge’s guitar electronic-wizardry).

Also makes me think I should’ve stuck with violin past middle school.

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And, just for reference, the original by Beirut:

I still haven’t caught one of their notoriously ear-splitting shows live, but My Bloody Valentine has just released their first album in decades.

While this track might not be Only Shallow (but, really, what is?), MBV seems to be back in fine, shoegazing form. Observe for yourself:

Droney guitars, buried vocals, swirling fuzz — let the mopey rejoice!

Clearly, blogging has not been a favorite of mine this year (although I should resolve to commit myself to more regular writing in the new year. I need to take a Buddy the Elf kind of approach to blogging: I just like to blog. Blogging’s my favorite.)

While this was a bad year for apocalyptic predictions, it was a good year for movie explosions. And my enjoyment of films is almost always directly proportional to the number of onscreen pyrotechnics. Three cheers for The Avengers, Looper, and The Dark Knight Rises. I greatly enjoyed watching Wreck-It Ralph with my family, and trying to explain all of the old-school gaming references to my daughter.

2012 was also a good year for old guys getting the band back together for the purpose of melting faces.

I missed Refused the first time around  back in the late 90s, but managed to catch them twice this year. I even managed to keep both my contact lenses in for the second show! Their genuine gratitude at being given a second chance to perform and their energetic approach to playing reminded me why I love punk rock.

Quicksand played a short, but mean set at the FYF Fest — it was worth kicking around in the dust to catch them (I’m really stoked to see them again in January!).

And, while it wasn’t the Drive Like Jehu reunion show I’ve been pining away for, I was blown away by SD’s own Hot Snakes at the Casbah. It took two drummers to maintain the intensity of their barn-burning punk set.

Not all my live music events were reunions shows, though. There was also the Christmas Unicorn:

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And now, a few of my favorite albums released in 2012, alphabetically:

 151a, by Kishi Bashi

Perhaps you’ve heard his song in that Microsoft ad? Multi-instrumental indie bliss. Always love supporting Asian Americans creating amazing music.

Violins + delay pedal + toss that beat in a garbage can, below!

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Bloom, by Beach House

So sleepy! Bloom’s dreamy shoegaze-y slow jams should bring you back to the 90s, in a good way.

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Swing Lo Magellan, by Dirty Projectors

Jangly, disjointed, frustrating. I don’t always like my music difficult, but when I do, Dirty Projectors.

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Shields, by Grizzly Bear

Headline: Indie bands have a hard time making money! Wait, that’s not news at all.

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S/T, by Monsters Calling Home (now Run River North)

My friend Wayne writes eloquently about why MCH/RRN matters.

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My Head is an Animal, by Of Monsters and Men

Are these Icelandic sprites the reason for MCH’s name change? Their songs make me want to knit an octopus sweater.

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Wrecking Ball, by Bruce Springsteen

If the Boss releases an album, I’m not saying no. Americana, and then some.

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Silver & Gold, by Sufjan Stevens

I’m a Christmas unicorn. You’re a Christmas unicorn, too.

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And a few that I’ve liked so far (but haven’t had a chance to sit down with): Metz, Future of the Left, and Japandroids. More noise!

Monsters Calling Home is a phenomenally talented group of Asian American musicians from the Los Angeles area. My family has been listening to their EP since I caught them live at UCSD for a LiNK benefit concert.

I hear echoes of Arcade Fire, Stars, Local Natives, and Beirut in MCH’s sound (which I’ve been using to try and reprogram my daughter’s proclivity towards certain kinds of awful, soul-stealing pop music. Don’t get me wrong: I love me some Since U Been Gone, but some of these easy-listening barefoot acoustic guitar crooners are a bridge too far.), and yet a unique sound all their own.

The other day, as we were driving to school in the morning and singing along to the MCH track Growing Up, my daughter and I had a great conversation about faith, courage, and what it means to pursue God’s dreams for us.

From Growing Up:

I used to close my eyes to what stirred under my bed
Now they’re open wide to the monsters in my head
Instead of claws they whisper lies, sinking fear in quiet steps
So I will fight in the light till i give my final breath

My daughter asked me about who was whispering lies, was it Satan? Is Satan the enemy we have to fight? Yes, yes, the devil means to steal and destroy, but we don’t have to be afraid. Jesus has conquered sin and death and He intends to restore everything that is broken in this world.

We then talked about what might be whispering in our ears to distract us from living out God’s dream for the world. My daughter: Temptation? Maybe like if you’re going to give money for something important and you see a really cool shirt and want to buy it instead?

Then I asked her if she thought it would always be easy to follow God’s dreams for our lives. After a thoughtful pause, she replied, “No. It won’t be easy. It wasn’t easy for Noah. God wanted him to do something great, but it was hard work and people laughed at him. He might have been discouraged, but he did it.”

I pray that my daughter never loses the fight in her for Christ’s healing in this broken world.

She completed her third-grade science fair project recently: “Can the sun’s energy be used to purify water?” She diligently set up the experiments, took careful notes, and crafted a colorful and informative trifold board display.

But what she was most excited about was helping those affected by the world water crisis — the one billion people who don’t have access to clean water, the millions who die every year from water-related disease, and the countless children who cannot get an education because they spend so much time getting water (which is often dirty, anyways). I don’t know if she’ll become a scientist, but I’m so proud that she was excited to run this experiment in hopes of helping people.

She passed out over 100 information cards as part of her report to her schoolmates, with links to Living Water International and charity: water with ways her friends could join this fight.

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Check out this video for Growing Up, from Monsters Calling Home (and catch them on tour if they’re in your neighborhood). It’s a feat of indie-magic to make LA seem dreamy!

I was out at dinner with my eight-year old daughter earlier this week, when some generic, Nickelback-ish schlock-rock started playing over the restaurants’s speakers. She turned to me and asked, “Daddy, is this praise music?”

Simultaneously, I was beaming with pride at her discerning ears (she’s a Kings of Convenience kind of girl) and horrified at the state of CCM / praise & worship music (for cranking out so many bland soundalike “hits”).

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