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Friday, December 23, 2011

Top Music of the Year

I listen to a lot of music and it often guides my moods and vice versa. This doesn't make me unique, I know. If you threatened to hit my hand hand with a hammer if I didn't tell you my favorite music this year, this is what I would say:

Top 5 Records of the Year

5. Ghosts Upon the Earth by Gungor
I got to see Gungor with John Mark McMillan and David Crowder*Band at Regency Ballroom in San Francisco last month and they blew my mind. I had heard "Beautiful Things" a bunch of times in the past and I enjoyed the song, but I never really paid much attention to them until their newest record. It has an ethereal feel to it and they use a ton of instruments and funky arrangements without sounding forced. The singer, Michael Gungor, has a great blog too. I love this record!

Standout song: "When Death Dies"

4. Young Love by Mat Kearney
I have listened to Mat for a long time and have seen him live several times. His last record, City of Black and White, disappointed quite a bit in my opinion. Luckily, he went back to his roots with this record. The songs are catchy and have a hip-hop feel to them like the stuff off his first record, Bullet. I love how raw it is and am happy to see him return to form.

Standout songs: "Ships in the Night," "Down," and "You Can Count On Me"

3. Simple Math by Manchester Orchestra
This record is about everything from infidelity and drinking to love and God. It's a concept record where the singer, Andy Hull, has a conversation with God and his wife...sort of. The songs flow really well together and there are some epic moments. The title track is among my favorite songs of the year and I love how much this band has progressed. Manchester is among my favorite bands so I am a bit biased, but I would have loved this record even if it was the first thing I heard from them.

Standout songs: "Simple Math" and "Pensacola"

2. Vice Verses by Switchfoot
Trendy, cool me would love to include obscure bands on this list that only I have heard of like Goateater and The Way I Type (I made those up). However, the bands I love and have loved for a long time keep putting out great stuff. Vice Verses is an amazing Switchfoot record. Jon Foreman is my favorite song writer and I love the way this record moves lyrically. Songs about justice, hope, pain and sorrow fill the songs with a sense of authenticity. I got to see them in November and they were amazing.

Standout songs: "Vice Verses," "Restless," and "Where I Belong"

1. The Reckoning by NEEDTOBREATHE
This was a pretty easy choice for me as I have been listening to this band non-stop this year. I started listening to them shortly before this record game out. Their previous record, The Outsiders, has quickly become one of my favorites ever. Although this one doesn't quite match its predecessor, The Reckoning is still incredible. I listen to it while I run and while I drive. The songs touch on topics such as revenge and God's grace. It's a Southern rock record complete with banjo and electric guitar. I seriously love it. I get to see them in March at The Fillmore with Mel-Bo and I cannot wait.

Standout songs: "Able," "The Reckoning," "White Fences," "Slumber"

Top 10 Songs of the Year
10. "We Were Made For You" - Aaron Gillespie
9. "Restless" - Switchfoot
8. "Hope Still Flies" - Five Iron Frenzy
7. "Ships in the Night" - Mat Kearney
6. "Shadows" - David Crowder Band (feat. Lecrae)
5. "Perth" - Bon Iver
4. "Slumber" - NEEDTOBREATHE
3. "Let Me Feel You Shine" - David Crowder*Band
2. "Simple Math" - Manchester Orchestra
1. "The Reckoning" - NEEDTOBREATHE

Artist of the Year
As previously stated, I cannot get enough of this band. Check out their new record and their last record. So stinkin' good.

I realized that almost everything on my lists have a "Christiany" feel this year. As Michael Gungor stated in the blog post I linked, talented and creative musicians should exist regardless of genre. I feel like a lot of the bands I chose love God, but are also dedicated to making amazing music. They use their God-given talents to produce creative art.

Most Anticipate Music of 2012 (in no particular order)

  • Relient K - I love Forget and Not Slow Down.
  • fun. - Seeing them in March. Yay.
  • House of Heroes - I hope it's more The End is Not the End than Suburba.
  • David Crowder*Band - Their final record is out January 10. It is with bittersweet anticipation that I look forward to this one.

New life!

Hello blog.
I have neglected you and I am sorry. It's just that you sort of got boring and became one of those digital picture frames. You no longer were an avenue of creativity for me. You simply became a place to post baby pictures and now you have been replaced. Facebook now serves that purpose. However, I am here to tell you that I plan on revisiting you from time to time. My primary animus will be to post movie reviews. I see a lot of movies and, like a nerd, keep track of each movie I see in a Google doc. I am here today to let you know that I will soon be posting my top movies and music from 2011 and will continue to post movies as I see them. Excited? I thought so. I saw The Artist today. Did it crack my top 10? You will have to wait and see! Talk to you soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2011


I started a video business a couple months ago. Most of my time has been spent getting stuff going with that. Check it out at www.mattervideo.com or on Facebook.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Best of 2010

2010 was a year that found me spending more time with family, filming and school, and less time blogging. In what I like to call the "real world," I think this trade off has been healthy. Tate is transitioning from a little boy to a kid, which is fun, hilarious, surreal and bittersweet. It's actually a whole lot more than that, but I didn't want to keep adding adjectives. Lyla is starting to show glimpses of the young lady she will become and it would appear as though we are in for a future of exciting highs and dramatic lows. She is an adorable young lady who demands attention. Though the blog has been all but neglected this year, in keeping with tradition, I have decided to make my annual list of best-ofs and favorites (so original, huh?). Here it goes. Actually, here are some cute recent pictures of the kids first.
Movies of the year.
I decided not to number them or place them in any specific order because my love for them varies by the day.

The King's Speech
127 Hours
Toy Story 3
True Grit
The Fighter

(Movies I have yet to see and therefore cannot rate: The Town, The Social Network, Never Let Me Go, Winter's Book)

Worst movie of the year
Remember Me (If only I could forget how awful this overly sappy, poor attempt at indie/artsy film, this thing was).

TV show(s) of the year.
Contrary to popular belief, I actually do not watch a ton of TV because time doesn't really allow it. However, there were a few shows that we made time for this year.

I can honestly say I was satisfied with the finale, especially the more I thought about it after I watched it. I started with the show from the beginning and although all of the questions weren't answered, I am content with the holes they did plug.

Friday Night Lights
Although Battlestar Galactica claims the top spot in my all-time favorite shows, FNL is not far behind. The show combines stellar acting, excellent editing, music and cinematography is a way that few shows come close to matching. I love Peter Berg's style and am not looking forward to saying goodbye to the lovely people of Dillon after this season.

The Sing Off
I suppose I could file this under my guilty pleasure category, but this show had Mel and me (yes it's me, not I) hooked for 3 weeks this winter. The people were/are freakishly talented and we were highly entertained. Looking forward to next December's installment.

Songs of the year.
I bought less music this year than in year's past, but these are the songs that were stuck in my head for a while.

"Crossfire" - Brandon Flowers
"Skeleton Bones" - John Mark McMillan
"Ten Thousand" - John Mark McMillan
"Bamboo Bones" - Against Me!
"Birds" - Deas Vail
"Boots" - The Killers
"Beautiful Things" - Gungor
"You Wouldn't Have to Ask" - Bad Books
"Carousel" - Paper Route
"Kings and Queens" - 30 Seconds to Mars (I really wish I was lying. -5 indie cool points)
"So Far Away" - House of Heroes
"I Want to be Well" - Sufjan Stevens

and my #1 song of the year...
"Far Away" - Lecrae
This songs was released as a benefit track for Haiti relief. I liked the song prior to going to Haiti in March, but it really became an anthem for me upon my arrival there. I let several Haitian people I met listen to my iPod and they all wanted to hear the song. Each time I hear it, I am brought back to Port au Prince and am reminded of the people there and the hardships they are still enduring.

Album(s) of the year.
"The Medicine" - John Mark McMillan
I know this was a re-release but I heard it for the first time in 2010 and fell in love with it. "Ten Thousand" and "Skeleton Bones" are incredible songs.

"White Crosses" - Against Me!

"My Dinosaur Life" - Motion City Soundtrack

Concert/Show of the year.

I didn't get to go to as many shows this year, but there were a couple that stood out. Mae was nostalgic. Rocky Votolato was a nice reunion, but I preferred the previous year's outdoor ranch show. Brandon Flowers was pompous and he only played for 35 minutes, but sounded good nonetheless. The runner-up for show of the year was the "Where's the Band Tour" featuring lead singers from various bands I love (Thrice, Saves the Day, Bayside, The Get Up Kids). I went to the show on January 10 with Charlie and it was incredible. Dustin Kensrue covered a Tom Waits song called "Down There By the Train" and it was probably one of the best songs I have ever heard performed live. I may have even teared up a bit. The number one show of the year had to be Sufjan Stevens though. Mel and I saw him in Oakland and it was whimsical, bizarre and wonderful.

* Dustin Kensrue, Chris Conley, Anthony Raneri, and Matt Pryor @ Slims (1.10.10)
* Rocky Votolato House Show 2 @ the Ranch (7.27.10)
* Brandon Flowers @ Slim's (8.19.10)
* Sufjan Stevens @ Paramount Theater (10.25.10)
* Mae Farewell Tour @ Bottom of the Hill (11.10.10)

Family experience of the year.
This a tie between our family Hawaii trip and Disneyland.
It was quite wonderful going to Hawaii with the family and I look forward to heading back there this year. Check out this video if you have not already.

It was almost magical taking the kids to Disneyland for the first time. They absolutely loved it and the video ended up being one of my favorite things I have edited.

Personal Experience(s) of the year.
Another tie. I did the Wildflower Triathlon in May and that was a great personal achievement after 6 long months of training. I plan to run it again this May. However, I think traveling to Haiti had the greatest lasting impact on me. I went there to film with Barley, Matt Pine, Jake and Steve Foster and I still am struck by the memories and images I captured there. The devastation was overwhelming and it has been awful to see the ongoing difficulties facing the country since the quake (poverty, cholera, violence, etc). This video is probably my favorite thing I have ever edited: