Music

10 Albums That Shaped My Youth

I pulled out 10 CDs that were either my most treasured or most listened-to recordings of the period from about 1995-2000 (more or less my high school years). They are the albums that comforted me most in the tumultuous adolescent years, the albums that taught me how to truly love music.

Christian Hipster Music: A YouTube History

Last week on the Hipster Christianity Facebook page, I posted YouTube videos from the last 4 decades of "Christian hipster" music, or music that was at least pivotal in the ultimate development of today's culture of hipster Christianity. Here they are, in chronological order... Enjoy!

CCM Albums of the 90s That Make Christian Hipsters Nostalgic

A lot of Christian hipsters today were raised in the evangelical Christian subculture in the 90s. Thus, while most of them have completely abandoned CCM by now, they still look fondly and nostalgically (with a smidge of irony) upon the Christian music they were reared on. Here are 20 albums that Christian hipsters today love to listen to for a trip down memory lane. What would you add to this list?

Holy Week Playlist

I don't really listen to contemporary Christian music, but I LOVE hymns and older Christian spirituals. And during Lent and especially during Holy Week, I've been retuning to these sacred songs--some old, some new--that speak of Christ's passion and our hope. I've compiled a playlist of some of my favorites this year, most of which can be purchased on iTunes.

Best Albums of 2009

It's been a good year for music, and a good decade. 2009 ended with some truly forward-thinking genre development (glo-fi/chillwave) and genre resurgence (shoegazer), and an overall spirit of musical innovation that makes me excited to see what the next decade has in store. It was hard to pick my top ten this year (and any of my honorable mentions could easily have made the top ten), though the #1 was never in doubt. Anyway, here are my picks.

50 Best Songs of 2009

It's time to commence the end-of-year list-making here on The Search... and we'll start with my picks for the best songs of the year. I've opted not to put them in any sort of order (except alphabetical), because it takes too much time to arbitrarily decide whether Neko Case (pictured above) should be #11 or #18. So here they are... 50 songs that you should definitely think about downloading!

Songs for Fall 2009

Songs for Fall 2009

Because “Autumn” in L.A. is negligible at best, I have to live my seasons vicariously through media. I tend to make music playlists, for example, to play in my car or iPod whenever I want to feel like I’m living in some crisp, fall-like place. I do this for other seasons as well. It works fairly well, I think. Anyway, the following is my “Autumn 2009″ playlist.

West and Wilson Deserve Each Other

I’m pretty sure that Kanye West and Joe Wilson have nothing in common. Kanye is a swaggerific hip-hop fashionista who wears Alexander McQueen suits and Yohji Yamamoto gloves, and whose vanity is only eclipsed by his ego. Joe Wilson is an extremely white, Southern Republican congressman who has never heard a Wu-Tang Clan song and who once voted against the removal of the confederate flag at South Carolina’s capital. But West and Wilson do have one thing in common: Both men are tactless, disrespectful opportunists.

An Early Summer Arcade Fire Reverie

An Early Summer Arcade Fire Reverie

I’ve been thinking back to “early summer” memories like Vacation Bible School, camping trips, mowing the grass twice a week, Memorial Day barbecues, the cold water of early summer pool swimming, seeing Coldplay at Red Rocks in 2003, driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with my parents last June, seeing Jurassic Park one humid afternoon in 1993 after a morning at Bill Self’s basketball camp. And the list goes on.

Top Twenty Songs of 2008

It's December, which on this blog means one thing: end-of-year lists! There will be lists for every variety of media in the weeks to come, culminating on December 29 and 31 with my top ten albums and movies, respectively. I'm kicking it off today with my pick for the 20 best songs of 2008. This list is not a collection of obvious singles or hits, but simply the best individual songs (in my opinion) that have come out in 2008. They include flashy pop dance songs, eccentric indie rock, and at least two songs from Kanye West. They were the most-played songs on my iPod in 2008, and they are all available to buy ala carte on iTunes (well worth the 99 cents). This is the ultimate 08 playlist!

My Autumn Playlist

These songs alternate between a sort of shiftless urban malaise and a midwestern harvest-time sturdiness.

There is Still Sand in My Suitcase

There is Still Sand in My Suitcase

Here in the last days of August, 2008, when hurricanes bear down, oil prices and inflation oppress the struggling among us, politics resign to divisiveness, economies falter, and hope is little more than a catch phrase, the inevitability of change is a small, but significant, consolation.

Seventeen Songs for Summer

It’s stifling hot in L.A., gas prices are surpassing $5/gallon, and the L.A. Film Festival is going on down the block in Westwood Village. This can only mean one thing: Summer is here!

In honor of this wonderful, extreme season, I’ve put together my annual summer music mix (I actually make several of these, to help pass the time in my new hour-plus commute). This year’s mix—comprised entirely of songs released within the last several months—is heavily electronic, 80s-nostalgic, more happy than morose, and a guaranteed good time.

Thanks to iTunes (and I promise they are not paying me to say this), you can locate and download these songs ala carte, with ridiculous ease. Hooray digital capitalism! Anyway, here’s the playlist. My soundtrack to the summer of ’08.

Coldplay, “Strawberry Swing” – Arguably the best overall song on Coldplay’s new album, this track—with its cheery rhythms and sunny guitar riffs—waxes nostalgic about blue skies, swings, and young love.

The Radio Dept., “Freddie and the Trojan Horse” – Sweden’s new-wave shoegazer outfit presents the perfect summer song from their wonderful new EP. It’s sweet like a popsicle.

Mates of State, “Help Help” – This bouncy, synth-bass-heavy pop gem from the husband/wife duo known as Mates of State is the best song off of their recent album, Re-arrange Us. You’ll love it, I promise.

Weezer, “The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived” – This song is a goofy good time. Borrowing a melody from a familiar Shaker hymn, Rivers Cuomo throws down a rock-opera of a pop song that features about a dozen kitschy mutations of its catchy chorus. Lots of fun. M83, “Graveyard Girl” – If you haven’t heard the new album from French electronica geniuses M83, I highly recommend you check it out. The new single, “Graveyard Girl,” is a blissful shoegazer anthem with a hilarious video (see below).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gY8iy8S0S4w]

Sigur Ros, “Festival” – My favorite song off their new album, this 9-minute opus builds from nothing to a grandiose climax that will doubtless shake the rafters in concert. Truly breathtaking.

The Notwist, “Good Lies” – The first track off this German electronic band’s new album is perfectly joyful, even in it’s solemnity. Cut / Copy, “Hearts on Fire” – Listen to this song and you’d think you were listening to New Order or something else from the dancefloor 80s. But no, this is 2008 music from Australia. And it’s super cool.

Vampire Weekend, “Mansard Roof” – The Afro-pop hipsters from NYC may be a little overrated, but their bouncy tunes, like “Mansard Roof,” are absolutely perfect for summer. Check out the summery vid:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlgNFwoApec] Wolf Parade, “California Dreamer” – What’s a summer mix without a song about California? This new Wolf Parade song (from their just-released, At Mount Zoomer) is an epic anthem that alternates between delicate balladry and headstrong rock energy.

The National, “You’ve Done it Again, Virginia” – Every summer mix needs a few somber entries, and The National is always good for that. This new song from their recent Virginia EP features more luxuriant Sufjan piano and their usual "Gatsby with a cocktail" tragic elegance.

Cat Power, “Ramblin’ (Wo)Man” – This song from her recent Jukebox album is a sweetly feminine riff on Hank Williams’ song, “Ramblin’ Man.” A jazzy, sexy song for humid summer nights.

Ladytron, “Ghosts” – Britain’s favorite electro-goth-pop band’s new album, Velocifero, is fantastic. And this song is the first breezily haunting single. See below for the trippy video:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yaEwcmrR4Q] Matt Wertz, “5:19” – This first single from Matt’s upcoming album, Under Summer Sun (to be released in August) is a lovely acoustic number with hyper-melodic hooks, perfect for summer love and heartbreak.

Fleet Foxes, “Ragged Wood” – One of the best discoveries of 2008, Seattle’s Fleet Foxes offer Beach Boys-esque harmonies with Appalachian and Irish traditional ancestry. It’s gorgeous, and the formidable “Ragged Wood” is a perfectly sweet/somber track to sample.

Nine Inch Nails, “Discipline” – For something edgier, try this fantastic new single from NIN’s The Slip—the album Trent Reznor gave away for free online this spring.

Death Cab for Cutie, “I Will Possess Your Heart” – This 8 minute song is slow to build and mostly instrumental, but there is something quite dreamy about it. Its travelogue video is a perfect accompaniment to those of us traveling abroad this summer:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq-yP7mb8UE&feature=related]