Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 > 2013

Out with the old, in with the new. It's been quite a year, friends, and certainly quiet one, digitally speaking.

On May 15th, 2013, two days after our scheduled departure for five weeks backpacking in Europe, my wife, Krystal, was diagnosed with a classical Hodgkin Lymphoma. Needless to say, by this point we were certainly not doing any backpacking. Long story short, on October 15th, 2013, after four full rounds of chemotherapy, Krystal was declared in complete clinical remission.

See! Good news! We'll just ignore the bad news that came first, right?

Like I said, quite a year. But we came out on a high note, certainly. On account of having already quit our jobs, stowed our earthly belongs, and selling our house in South Dakota, we spent six months in Arizona where we got to spend some quality time with Krystal's family during her treatment. I found work that kept me busy and the medical collectors at bay, but unfortunately left me in a clay- and studio-less state. In October, my wife was offered a job in Northern Colorado. With the clean bill of health in tow, we returned to the Rocky Mountain State and are making a home (and studio) in Loveland, CO.

[That really is the shortest version of the story. Mayhaps there is more to be shared later. This is it for now. Thanks for understanding.]

So: back on the road to having a studio up and running. Still some logistical issues to sort out in preparing the house for full studio-ness, but the bottom line is that there is clay in my immediate future, and I'm very much looking forward to sharing whatever 2014 may have to offer.

Currently working on a few small projects related to getting the studio up and running and should be able to offer some sort of a post on that in the near future.

In the meantime: Happy New Year!


And as a PS: in as much as there's a lot of 2013 I'd like to just put in a box and forget about, please celebrate with me my favorite music from last year. Because, you know, that's kind of a thing I do.

10. Justin Timberlake, "The 20/20 Experience."
I'll probably losing my indie cred for including this record on my list, but let's face it: this two-part project is chock-full of undeniably catchy pop. I lean toward Part I in my including it on the list, but I won't back down and am not ashamed to say that "Suit & Tie" was my jam for the better part of 2013. Check out: "Suit & Tie"

9. STRFKR, "Miracle Mile." 
Though I'd certainly hesitate to even mention them by name in polite conversation, I was really first introduced to this band by their inclusion in one of this year's SoundSupply Drops. And it's just an impeccable Alt-Rock/Pop album all the way through. This one became an almost immediate favorite of mine and was certainly perfect for summer in the desert. Check out: "While I'm Alive"

8. Atoms for Peace, "Amok."
Pet project of Thom Yorke (Radiohead) notably featuring Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the extremely talented Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronko, and Mauro Refosco. Great mood music for a long, hard year. Along the same vein as Yorke's solo outing ("Eraser") and Radiohead's latest "King of Limbs," it's a great electro-jazz groover. Check out: "Before Your Very Eyes"

7. Citzens, "Citizens."
It's rare anymore that I come upon a "Christian" radio station that plays anything I'm really excited about listening to, much less introduces me to a new artist. Citizens certainly blew those expectations out of the water after I heard their song "Made Alive" on the radio in Phoenix this summer. This is just a good record for fans of music (alt-rock, specifically). Check out: "Made Alive"

6. The Hawk In Paris, "Freaks."
Dark pop. Clever lyrics, cleverer hooks. Hard not to groove along with this project featuring Dan Haseltine (Jars of Clay) on lead vocals. Check out: "Freaks"

5. Leagues, "You Belong Here."
Great danceable pop-rock here. I was grandfathered into my Leagues fandom via guitarist Tyler Burkum's previous work as a solo artist, hired gun (Mat Kearney, Matthew Perryman Jones) and as longtime lead guitarist of Audio Adrenaline (arguably his least engaging work as a musician thus far). Great beats, grooves, melodies, and harmonies throughout. Check out: "Walking Backwards (Live)"

4. The Civil Wars, "The Civil Wars."
I hope they're able to work out their "irreconcilable differences of ambition" to bring us more music, because Joy Williams and John Paul White make magical things happen together. Check out: "Dust to Dust"

3. The National, "Trouble Will Find Me."
I'm a late adopter of these slow-building indie darlings (2010's "High Violet" made a believer of me). This is a nearly flawless record. Haunting and beautiful, with layers upon layers of sonic master strokes. Check out: "The National - NPR Tiny Desk Concert"

1. TIE - Derek Webb, "I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry, & I Love You" / Jars of Clay, "Inland."
Two beautiful records from artists that write consistently write some of the truest music exploring the depths of life, love, and faith. Definitely worth checking out, regardless your personal feelings on any of those topics. Webb returns to his alternative rock/country roots after several experimental records for this beautiful collection of songs, while Jars of Clay forges new, yet familiar, ground again with a record that simply feels more "real" than just about anything else out there these days.

Check out: Derek Webb, "Everything Will Change"

Check out: Jars of Clay, "Love in Hard Times"

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