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Monthly Archives: December 2011

Non-fiction? More like Non-interesting!

For the last year or so I have been predominantly reading fiction. I’m not really sure why.

Traditionally, I prefer a well written historical book over a fictional novel. The characters are more believable (because they’re real) and there’s plenty of crazy shit in our history as humans to talk about that we don’t necessarily need to make stories up.

Yes, fictional stories can be great. They can change the hearts and minds of the masses for the better. There’s just something about connecting with our ancestors’ histories while reading a non-fictional book that can never be replicated in fiction. Don’t believe me? Here’s a few suggestions to get you going in the non-fiction category. Also, all pictures are links to the book’s amazon page:

Two of my favorite books about the Jewish oppression during World War II are:

 and  

One of my favorite non-fictional authors is Alison Weir. She does an incredible job of making history read like a thrilling novel. Her expertise is in English history (particularly the Tudors) but she has delved into all time periods of history. Here are two of her’s that I really loved:

 and 

Dave Eggers is another incredible nonfiction author. His works are based on more recent history. He’s never been focused on a certain geographical area but instead looks for incredible stories and flawlessly writes them into books. These are my two favorite books by Eggers:

 and 

Check these books out and let me know what you think. If you need more recommendations or have any for me, leave a comment.

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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Literature

 

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Favorite Albums of 2011

Here’s my list for 2011. Notice the title says “Favorite” and not “Best.” I don’t think I (or anybody) can make that much of a statement about something as subjective as music. I also think albums being “better” than others doesn’t always mean they’ll be more of a favorite of mine. My definition of favorite is how hard an album is to take out of the CD player (or off the iPod). This year, I’m adding a music video for each album. Hope you enjoy. Without further ado, my 10 favorite albums of 2011:

10. Florence and the Machine, Ceremonials

Florence Welch might have one of the most haunting voices that just soars all over the place. Loved the bands debut record and really enjoyed this one. This record wasn’t as digestible (in a radio-friendly way) as the debut but that didn’t bother me any. I love their use of piano. I love the orchestral-styled percussion. Solid record. Here’s Shake it Out:

9. tUnE-yArDs, w h o k i l l

Want to hear a really weird record? Check this one out. This girl, Merrill Garbus, can do incredible, wacky things with her voice. Sometimes she sounds like a girl, sometimes a guy. Sometimes she sounds like a songbird, sometimes she’s screaming at you. And it’s all infectiously amazing. I didn’t pick this record up until recently; I was tired of seeing it on other top albums list and not knowing what it was. Imagine St. Vincent ate Paul Simon and joined Vampire Weekend…then ate them, too. Just listen to Bizness:

8. The Roots, undun

A hip-hop concept album based on a Sufjan Stevens song with plenty of rock, jazz, and freak-out infused into it. What else is there to say? Listen to The OtherSide:

7. Feist, Metals

I’d describe this record (and Feist) as mid-tempo, introspective pop music with some bluesy guitar riffs and dark tones. I love it. I also love her voice. You never know where she’ll go melodically or dynamically. She added a lot of interesting instrumentation on this record that she hasn’t had in the past and I really like what they do the music. Check out How Come You Never Go There:

6. Wilco, The Whole Love

Many people see the record as Wilco returning to form. I guess I agree. The only thing is when they say that, they’re actually saying this is their first good record in years. I totally disagree. But this isn’t about past records, this is about The Whole Love. Jeff Tweedy is an incredible lyricist and songwriter (as always). Glenn Kotche (drums) gets some breathing room to jam on the record. Nels Cline (guitar) is always at the top of his game. The last track, One Sunday Morning, might just be one of the longest, most beautiful, and most boring song ever written. It’s great. Yet, there’s not a music video for that song so you get to listen to Born Alone:

5. MUTEMATH, Odd Soul

This is one of my favorite bands. They ARE my favorite band to see live. If you get a chance, do it. No excuses. Anyways, after the difficult process of recording their last record, MUTEMATH’s guitarist quit on them. So they decided to hole themselves up and record a record sans guitar player. Ironically, the album that came out is the most guitar-driven record they have. This album is very heavy on blues-rock. Paul Meany leaves the Rhodes (with a few exceptions) to rock out on the B3 organ. Oh, and does he. It’s some great keyboard work. Here’s Blood Pressure:

4. Adele, 21

There’s really not much to say that you haven’t heard about Adele. Amazing vocals. Simple instrumentation. Soulful songs. Catchy melodies. Heartfelt lyrics. And she’s only 22. How do you top that? I saw a picture going around on twitter (which I can’t locate now) that showed the number of tracks on her single, Someone Like You. How many tracks? 6. SIX! If you know anything about modern recording…pick your jaw up off the ground, please. Here’s the song:

3. Jay-Z & Kanye West, Watch the Throne

After getting out of my comfort zone and into rap last year, I’ve been really digging Kanye’s discography and his work with Jay-Z. So when I heard about this record, I was excited. During the album, Kanye calls them “luxury rap.” And they do rap a lot about money and possessions. Yet, he doesn’t give them enough credit. There is great commentary on African American social issues. Also, this album was released before Beyonce announced she was pregnant but we should have known because Jay-Z has some great raps about his fears of being a father. It’s very touching. Anyways, let’s go back to the luxury rap and listen to Otis:

2. Civil Wars, Barton Hollow

The greatest songwriting duo this decade (in my humble opinion). Joy Williams and John Paul White’s voices blend together and leap around each other like they’re long lost twins separated at birth. The album weighs heavily on their voices and White’s guitar. Frankly, they don’t need anything else to blow our minds. Here’s their haunting track, Poison and Wine:

1. Lisa Hannigan, Passengers

I’ve had a major crush on Lisa ever since I discovered Damien Rice and her beautiful harmonies she sang with him. She stopped performing with him (which crushed me) and started a solo career (which scared me {beautiful voice does not equal great artist}). Her debut album, Sea Saw, was great. Seeing her live was magical. Seeing her perform “Lucky” with Jason Mraz blew me away. Well, this year she released Passengers and I can’t stop listening to it. Her voice whispers in your ear than suddenly exerts power. She does some yodeling with incredibly inventive melodies. Her lyrics are beautiful. But what I really love is her instrumentation and what she does with it. Not only does she have an eclectic mix of instruments but she puts melodies on what you would think are the wrong instrument. It sounds like the fiddle is playing the guitar part and the ukelele is playing the fiddle part. Just go grab the album. In Knots, Lisa combines an upbeat ukelele song with a disgusting amount of paint thrown on her. All done in one take:

And here’s Lisa in a bathtub singing Little Bird. Again, in one take:

Well, there’s my list. If you disagree, tell me what I missed in the comments. I love listening to new stuff.

Oh, here’s your honorable mentions: Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay, Strange Mercy by St. Vincent, Vice Verses by Switchfoot, King of Limbs by Radiohead, I’m With You by Red Hot Chili Peppers, Headfirst by Jillian Edwards, The Reckoning by Needtobreathe, Sweeter by Gavin DeGraw, and Lasers by Lupe Fiasco.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2011 in Lists

 

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Review of Bloodlines by Keith Cockrell

Bloodlines by Keith Cockrell is an exhilarating read. Shannon is a graduate student wanting to excavate some portions of an old fort. An uncertain image of a child disappearing into a tree throws Shannon into the middle of a decades long mass murderer’s web of interlocking disappearances, deaths, family histories, romances, and racial tensions.

Cockrell does a masterful job of combining every character there is to meet on the Gulf coast and setting them all on a fictional Louisianan island rich with history. He gives the reader every twist and turn, every dark corner, every kill and near-miss that a monstrous murderer demands.

What makes this novel so intoxicating is watching the characters struggle in their own way with what life is, what death is; when life is worth living and death is worth giving. Sometimes, the answer can surprise you.

Would you like to read Bloodlines? You can purchase it for your Kindle for only $0.99!! Just click here.

You can find this original post on my local literary blog, Tevis Bluff.

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2011 in Book Review

 

Welcome to the Blog

Hello and thanks for visiting my blog. I’ll have something for you to read soon…

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 
 
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