Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top Ten Albums 2009; Ice Grilled Beef

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to grill steaks over charcoal in -5 degree weather. It was challenging and fun because it was so out of the ordinary for me, even though it was quite uncomfortable at times. We cooked steaks imported from two countries. The Argentine rib eyes were superior to the Irish rib eyes, most of us agreed. Except for Darlene, my mother-in-law, who only sampled the Irish beef and thought it delicious. And it was delicious, just not quite as good according to those of us who experienced a comparative choice.

Which brings me to the subject of year-end lists. If you are anything like me, you love to rank and debate and get rankled over the Hype Machine and Pitchfork and and Emusic's critically weighted/subjective/user data-based lists. But the reality is: Good Music is Good Music. Since it's impossible to hear every single record released in 2009, even in this day and age, ranking the best albums is an abitrary excercise at best. In my experience, recently obtained records that you listen to on Christmas vacation (Matt and Kim's Grand) tend to be ranked artifically high while other albums that you have already played a million times (Wilco The Album) slide down the list.

All things considered, I've decided to list my top ten albums in alphabetical order this year. Great Albums have a general way of appearing on everyone's lists somewhere, whether they are tenth or first. And Good Music is good music, depending on what you've sampled, and the Irish steaks really were quite excellent, if you ask me.

David Bazan || Curse Your Branches
Eels || Hombre Lobo
Phoenix || Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Matt and Kim || Grand
Mos Def || The Ecstatic
Superdrag || Industry Giants
The Rural Alberta Advantage || Hometowns
U2 || No Line on The Horizon
Wilco || Wilco (The Album)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs || It's Blitz

honorable mentions:

David Crowder Band || Church Music
Silversun Pickups || Swoon
Grizzly Bear || Veckatimest
Jars of Clay || The Long Fall Back to Earth
Julian Casablancas || Phrazes For the Young
Switchfoot || Hello Hurricane

OK and just to nullify everything I just wrote, I must come out and say that my favorite album of 2009 is ... no surprises: PHOENIX.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Hello everyone, it's been all Storm of The Century around here during the last week and so I've been sleeping in my jeans and wearing long johns and things of that nature. Speaking of sleeping in my clothes, I have a theory that it might be the missing ingredient in rediscovering my creativity. I am hoping to return home with two new songs completed for our upcoming The Overdubs reunion concert.

Two days ago, it was really icy and one car crashed into the light pole in front of the canal outside of Jim and Dar's 106-year-old house, causing it to fall over. Less than two hours later, another car ran off the road and due to the absence of said light pole, crashed into the canal...made me glad I don't have to drive here. Biking in the slush and snow is dangerous enough.

A blurry picture shot through the second story window up here where we sleep.

The rescue taking place (disclaimer, it was warmer inside than out but some of us went outside to make sure no one needed help).

Top albums of the year post coming and Decade in Review also....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

2009: A Beautiful Day and Night, U2 and ONE at the Rose Bowl

It's been storming here in Fresno for five days; maybe not the longest storm on history but the longest in my memory...

As our family prepares to head off to Amsterdam for Christmas, I figure now is a good time to look back on some 2009 highlights. It's been an eventful and wonderful year, poor for volume on the blog but rich in meaningful experiences from the birth of my son Micah (more on that later) to our adventures in Missouri to our experiences with ONE.

One of the coolest and most rewarding highlights was the U2 show at the Rose Bowl. Possibly the largest worldwide streaming event in the history of mankind, Tim, Bekah and I had the privilege of roaming the tailgate areas and parking lots, signing up people for ONE's declaration to end extreme poverty.

That night, our team of volunteers signed up over 3,000 people, which is incredible. The show itself was quite good as well, though, we were a little too tired to really get crazy. Having been to each, I also would say that overall, I tend to go for stripped down Elevation-era U2 over massive spectacle Claw U2. But what's most impressive is the way the band managed to connect emotionally with nearly 100,000 people using (in spite of?) all of the excesses of the moment. Nothing I can write captures it quite like this clip I shot on the Nikon Cool Pix. You can see what an incredible vantage point we had from the inner circle.

The day was memorable for a couple other reasons. I had never heard the songs "Boom Boom Pow" and "Gotta Feeling" until the Black Eyed Peas played them live. I also saw a lot of celebrities milling around due to the fact that there isn't a proper backstage area at the 360 tour, just an area where the general admissioners mix it up with the ONE campaigners and the VIPS. (unless they just hang out in the friends and family tent or RED zone) Best Celebrity sighting? None other than Mr. David Ruis. His recent work in LA and lifetime commitment to the homeless and the oppressed are a true inspiration.

Also the picture of Tim is just before he almost got in a fight with a guy who was upset about our late arrival to the near-stage area...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

ONE Day's Wages, ONE conference

OK, sorry, I am not a disciplined blogger, I admit it. Despite my best intentions, when things get really wild, I retreat to personal communications, critical emails and time with Bekah and the kids. Wait, hold on, I take it back, that's not really something to apologize for, since my silly indie rock posts can probably wait. (Though I do need to explore why Jawbreaker's "Accident Prone" is playing in my mind even though I haven't listened to it since 08 {come to think of it, maybe it's related to my skateboarding crash a couple weeks ago} and the general brilliance of that band)

Anyhow, on the non-profit and awareness raising front, this great video explaining the launch of ONE DAYS WAGES. Although we already give quite a bit more than one days wages to a World Vision child sponsorship, I think this is a great entry point into caring about extreme poverty and taking the first step to make a difference. I'm ready to give but I better check with Bekah first ...

The Movement of One Day's Wages from One Day's Wages on Vimeo.

This Saturday I'm headed off to the ONE Member conference in San Francisco with Kevin and Scott. It was nearly three years ago that I went to an event at UC San Francisco that helped me to a beginning understanding of my role as an advocate and an organizer. As I am still barely scratching the surface of advocacy, it's my hope that we can all take a leap forward in our efforts to MAKE EXTREME POVERTY HISTORY.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ryan Adams Inspirational, God is not a White Man, Church Music, Happiness

As much as I am a sucker for everything Ryan Adams releases, this morning I bought his two recent PAX-AM digital singles. Maybe secretly, or not so secretly, I wish I could be as intentionally eccentric and hilarious myself as when he posts:

"Thanks for making Pax Am the number one Ryan Adams merch site online. We would hunt anyone else down though.

Did you have a rad summer? Good. If you said no, never worry, Pax Am is here. We are gonna fill your fall and winter up with vinyl, digital singles, and t shirts you don't need.

Stay tuned for videos, free tracks, and our digi-singles. Subscribers get first dibs on rare vinyl.

Remember, purchasing the buck 49 singles is a way to keep FOGGY TV on the air, but it is not necessary to view the weekly content.This is my label and my internet disco dream.

Make it real you jerks.

Worship me."

Clearly, I don't worship him. It's unlikely that's what the man really intends anyway. However, the word reminded me that most of the time, the music that is most influential to me is not overtly spiritual or released by the people who release for-profit Christian music. Two notable examples though have been stuck on repeat for me these last few months, Michael Gungor's joyous song "White Man" and David Crowder's just-released brilliant album Church Music. "Oh Happiness" from that album, is pure Japanese-fizzy-synth excellence and a really hard song not to hum . Expect it at The Five soon.

Irena Salina's FLOW, For Love of Water part 1

This past summer Bekah and I spent time in Springfield, MO working with missionary kids (if you aren't sure what that is, go here)

As part of orientation for the new mks, we lived out in the wilderness (ok, semi-wilderness) for five days and four nights without access to running water down by the camp. With the nearest drinking water source about a mile up the road, I elected to cut down on our admittedly already large footprint and limit our bottled water and Gatorade in favor of drinking regular water from a hose.

This immediately alarmed some (Is it sanitary to store it in the reusable plastic bin? Is the hose itself clean?) and I had to back away from my original intent (having kids walk a mile plus and carry forty pounds of water back on foot turned out to be too extreme) of recreating the struggle for survival for many people around the world. However, we drank the water, it tasted fine, no one got sick and I guess full disclosure forces me to admit that I had a Brita filter in my King of Mu Kappa camp. It also turned out to be so hot (100 degrees plus 90 percent humidity) that our acclimatized systems couldn't stand it and we had to leave the camp twice for fear of rampant heat exhaustion.

All that to say, I watched Irena Salina's FLOW with my own set of experiences giving me just the slightest taste of what it must be like to live without easy, municipal access to clean water. The film is well-made and insightful, although it suffers from the same problem that nearly every documentary made post-Michael Moore's "Roger and Me", in that it is somewhat one-sided and the filmmaker clearly began with an established agenda rather than setting out intent on discovering a nuanced story.

This doesn't make it any less necessary or VITAL though. The most startling statistic about clean water is that everyone in the world could have access to it for around US $30 billion while $100 billion was spent last year on bottled water alone.

In a world where ONE Billion people live on less than $1 a day and millions live without access to clean water or basic medical services, it is crucial that the voices of those in the margins not be overshadowed by powerful corporations and banks. Films like this one are an important tool in the fight to end extreme poverty because they shine a light on hidden places and expose injustice. It's important though that we work towards solutions, and that we take action. In part two of this post, we'll focus on how each of us could actually be part of the solution to bring clean water to the world.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009, autumn and the feeling, 5:45 am

yesterday felt like fall, today feels more like post-summer. don't ask me for a definitive definition, I just feel it in my bones (arthritic, 29 year old bones?)

Yesterday my whole family, parents, brother and sister, came over to the apartment and we ate tri-tip from the crockpot and watch the Bills and Raiders throw victories away and rejoiced as the Giants were victorious over the Rockies. It was a great time for sure. Bekah led the Eight Bible Study at Northpark which started at 8:00 pm but she was home in time for the 4th and 15 touchdown by the Raiders. Unfortunately she had Tomlinson in her fantasy line up.

Also, yesterday I got up at 5:30 and walked across the parking lot in the rain to attend a Men's group. Consequently, today I am tired. But it was worth it.

OK, so enough sports, how about amateur DJ playlists: here's what I came up with over the weekend. Also, I briefly linked my twitter account not realizing that it would send a message every single time, sorry if you get mobile updates....

Thursday, September 10, 2009


A few months back ONE posted and circulated a petition asking our Senator’s to cosponsor the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2009 (S. 624), and help provide 100 million people with first-time, sustainable access to clean water and sanitation by 2015.

Because of the efforts of California ONE members, over 16,000 Californians signed the petition and shortly thereafter the petition was hand delivered to Senator Feinstein’s office in San Francisco. Since then, we’ve had members visit the senator’s staff, call her offices, and write letters around the state.

I am very excited to announce as of 9/8/09 Senator Feinstein has become the newest co-sponsor S.624 Water for the World Act!

Friday, September 4, 2009

David Bazan, When They Really Get to Know Me They Will Run From My Blog

Sitting here on my day off, post-Bob The Builder exhibit at The Met downtown, with two startling realizations.

1. Yesterdays post is likely to make the top 59 Ryan Townsend blog posts ever. AND ...
2. I am only posting entries at a clip of two to three per month, at least one of which consists only of the words "Your Power Animal is The Siberian Chipmunk."

With this in mind, I am returning to what I love, semi-obscure indie rock artists and critically tolerated general market films masquerading as "indie." The Darjeeling Limited comes to mind.

David Bazan has always been one of my favorite artists. Painful, brutal honesty, and tunefulness rarely mix with fictional stories AND thinly veiled autobiography so well. His new record has mostly gotten attention for the fact that he's reportedly abandoned the Christian faith, but we won't count that against him because Curse Your Branches is full of the vitriol and self-deprecating humor we've grown to love as well as being quite easy to hum along to.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Todd Hunter, Spiritual Practices in Costa Mesa

I came across a very interesting piece via the Christianity Today newsletter, a fine piece of email that typically sidetracks me from my oh-so-important-tasks a couple times a week. This interview with Todd Hunter tracks his journey from Calvary Chapel to head of Vineyard to emerging church guru to head of Alpha USA to Anglican priest and now (incredibly!) Bishop.

I've had a few opportunities to interact with Todd over the years as he was on the board of the church and ministries of Soul Survivor USA when Bekah and I served there 2001-2005. I have always been impressed with his rare combination of humility and intellect, and his comments in this article bear that out. I also appreciate his continuing and unwavering emphasis on evangelism (something that get lost in the search for a Bigger and More Holistic and Truthful Gospel). Here, Hunter argues for a return to spiritual practices as an engine for evangelism. He specifically mentions non-confrontive approach to sexual morality and saying the Apostles Creed in the same breath, which I find both startling and somewhat intiruguing.

Hunter also argues for a renewal of spiritual practices as a Christianity that's actually lived as oppossed to simply believed.

He states, "I have a vision of liturgy as a tool for evangelism and discipleship, a tool that is grounded in Scripture."

Much of what Hunter advocates resonates with me, a late 20's pastor with roots in Pentecostal holiness and a predilection for reading post-Evangelical literature and a promixity to emergent theology. I suppose you could call me, Emergent-adjacent. Also being an Anglican-ophile (four years in the tradition) I will certainly be cheering on Hunter's and (my close friend and former pastor Paul Martin's) Holy Trinity Costa Mesa church plant as it launches on Sept. 27th.

Two key thoughts I had to add after reading:

1. I'm not so sure that emerging church theology and leadership development are as mutually exclusive as Hunter (abeit hesitantly) inferred when he said,

"Second, after 10 or 12 years of the emerging church, you have to ask where anything has been built. Evangelism has been so muted and the normal building of structures and processes hasn't moved forward because there's no positive, godly imagination for doing either evangelism or leadership. Such things are by definition utilitarian, and so they were made especially difficult."

I do think that we need to find a new ways to enact church leadership that bypasses utilitarianism for a more communal, justice-centered approach but I think we have a model for that in Christ and the disciples. My interactions with other young pastors reveals a tendency to be wary of authoritarian structures but not necessarily a desire to deconstruct the notion of leadership altogether. I also believe that volunteer or bivocational leadership is the future of the church and in trying to spend my time and resources accordingly, am uncovering a deep resevoir of diverse leaders. Many of whom may/or may not subscribe to foundationalism or fundamentalism in any formal way but who are nonetheless committed to the forgiveness pf sins by grace, who are determined to make a difference in the world and who follow the teachings of Jesus in an orthodox and literal sense.

In some ways, I think Hunter's criticism of the emerging movement is in some ways deserved, but I believe that we will see a real renewal in the church that will come from the very same people who are still finding their way through the matrix and shaking off the shackles of modernism and American Evangelicalism. All that to say, we in the 16 to 29 demo, are still enroute. This same weakness, is also an opportunity for God to demonstrate his sovereignty and power.

2. I have been giving a lot of thought to the spritual disciplines, to the spiritual practices that accompany Anglicanism and have been so glaringly absent from many of our Protestant, Charismatic churches. In our own community of faith, we have recently been fasting, and personally, I have really been wrestling with how to integrate silence, solitude and liturgy into my own life.

Our admittedly limited experiences and experiments with liturgy in The Five at Northpark lead me to echo Hunter when he stresses that spiritual practices and participatory Christianity are not impediments to evangelism but rather an engine for it. Someone participating in the local church first and believing second can be a beautiful process and I am seeing it happen.

Another reason that I love the spiritual practices is because I believe that if we practice them biblically, they inevitably put us on a crash course with injustice. Separated from political fads and popular, trendy Christianity, spiritual disciplines can and should lead us in the direction of serving the poor. I am convinced and have written in this blog several times that we will never see transformation in our culture or in our nation, as long as we continue to oppress and marginalize entire populations, and turn a blind eye to issues of injustice.

Isaiah 58:6-9 (TNIV)

6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness a]">[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

So, practicing spirituality that is traditional and orthodox can naturally lead to evangelism and transformation but even more, those practices should lead us to social/personal action that contextualizes the gospel and reveals this Gospel of Reconciliation to actually be the Good News that we know it to be. Then, when people are exposed to a salvation that resonates loudly (ALL CREATION RETURNING TO RIGHT RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD), evangelism should occur almost automatically. There's no secret agenda in sharing that with people. Of course, as I'm reminded all the time, Evangelism does actually require that we actually TELL people the reasons behind our efforts to eliminate extreme poverty and to bring freedom to those in captivity. Otherwise we are just doing good work like everyone else.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

surrender your stuff?

I've been meaning to post on Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff for some time...of course, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Justin Landis introduced me to the site a while back. I completely and wholeheartedly recommend viewing the 20-minute video. Then you can recommend it to other people....

This has certainly caused me to re-evaluate my wants/needs yet again. Much of the information I was partially aware of but Leonard does a very fine job of distilling and organizing the film into a tight, coherent narrative that will make you think twice about buying that alarm clock for three bucks or new iPod every year.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Mono No Aware/Zombies/Love

There's something vaguely post-apocalyptic about the Fulton Mall after dark. Protest-rock from the 60s and 70s mingles with the smell of downtown Fresno while very few, if any, people wander the industrial-art adorned promenade. I almost expect zombies/vampires/mutants/aliens to pop around the corner at any second.

This week I'm in training to be a CASA (hence my time on the F. Mall) and Bekah has been in Southern California visiting her family but she'll be back today with the kids and my father in law. I have been meaning to update this blog for a while but priorities have pushed it down the list. With the extra quiet, I have been able to work on a song or two though. This fall, we are going to record a worship album and finally get to the second overdubs lp... of particular inspiration is this incredible Hammock song/video "Mono No Aware."

Hammock - Mono No Aware from David Altobelli on Vimeo.

Monday, July 13, 2009

pithy Bible verse for the day, currently listening

(Ecc 10:11) If a snake bites before you charm it, what's the use of being a snake charmer?

albums currently in heavy rotation:

Eels - Hombre Lobo
Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
Silversun Pickups - Swoon
Casiotone For The Painfully Alone - Vs. Children

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Dear Congressman Radanovich

Congressman, I urge you to vote no on cuts to $506m from our multilateral contributions in the State-Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.

Overall, support for these multilateral institutions is a key part of our foreign policy and re-describing the US to the world. Working through multilaterals, we are able to leverage more from other countries to share the burden.

Along with 1,000 other ONE members in your constituency, I humbly ask that you consider the benefits that these funds have for the world's poorest people.

I appreciate your time.

thanks for your tireless service and representation!

Ryan Townsend

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Vacations make the average worker more efficient when she returns.

I am Clark Griswold.

He's got you and me sister in his hands.

Aside from children's songs, these one word title songs have been in heavy rotation with the Townsends during our pre-easter trek to Monterey and our post-Easter Vegas Vacation. Maybe i'll have a chance to post the playlist tomorrow but chances are it's gonna be crazy at the office.

Superdrag "Aspertame"
Leona Naess "Mexico"
White Lies "Death"
My Bloody Valentine "Sometimes"
U2 "Magnificent"
Owen "Gazebo"
Radiohead "Just"
Tokyo Police Club "Centennial"
S.F.C. "Respect"

That's it for now. Looking forward to getting off the freeway and watching some soccer highlights.

Friday, April 17, 2009

So yesterday for the first time in forever, i spent an extended perioed of time in a record store, Zia's in Vegas. After much deliberation, i walked out of there with the self titled debut album from uk band white lies and owen (the ep) for 13 dollars american. Today, we are at red rock canyon and a petting zoo old west style farm caled bonnie springs. We ate a picnic that included carrots which then reminded me of my favorite music video, Last Stop: This Town by Eels.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

las vegas, TWITTER, trial and error, love, red rock

the process of experimentation via trial and error has led me to the conclusion that the best blog posts are birthed when I am away from my laptop. often, these moments come and go and are lost forever. imagine my joy then to discover that i can text blog entries, ala twitter (i know, yes, i"m late to the party but sue me and you can follow me later than never THE RYAN TOWNSEND), and therefore post more often with more inspiration. ok, maybe it's wishful thinking but that's what tools and toys are for.

day three of vacation was great fun, did the whole casino strip thing, went to Mandalay Bay and saw the sharks with amelia. played some games at a castle themed casino. rode the tram. went to some outlets. got some cheap sunglasses (along with buying inexpensive jeans, I am now officially moving beyond lushness). i signed up for pandora. I am reading Chasing The Dragon by Jackie Pullinger. I am trying to learn how to relax. I should be sleeping now in fact.

tomorrow is nature day at red rock. friday is beatle's love cirque de sol. saturday is an area 51s game. I've been informed that they are no longer the Dodgers triple a team which is too bad because i was looking forward to hating them. tonights game by the way...sickening.

so, in conclusion, thanks to sms functionality, expect a lot more posts. just don't expect them to make sense.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Budget: ONE call to action

From ONE CA Organizer Roscoe Mapps:

Both HOUSE and SENATE budgets eliminated our international funding. Even Secratary Gates states International Funding is crucial to helping defend America. Secratary Clinton agreed with him.

There’s an amendment and we need ONE members to call Senators Boxer and Feinstein and leave a message urging them: to sign onto the "Kerry-Lugar Amendment" to fully fund the International Affairs Budget.

Tomorrow is the vote. So Today is the day!

Takes 2 minutes. Heres How:

1)Call the Senate Switchboard at, (202) 224-3121, and let them know what state you are calling from and they will connect you to your Senator's Offices.
2)Let the Senate office know your name and address, that you are a member of ONE, and leave a message urging the Senator to sign onto the "Kerry-Lugar Amendment" to fully fund the International Affairs Budget.
3)Please make sure to call both Boxer and Feinsten’s offices.
4) Post a reply on here saying you've called :)
5) Take picture a picture of yourself on the phone - with a ONE shirt or sign if you have one - We’re doing a massive CA blog and pics would be huge! - send it to me:
6) Tell your friends to do the same
7) Change your Facebook Status for 24 hours.

Good Luck!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Superdrag "Aspartame"

It will probably come as no surprise to those of you who know me that Superdrag's Industry Giants, released a little over a week ago, has been in heavy rotation here in the office, in the car and on walks home from work.

What is something of a surprise is that the band has already filmed a very nice video for the brilliantly caustic catharsis that is "Aspartame," a fist-pumping, contrarian rant against the establishment, the military and wickedness in general. I won't try and insert any more overly descriptive words here: I just plain LOVE it. Plus, it has two of the best executed dub breakdowns I've ever heard. Both John Lennon and Bob Marley would be jealous.

"some of the clouds are not clouds
some of those jets pose death threats
it’s coming around
coming around
some of your rights don't win outright
some of your lights are not lights
the consuming fires of hell
burn this place to the ground
burn it right to the ground

I just write songs
I don't carry a gun
I want peace and safety for my innocent sons and wife
I just love God
I don't trust in man
On with the truth against the wickedness at hand

If you wanna usurp the power
I'll be ready in a half an hour
Give my life for that
are the devils ever nervous?
do they deserve the death they serve us?
I’m still not certain of that

sometimes brains are mundane
entertained and restrained
and sealed up tight
all the aspartame and the video games and the drugs in the food
keeping you subdued
so you’ll never recognize who put out the lights

I just play guitar
I can't stop the war
I want peace and safety for the kids in kandahar
if you love peace
if you love mercy
you're bound to cause a little controversy"

Actually John Davis has long been one of my favorite songwriters for knowing his way around a tune and for being willing to indulge in the most blatant of pop cliches while at the same time harboring an affection for the minor key and weird. Usually his lyrics are not the primary reason I love the songs (see "Sold You an Alibi" and almost every track from Head Trip in Every Key) but Industry Giants contains Davis' best and most insightful lyrics to date. Plus, the music, is muscular, thoughtful and full of existential angst. There's real conviction in Davis' voice. Superdrag's music is the perfect soundtrack for a world slightly past the sell-by date.

A world in need of God. A world that needs songs like "Aspartame" on the radio.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

(M)orning by Mae

Although I was deeply disappointed in the band's major label debut, Singularity, I still have a special place in my heart for the band Mae. In fact, I still listen to The Everglow whenever I feel the need for a little comfort in the midst of post-modern urban alienation.

The band has bounced back from being bounced (or did they ask out of contract? it's all the same these days any way) from Capitol, with a fantastic idea. Record 12 songs in 12 months and donate all of the proceeds to a charity created by the band partnered up with Habitat for Humanity. The resulting three songs have all been interesting, lush, slightly orchestral compositions. March's entry "A Melody, The Memory" is my favorite song so far. Both familiar and new, the song's subject matter deals with the way music provides a soundtrack for those moments, you know the one's I'm taking about. So, what are you waiting for? The band has already raised over $24,000 for the various projects. It's certainly a big idea, some would say naive ... to which I say "way to dream out loud!"

From the messaage board:

"(M)orning represents the beginning of the day, the beginning of the year, and the beginning of a life. It is our childhood. It is our fresh start. It is our new hope. It is the empty canvas of our minds and the beginning of our story.

[January - April] This is the season to focus on youth and help instill appreciation for music and the arts. Music is the world's language. It has the ability to bridge nations and to connect people. We have been changed by the power of music. That is a gift we want to share. Art goes hand in hand with music as a powerful voice of expression. Art shows us the world from the people's point of view. Art is the vessel of the human experience and it is a powerful weapon in the hands of truth. This is also the time to focus on education. Learning is what opens the doors to a better future. What aspects of the education system need our help? How do we educate ourselves to face the world's problems as they become ours to solve? These are the issues of Morning:


We have asked you to write the story. Here is how you do that. We are giving ALL of the profits from the sale of our digital downloads to projects that we choose together with you. Think about the specific things you feel passionate about changing in the world. Since the first part of the year is dedicated to music, art and education, we are asking you to think about how we can work together to fix things that are broken. We do not just want to throw money at something. We want to create a door for involvement. Lets talk. What can we do together to make education better? What do you like and dislike about your education? What about school music and art programs? Do you know any amazing teachers that are trying things that live outside of the box? Tell this community about them and lets make sure that we shine a light on the people that are doing it right.
We are thinking about working with an organization called Destination Imagination. Have any of you ever worked with them before? What was that experience like? Check out the link and lets get our hands dirty."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

first march post, modest mouse, satelite skin

During intense times of really sorting it out, I am not a terribly effective blogger, either that, or a new baby boy keeps me from indie rock musings. Likely some of both.

Last month's Modest Mouse show in Visalia was enjoyable, managed to snap a picture or two and hear 12 of 18 songs before heading back to fresno before Micah turned into a pumpkin at midnight. Especially notable was my favorite mm tune, "trailer trash." everyone in the fox nodded along and isaac brock guitar heroed his way through some classics despite the occassional feedback and sound issues. slightly bummed to have to leave early but you know, parenthood is a sacrifice...

two drummers!


Never Ending Math Equation
We've Got Everything
Trailer Trash
Bury Me With It
Wild Packs of Family Dogs
Doin' the Cockroach
Fire It Up
Float On
The Good Times Are Killing Me
Satin in a Coffin
Satellite Skin
The View
Alone Down There
Spitting Venom

3rd Planet
Custom Concern
All Nite Diner

All tour long, Modest Mouse was playing this new song, Satelite Skin:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

modest mouse! fat tuesday fatigue

it's no secret to anyone who knows me, I'm not as spry as I used to be. therefore, still tired from last night's odyssey to see modest mouse in visalia, I thought I should point out that I am excited about this friday's Rogue Fest show at the starline. Excited enough to drag the fam out to Tower and hand out a few fliers. There were a lot of pepole out there celebrating Fat Tuesday who may not be observing Ash Wednesday or the rest of Lent for that matter. Just an observation.

Keeping with the theme of excited, I actually posted a comment on the beehive about the modest mouse show. I'll do a more detailed review later but I'm off to listen to the War Child Heroes album and hopefully fall asleep.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bleak Economic Outlook offered by the FED

I admit it. I went ahead and listened to a very famous band's new album. This highly anticipated record doesn't come out for a few weeks but though I suspect the band leaked it on purpose, it still doesn't excuse my actions I suppose. And I already pre-ordered it anyway...let the rationalizations fall like rain on the bleak economic outlook stores pouring into my inbox today.

The album? Pretty promising so far. Favorite track "Unknown Caller."


here's a compilation of photos from the last two years, feat. music by jets to brazil

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Laser Cats, Alphabet Songs

sometimes i'm a little late to the party (laser cats 4, where have i been?). for instance, i just first watched steve martin host SNL for the 15th time. also, some of my friends have been posting notes called alphabet soup, now i follow them into the abyss of facebook note-posting (on my blog as well).

every one of these songs comes from my laptop itunes library, so the selections generally skew new. though the hardest choice of the day was whether to include "blood bank" by bon iver or "between the bars" by elliott smith.

A - Abel - The National
B - Between The Bars - Elliott Smith
C - Can't Hardly Wait (Electric Out-take Version from Tim) - The Replacements
D - Deep in the Heart - U2
E - Ex's and Oh's - The New Amsterdams
F - Feeling Like I Do - Superdrag
G - Geraldine - Glasvegas
H - Heretics - Andrew Bird
I - I Want You To Be My Love (live from nowhere) - Over The Rhine
J - Joseph, Better You Than Me (feat. Elton John) - The Killers
K - Keep You Around - Matt Hopper
L - Lullaby - Shayna and The Bulldog
M -Mercury (Gene Mix) - The Prayer Chain
N - Night Windows - The Weakerthans
O - On and On and On - Wilco
P - Passionate - L.A. Symphony
Q- Quick and Painful - Free Blood
R - Reckoner - Radiohead
S - ?School - Crashdog
T - The Perfect Beat feat KRS-ONE - Talib Kwelli
U - Underwater (live) - The Violet Burning
V - Vid Spilum Endalaust - Sigur Ros
W - Way You Walk - Summer Hymns
X - X Off Days - The New Year
Y - Your Ex-Lover is Dead - Stars
Z - Zephyrus - Bloc Party

7/4 Shorline - Broken Social Scene

note: songs are for sampling purposes only, if you like what you hear, please support the artists through buying their albums and t-shirts and going to their shows.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

post crisis world, 5 dollar water, happy birthday

My daughter Amelia turned 2 on friday and my son, Micah, turned three weeks. These kids are a reminder why the World Economic Forum in Davos is important. Has anyone been watching the videos from last week's summit? I have and let me just say, while all the apologizing is commendable, I don't exactly feel like it's gonna be ok. But I do agree in the words of Hans-Rudolf Merz that we must "overhaul our institutions, systems and most of all our thinking and actions and adjust our attitudes to the needs of the World." Check out the Davos channel below.

The other day, I found 2 $5 bills in a pocket of a shirt laying around my office. I was pleasantly surprised of course and ended up using one for my DMV printout so I can volunteer for CASA and the other to pay foe 5/12 of a ticket to attend a high school play called Titanic! The Musical. But for the first time in a while (I've been quite caught up in baby/toddler land and guitar pedal junkie-ville) I remembered just how privileged we are to be middle class in one of the richest societies in the history of the world. And these times may not last forever, for me or for all of us. The day may come when I am acutely aware of all of my money: paper or otherwise. But it's essential that we remember that this economic turmoil hurts the poor more than anyone else...

something you could do with $5:

Got any gift ideas for Valentine's Day? We do. from Angel Mission on Vimeo.

Monday, February 2, 2009

innovation vs. learning vs. experience vs. knowledge

"Innovation is amputation."

Just had an interesting discussion with Nate Mullen about progress and artificial intelligence. Interpret the above quote as you wish.

I've been getting pretty into the Visual Bookshelf facebook ap. Just finished The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland and reviewed it. Also finished Everything Must Change by Brian McClaren.

"Coupland is rightly accused of retreading the same disaffected post-modern territory in some of his novels. In my opinion, his work is also wildly inconsistent from novel to novel. However, The Gum Thief is quite original in structure and tone, and ranks up there with his best books IMO (Microserfs, Life After God, Generation X). Sure, we feel like we already know some of these characters, but Coupland manages to three-dimensionalize them and the plot(not always his strong suit) is engaging enough to support the characters themselves."

"A great, easy to understand, summary of the major global crises facing humanity...McClaren is especially skilled at pointing out the hypocrisy behind our western perspectives and pointing to Jesus as the solution for a Revolution of Hope. Regardless of political idealogy or theology, we can all agree that the current suicidal system is in need of a complete and comprehensive change."

Sunday, February 1, 2009

super bowl, boss, chili

One of my new year's resolutions (in addition to using zero individual sized plastic water bottles in 2009) is to recap important events immediately rather than planning to blog later. Invariably, those entries rarely get written. For instance, I have yet to blog my new year's resolutions.

Today was a great day for community at Northpark. Our morning gatherings were lively and included a laugh-out-loud hilarious Hanz and Franz routine from Jason Tatham and Ron Nelson. Then at least 200 hundred people came out for the Super Bowl, Chili Cook Off and Classic Rock Halftime Show. Bekah's aunt, Cynthia Sondeno, won the Cook Off and the band (known to me as Raul Hernandez and the D-HOUSE BOYZ) tore through the classics "Come Together," "Rock and Roll," "Behind Blue Eyes," "La Grange," "Dead or Alive" and a song by some band called Velvet Revolver (hehe). I didn't even regret missing the Boss...

Anyhow, it would've been nice if the Cards had pulled it out but you can't complain (unless you are an actualy Arizona fan) when the Super Bowl is an actual contest.

Mostly, today was a reminder that I am blessed with a great family, great friends and a great faith community. Sure, some people raise their eyebrows when I squeeze MGMT and Tokyo Police Club into the Super Bowl mix, but I think they like us here.

One More Thing, I think Springsteen should have played "The Rising".

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

modest mouse!

I just found out that Modest Mouse is playing the Fox Theater in Visalia on Feb. 23rd. Tickets go on sale tomorrow. I will be poised and ready to double click my way to tickets...

Turns out Isaac Brock actually made an appearance with the estimable ensemble Broken Social Scene back in November. Apparently they played several Modest Mouse classics, including "The Good Times Are Killing Me" (a song that forever remind me of pedaling Jarred's beach cruiser around Newport Beach) and "The World at Large" featured here.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

About a Boy

On Friday at 5:22 pm, Bekah and I welcomed Micah James Glenn Townsend into the world at Clovis Community Hopsital. He weighed 7 pounds 8 ounces and was 19 inches long as of Friday. I'm convinced he's already grown bigger.

If you could bottle Joy, this would be it. More info and photos can be found at Micah's very own blog.

Friday, January 16, 2009

It’s Go Time, Baby One More

For the second time in our lives, we woke up early and arrived at the hospital for a scheduled induction…that’s pretty much how we roll. No shame in needing a little help to get the party started. We checked into Clovis Community this morning at 5:30 (well 5:38, had to stop at Starbucks on the way in). On the way in, guided by the twin lights of speedometer and GPS (totally unnecessary since getting here requires only a total of two turns), we were filled with excitement and mild apprehension since we remember the lengthy process that accompanied the wonderful journey of Amelia into the world.

Honestly, I can’t wait. Which reminds me of the song. “Can’t Hardly Wait” by The Replacements.

It’s only appropriate that we be armed with music for the occasion. In fact, Bekah is all about the maternity mixes.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the hype machine top ten

So, the Hype Machine counted down all the way to 2009's album of the year. My votes, though submitted late, did make it into the results. It is, after all, an indie rock poll so deadlines come with some ambiguity.

I can see now why everyone is so into rocking the presidential vote, it creates a sense of ownership. Even though my album of the year only placed fourth (actually not the worst thing that could happen, I'm not the penultimate follower after all) three of my top ten made it in. Sigur Ros, Bon Iver and The Hold Steady.

Now, it's pretty clear to me that I need to look into Fleet Foxes and M83.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

top 50 hype machine, 50-41

I love the hype machine, I love end-of-year lists (of course I do) so imagine my delight at listening to end of the year hype machine radio!

Friday, January 9, 2009

from different angles :: orange county

I think that songs are an enduring art form. This can at least be partly attributed to the flexibility of songs and the ability to see a song in different light from many different angles. If you were to deconstruct a painting and then reconstitute in a different form, it would no longer be the same essential composition but take a song and deconstruct it .... and the song survives and in the best of scenarios, even thrives.

I figured that it wouldn't be terribly inappropriate to start a recurring feature off with a song I wrote, called "Orange County." Now, I am of course aware that the brilliant Pigeon John also has a song called Orange County, and there is also a movie starring the occasionally brilliant Jack Black. Both of those are great, but this songs has nothing to do with either. I did spend over four years living in O.C., so that was about the only title I could use for this song. I'm not in any way, implying that there is all that much to discover about this particular composition, only that it does serve as an example because I happen to have access to a bunch of versions, hehe.

So, that said, in the future I'll dig a little deeper but this is a relatively new song and I'll share three versions here, justin landis covers the song up a key.

I played the song live during a recording session (ostensibly to submit the song to the TV show Scrubs, as of now this recording has not been completed)

And finally, the overdubs play it live at club fred during our three guitar phase.

Of course, you can also check out the original version of the song, featuring banjo work by Paul Chesterton, from the album Here is Where We Are by downloading it from

"Orange County" by The Overdubs

thanks for listening, see you next time.