Last week, Christ and Pop Culture launched our official iOS app/magazine for iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. It comes with exclusive content and features as well as curated/highlighted content from our extensive archives. More details here.
Longtime readers will know that I’m a huge fan of lovesliescrushing, the “beautiful noise” duo of Scott Cortez and Melissa Arpin Duimstra, and have been for many years. Thankfully, the duo have been pretty active in recent years, releasing new music and re-issuing older releases, and the last few months are no different.
“Ghost Colored Halo”
Last week, lovesliescrushing released Ghost Colored Halo on Projekt Records, a revised and expanded version of a self-titled EP by the same name from 2011 (my review). The album was recorded live in one take, without any overdubs, and as such, is one of the rawer releases in the lovesliescrushing discography, though it still creates the same hallucinatory effect that one has come to expect from the duo.
There are some differences between the Projekt release and the self-released EP, though. For example, “The Wounds That Won’t Heal” is now “The Tiger Hunts Alone” and the title track has been transformed from an eight-minute bliss-out session into something more solemn and ominous where Cortez’ guitar conjures up church bells and funeral processions.
The duo announced earlier this year that Ghost Colored Halo would actually be a “sister” release to their next release, an as-yet-untitled double album that will be released this summer.
Finally, the band’s Wavertone label has released some older material via the Wavertone Bandcamp page. This includes Glissceule (one of my fave lovesliescrushing releases, my review), Shiny Tiny Stars (which features some of the band’s earliest recordings), and various side projects (like the more beat-oriented Polykroma and Transient Stellar).
An excellent Smashing Magazine piece by Vasilis van Gemert that argues that many of the default assumptions underlying modern web development are flawed. I found this passage particularly insightful:
The way we designed our websites until recently was by putting a header with the logo and navigation at the top, putting the subnavigation on the left, putting some widgets on the right, and putting the footer at the bottom. When all of that was done, we’d cram the content into the little space that was left in the middle. All of the things we created first — the navigation, the widgets, the footer — they all helped the visitor to leave the page. But the visitor probably wanted to be there! That was weird. It was as if we were not so confident in our own content and tried our best to come up with something else that our guests might like.
But rather than pollute the page with all kinds of links to get people out of there, we should really focus on that thing in the middle. Make sure it works. Make sure it looks good. Make sure it’s readable. Make sure people will understand it and find it useful. Perhaps even delight them with it!
Once you’re done with the content, you can start to ask yourself whether this content needs a header. Or a logo. Or subnavigation. Does it need navigation at all? And does it really need all of those widgets? The answer to that last question is “No.” I’ve never understood what those widgets are for. I have never seen a useful widget. I have never seen a widget that’s better than white space.
Over the last few years, Jay Tholen has carved out a niche as one of the more intriguing musicians operating on Christendom’s fringes. Like Danielson and Soul-Junk, Tholen’s music is likely to be overlooked and dismissed by many. Which is a shame, because like those aforementioned artists, Tholen’s music is both fascinating in its sheer bizarre-ness and deeply, unashamedly spiritual. Indeed, I daresay the two are intertwined, that Tholen’s musical oddity imbues his songs’ spirituality with added dimension and unique perspective. And if nothing else, it’s often a lot of fun to listen to.
“Fun”, however, is not a word I’d use to describe The Low Drone of Earth, which might be the darkest release in Tholen’s discography to date.
The band will be turned into Simpsons characters for the May 19th episode, and will also cover the show’s theme.
It’s May and warmer days should be well under way by now, but Lincoln has been beset by weather that seems better-suited for January (e.g., freezing rain, sleet). And the next few days look to be more of the same. I have no doubt that I’d enjoy Lockets’ “Surrender” any time of the year, but its winsomely nostalgic blend of ‘80s-esque guitars and synths is even more welcome in light of my city’s rather dreary weather.
The Philadelphia duet’s sound is just the sort of thing you want to listen to with the top down while cruising the streets or heading to/from a summer party with all of your friends — or at least while dreaming about it. And in light of our recent freezing weather, that’ll have to suffice.
Matt Zoller Seitz:
Most of all, I love how the show merges its individual silly bits into a crazy quilt of humanism, mocking each character’s myopia and self-importance at one time or another while insisting on his or her humanity. No sweet show is more cutting than Parks and Rec, or more perceptive about the tedious daily challenges of making the world work; ask anyone who’s worked in government, and they’ll tell you that for all its absurdity, this is the most realistic show ever made about their profession, just as any cop will tell you that their job often resembles episodes of Barney Miller, which consisted mainly of paperwork, office politics, and shooting the breeze. But it’s never a cynical slog… No current sitcom does a better job of making simple decency seem integral to the fullest enjoyment of life.
Parks and Recreation has replaced Community — which has had a very disappointing 4th season — as my favorite TV comedy, and Seitz does a fine job of explaining why.
Joel Oliphint for Christianity Today:
In 2010 the alt-metal band Tool, a group known for graphic content in its lyrics and album art, brought Wovenhand on tour as its opening act. On the more genteel end of the secular sonic spectrum, NPR invited Edwards to perform for the Tiny Desk Concert video series. So how is it that Edwards—in Wovenhand and also in his previous band, 16 Horsepower—is more at home with church outsiders than he is with those in CCM circles? What is it about his combination of lyrics and melody that appeals to music fans who don't share his worldview? How does he get away with it when so many others don't?
It comes down to consistently high standards of artistry. Edwards uses minor keys, theatrical vocals and a prominently featured, nylon-stringed mandolin/banjo hybrid from the 1880s to create a distinctive, instantly recognizable sound. The mood is often dark, even menacing at times, which is one reason Wovenhand appeals to fans of Tool and other heavy acts. You'll hear the influence of musicians like Nick Cave and Jim Morrison, but the sound isn't derivative. "New" doesn't necessarily equate to "good," but Wovenhand pulls it off. Edwards fits in right alongside fellow trailblazers and Sounds Familyre label mates Sufjan Stevens and Danielson.
Whereas most sitcoms find humor in the characters' selfishness - thereby exposing their inner demons - Parks and Rec finds it in their decency, thereby celebrating their inner angels. In a recent episode Leslie learned that her workaholic habits were keeping her from investing in the people she loves, while her friend Ann Perkins (Rashida Jones) realized her plan to deliberately have a child by herself was selfish. She then took steps toward a committed relationship with the child’s father. These plots could have been supremely cheesy, but Parks and Rec makes optimism something noble, not naive. These characters aren’t buffoons. They are people who believe in being good while staring into the face of a world that doesn’t understand their goodness.
Well put. My wife and I recently started watching Parks and Recreation — yes, we’re a little late to the game — and have loved it. It’s a very funny show, but more importantly, it’s a very funny show with a lot of heart, even when it’s at its most absurd and parodic.