My Favorite Music (according to my Zune)

WSo, like any good modern media software, the Zune tracks the number of plays you have for each song.  As I noticed that I was approaching 25,000 total plays, I figured I'd take a look at my top artists, just for fun.  It's one thing to say a certain band is your favorite... it's another to add stats to it! 8 Gnarls Barkley 7 The Decemberists 6 Over the Rhine 5 Ryan Adams 4 Sufjan Stevens 3 The Killers 2 Eisley 1 Tegan and Sara   Other notables (200 or more plays from the band):
  • Nick Cave
  • They Might Be Giants
  • Meg & Dia
  • Josh Ritter
  • Jon Foreman
  • Silversun Pickups
  • Glen Hansard
  • Modest Mouse
  • The Pipettes
  • Damien Rice
  • Queen
  • The Myriad
  • Scarlet Johansson
  • Johnny Cash
  • Derek Webb
  • Vigilantes of Love
  • Belle & Sebastian
  • Griffin House
  • Tom Waits
  • Tokyo Police Club
  • Kerli
  • Ray LaMontange
  • The Frames
And, since the stats are right there for me to type in, my Top 8 albums (not sure of the order, though):
  • With Arrows, With Poise - the Myriad
  • Anywhere I Lay My Head - Scarlett Johansson
  • Orphans: Brawlers, Brawlers and Bastards - Tom Waits
  • Something Real - Meg & Dia
  • The Odd Couple - Gnarls Barkley
  • We Are the Pipettes - The Pipettes
  • Combinations - Eisley
  • Songs for Christmas Singalong - Sufjan Stevens
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Hollow Gamerscore Points: Rock Band and the Pixies

My buddy Kris and I have played Rock Band far too much.  Last night, I purchased the Pixies Doolittle album for it (mmm... such good music!).  While joyously reliving my teen years through the album, we were jamming out to one of the tracks, "Silver," when we decided to try it on expert (we usually play on hard, with the occasional expert setting). 'Silver,' on Rock Band, on Expert, on the drums, is quite possibly one of the easiest songs in the game.  And, for my efforts, I got 100% on the song.  And the first 100% you get on expert comes with a little chime:

Oh, the torn emotions!  On one hand I was estatic because it's an achievement I've been working hard for, furthering my drumming skills since we got the game.  But... I feel like it's a hollow victory.  I didn't get the achievement from doing the hard work that it suggests!  I will always feel empty with these 10 pts, because it feels like I should have done more to earn them.  Alas, alas. (But I have to admit... it feels good to have unlocked it, within the confines and rules of acquisition.  So if you're fed up and need to unlock this achievement... go buy Silver.  You, too, will earn the hollow victory that will now plagues my conscience.)
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Where Are the Beatles?

So tonight, Ashley and I watched Across the Universe, the Beatles musical.  The movie was - literally - trippy, and the music was simply astounding.  As it should be; it is the Beatles, after all. As I was watching the movie, I recognized most of the music but there were some songs that I hadn't heard before (I really loved "Dear Prudence" and "Happiness is a Warm Gun," both of which were new to me).  Here's the probelm with the Beatles, though: they aren't accessible to me. While watching the movie I thought, "man, I need to download their music" since I have a Zune Pass and can download whatever I want.  But it's not there.  Amazon MP3?  Nope.  iTunes?  Not there either. The only way to get the Beatles music is via CDs.  And I don't buy CDs. It's not that I couldn't go out and buy a CD... obviously that's humanly possible.  I just... don't.  I don't want the cluttler.  I don't want to have to keep up with a disc.  I don't want to be bothered to go to the store.  I don't want to have to buy a whole album if I only want a few songs.  It's just not how I consume my music anymore. So here I am, a willing customer.  I want to listen to the Beatles and would love to get to put their stuff on my computer, and let their art entertain me.  But - because I'm spoiled with the convience of doing everything digitally - it's not going to happen until someone convinces them to put it out there. I jsut don't understand why it's not out there?  In today's fast moving marketplace, why would a band so integral to the shape of today's music not want to be involved in today's marketplace?  Why silo your work to an old media type that people would be fighting over to be able to distribute for you?  Seriously... it's not that hard to publish content online. Ah well.  It's a shame that the Beatles don't want me to listen to their music.  Instead, I just got the Across the Universe soundtrack, and it's pleasing to my ears. When you decide to play nice, Beatles, I'll be waiting.
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100_1220Due to popular request of my own, I have posted the lyrics to Spicey Boot's hit single, SPACE!  Recorded (and written) live in Seattle, WA, this piece of musical genius is a lifechanging work of art.  Feel free to listen here or at Spicey Boot's MySpace page! SPACE!!! Space! Space! Spaaace! We gotta go to space! We gotta go to space! Gotta gotta gotta gotta gotta go to space! Yearahh... (i have no idea)... Yearahh... (i have no idea what i'm saying here) Yeeeahhhh! We're gonna fly away into the sky. (something about cars..?) Spaaaace! Gotta go to space!  We're gonna go to space! Space is where we'll live! Space is where we'll live! Space, space, gotta go to space! Gotta get my face, 100_1163into space! Space is where we'll live on day! We'll meeeet! We'll meet all the aliens in space.  We'll meet all the aliens in space.  We'll meet them all, we'll meet them all, we'll be friends with all the aliens in the... Space! We gotta go to space! Gotta got to space! Space, whoooooa! We'll take a rocketship, all the way!  We'll take a rocketship, out today! We gotta go to space! N! A! S A will get us to space! Ohhhh... they're building technology.  Ohhh... they're building technology. They're building a space rocket to take us to Saturn, we're gonna go all the way, all the way to Mars - we'll even go, down to Pluto! We'll even go down to Pluto! Space! Gotta go to space! Gotta go to space! WHOOOOAAA! WHOOAA!! (i have no idea...) beautiful is space, beautiful is space... beautiful is space. In the deep of space (i think?  who knows...).  We'll live in space, with the aliens.  There will be peace in space between the humans and the aliens.  But we will be confused because to them, we will be the aliens. We will not be the humans but we will be the aliens to the aliens. And the aliens will greet us. Space! Gotta go to space! Gotta go to space! Space, space, all the way! It's a race, it's a race to space! Gotta go to space! Space, space, all the way! Take some friends to space! Space! Space! Space! Space!
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What's Really Happening with the Zune

I bought a zune because I saw the vision Microsoft had for the XBox 360, and I fully understood the direction they were going to take the zune.  and now, with the software version 2.5, they are oh so close to being there. Zune, when it first launched, used the tagline of "Join the Social."  The product was pretty much made fun of for using that tagline out of the gate; the Zune wasn't quite a full fledge social device right away.  The only real social aspects was the ability to share songs from one device to another, but even that had (and has) very limited restrictions. 2.5 has introduced a slew of new features that bring the Zune into the real social arena. First off is a  much better implementation of the Zune Card (the equivalent of an XBox 360 GamerTag).  You can view my actual profile page here (it's flash, and WordPress doesn't like flash objects.  Shame on you, WordPress!).  There's also a Facebook App that plugs the Zune Card into your profile there. But, none of that is the innovative stuff.  Anyone can have a webpage and put content on it and that are third-party iTunes plug-ins that do the same stuff. Send me music About two weeks ago, however, I go a message from one of my Zune friends, Ceaserisok.  Ceaser is a big fan of Tokyo Police Club, as you should be too because they're awesome (my fav song being "Nature of the Experiment"), and when they're new album came out he sent a message to everyone on his friends list that included the album. Since I have a Zune pass, from the message I just clicked a button and *POOF* my computer downloaded the new album and I started listening to it right away.  Music just got a touch more social... I don't have to just tell you how good something is, I can message you the album. Show me music As life, work, our social lives and our dreams all continue to collide and entertwine, Microsoft did something else very smart: they hired people who love music.  Select members of the Zune team are now considered Zune DJs; when you create a Zune profile these special six are automatically your friends.  What does that matter? Just like the 360 GamerTags, when you're using the Zune you get to see what your friends are doing.  In the case of Zune, you get to see exactly what your friends are listening to, in real time.  If you see something you've never heard before you might get to discover things. I know, you can do similar things with Last.FM (which I'm also a big fan of).  But this is integrated, out of the box.  And, it's tied to your 360 account... suddenly your GamerTag has a dual nature to it... and I'm all for aggregating my information.  With Zune there are just so many ways to discover music.  I still play with iTunes because I upload media to idea at work, and I get so confused with the limitations on their software.  I feel like I'm just looking at a datbase.  I'm not sure how to place my finger on it... but the Zune software makes me feel like I'm in a record store.  I don't know if they planned that or not, but it's what happens.  Invariably if I sit down to download a new album, I discover 4 or 5 more to grab along with it. Sync me music Now we're getting to the really cool stuff. Once I friend you, if I have a Zune pass, I can sync your music to my system.  I can sync another Zune Card with my Zune device and, as such, Zune will automatically pull in any playlists associated with that Zune Card.  Can I repeat how cool that is?  It's a social experiment in sharing music. No, this isn't an ad for the Zune Enough about what I think about the Zune itself.  What this post is really about what is happening with the Zune.  The software/device is allowing just one more thing become social and intertwined.  Where the Zune is innovating is that they have figured out a way to connect something as varied and complex as the music we like and listen to into the cloud of the internet, to be able to be pulled back down wherever. iTunes is for people who like certain musicians.  Zune is for people like music. WIth iTunes you go in, you look for the band you like, you part with your money, and you talk about how cool band so-and-so is.  WIth the Zune (if you have a Zune pass), you go in, look for the band you like, and find bands you've never heard of or forgotten long ago and download 5 albums.  And you don't have to tell people how cool a band is because they can SEE how much you like them.  Better yet, if they have a Zune as well... they can HEAR how much you like them. Zune is going to let the small bands win.  Being the underdog has allowed Microsoft to innovate, and with the Zune they have.  The only question is how long it will take people to realize that being an Apple fanboy isn't the best choice for people who truly want to hear new and good music.
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Jon Foreman's "Your Love is Strong"

I love dramatic, emotionally moving music.  It gives me a taste of another artists dreams/struggles/desires and helps to rekindle thoughts of my own.  95% of the time, however, the really good stuff is about breaking up or things of that nature. So upon listening to Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot)'s "Your Love is Strong" three times in a row today because it hits that emotional chord just right for how I feel spiritually, full of hope and yearning for God to simply be God... I figured I'd throw it out here, just in case you (yes, you!) hadn't heard it yet. You can listen to it here. Lyrics are here.
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Valentine's Day/Romantic Movie Advice

A few weeks ago, Ashley and I watched one of the most beautiful movies about relationships I've watched.  The intimacy and character development between Glenn and Marketa in this movie is simply stunning.  And the character development is almost as good as the music. The movie is called "Once," and it's basically a vehicle for Glenn Hansard to play his music in a movie.  The relationship portrayed in the movie is just quirky enough to be real, and is one of the few times I've been drawn into the discovery as well.  The movie was able to show the hesitation and awkardness that comes with discovering the life of someone else so well, romantically or not. The conflict of the relationship is handled so well, too. The movie isn't a happy-ever-after romantic comedy, but it does such a good job at exploring relationships that I think anyone who care about discovering another person should take the time out to experience the music and story of Once.  (Ashley and I rented it via Amazon Unbox, and the quality was actually quite good!  If you've got a computer hooked up to the TV or can stream it somehow, try watching it that way.  The rental is only $2(!)... hooray for cheap, deep dates!)  (Seriously, only $2?  It's worth it for the music alone.  Glenn's music is simply stellar.) (I should probably give Andy props for introducing me to Glenn's music... thanks, Andy!)
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Congratulations to Addison Road

When I was working for Fuge, I used to go around to all the major camp sites and help set up the lighting and sound at each location.  It was during one of these trips that I got to meet a simply great band, Addison Road.  Their music was unique, Jenny had a great voice, and they were genuinely caring people, living a great balance of life, rock & roll, and ministry.  I still remember smiling at the young love so unashamedly shown between Jenny and her husband, Ryan. A few months later I got to work on the youth VBS project for LifeWay.  It was on a shoestring budget, but they wanted to do something cool and high-quality.  I was able to connect with a few of my musician friends and we ended up putting together what was basically an indie Christian CD that was included in every member book for the students that year.   One of the five groups that agreed to be a part of the project was, of course, Addison Road.  Back then I knew they were on the brink of being break out stars.This week, Addison Road is the featured iTunes giveaway.  All the millions of people who hit the iTunes Store this week will get a chance to download their new single, All That Matters, for free.  Make sure you jump in there and download it as well; I promise you, they're an awesome band. And, as a throwback, here's the video that Jeff Lyons shot for the VBS disc with the band.
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Mike Harland and the new Twila Paris CD

As a part of my job at LifeWay, I get to work with placing our media on iTunes.  Typically, I'm a bit at the back end of the process, loading things up once production on a disk is finished (this is going to change, soon).  Back in December I got a frantic call about needing an ISRC code for the new Twila Paris CD that LifeWay was putting out.
Curious about such a large project for us, I began to ask around about who I could talk to about the album.  Ended up that the best person for the job was Mike Harland - the director of LifeWay Worship.  So not only was this the first time I've done a video interview with a director, it was the first time I did one with someone I had never met before.

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Q: Jeff Johnson | Hip-Hop

Jeff Johnson educated me.  He took us through the ins and outs of the history of hip-hop culture and its effect on global culture in 18 minutes.  I don’t really feel at all adequate to go through and try to detail that history… but wow.  He knows his stuff.

He talks about how in other countries, where they don’t even have MTV, where they are in the midst of civil war, you can find G-UNIT written in graffiti or purchase Eminem posters.  How has hip-hop gotten to a point where it is spread across the world, even where the music isn’t supposed to be available?

Hip-hop came out of a post-civil rights movement; the integration was happening, but the economic benefits had yet to reach the black youth of the day.  They were disenfranchised and had no voice; so they created the voice of hip-hop.  Suddenly they had a voice.

The problems came first when someone realized they could make a product of that voice and sell it.

The problem now is that, as Johnson puts it, hip-hop is being created by a “post-soul generation.”  It used to be that someone in the family had a spiritual influence on the youth; the parents, the aunt, the brother – someone.  But now there are people growing up with no one to reel them back in.  Now, as Johnson describes it, you have 40-year-old grandmas clubbing with their daughters.

I understood Johnson’s challenge to the church to be to stop excusing and ignoring race and the cultures of the diverse races.  We are more comfortable saying Jesus wouldn’t see color instead of dealing with the realities that differences make us great.  Johnson suggests there is still racism in the church –that a black person isn’t a “black” person when they’re a part of your church.

The point of hip-hop in our conversation is that it’s an example of how it transcends ethnic and cultural communities without shedding who “I am”.  Instead, when we can create together, our diverse backgrounds can add value.  Unfortunately, we most often get “urban ministry” that is, and I quote, “suburban ministry in blackface.”  The white church needs to “remove the fakeness” – a young black man will see it, because “I am us.”


I really enjoyed this session.  Johnson is obviously passionate about his craft and how it creates culture.  It was also good to have just a completely different style of speaker than I’m used to.  Johnson just oozed with passion and you knew that in those 18 minutes he was telling us the most important things he knew to say to us.

For me, the best thing out of this was the reminder to not ignore race.  I need to always remember that other people come from different memories.  How I remember church growing up is not how my brother who is Asian remembers it.  How I remember celebrating Christmas is not how my sister who is Black remembers it.  How I remember my first day on the job is not how my Hispanic neighbor remembers it.  There are deeper stories and deeper disconnects there than I might expect.  Instead of being afraid of them, we’ve got to rejoice in them; and your story can make my story a better one.

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music for photos

rock* Originally uploaded by aaronlinne. had first real frustrating night with the camera.... lots of pictures turend out blurry, out of focus, etc. it was disappointing to look at 141 photos and only a couple of them be decent, and even les be "good". I guess it's ok to have an off night. I need to learn more about what I"m actually doing with this camera. Shooting from a distance to a stage deffinately takes some finesse. One of my problems, I think, is that the drummer was really well lit, but Sh4wn wasn't. As suck, it was messing up my shutter, focus, etc. Like I said, I need to learn some of the more technical stuff so I can shoot more manually. On a good note, however, lowercase collective rawked tonight. Even though I've been to dozens of the shows, I'm usually performing with them as a VJ. We didn't do that tonight, so I got to see the actual show and se them rock out. They haven't played out in a few months, but they seemed tighter as a band than ever. Seriously good job, guys

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MirrorMask Lyrics: "If I Apologised"

listen If I apologised it wouldn't make it all unhappen wouldn't make the darkness go away If I apologised it wouldn't mean I was forgiven wouldn't mean you wanted me to stay But it's a dream when you seem to be walking into the sun we're on first unrehearsed and we still don't know what we've done so we don't say anything. If I apologised I don't suppose you'd even notice even though I'd whisper it inside If I apologised we could be the perfect couple Well we could, but only in my mind but if you ask for the mask then we're stumbling on through the dark But we wait it's too late And we only had to be asked so we don't say anything. It couldn't hurt to try it It couldn't hurt too much to try It's there beyond the quiet it couldn't hurt too much to fly...
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Quotes from Nick Cave

"though the love song comes in many guieses.... they all address God. For it is the haunted premise of longing that the true love song inhabits" "i believe the love song to be a sad song, for it is the noise of sorrow itself" "we all experience within us... (some portuguse word, which means) an inexplecibable longing; an unamed and enigmatic yearning of the soul." "longing is the desire to be transported from the darkness into light" "the love song is the light of God, deep down, blasting up through our wounds" "the love song must resonate with the whispers of sorrow and the echoes of grief. the writer who refuses to explore the darker regions of the heart wil never be able to write convincingly about the wonder and the magic and the joy of love. for just as goodness cannot be trusted unless it has breathed the same air as evil - the enduring metaphor of Christ crucified between two criminals comes to mind here - so within the fabric of the love song, within its melody, its lyric, one must sense an acknowledgement for its capaticty for suffer."
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Random Acts of Memory

So as I was driving yesterday, I was hit with a random memory. I don't know why it suddenly came to me, but it did. So the year was 2001 and my friends James, Jeremiah and Chris were in Houston, TX. While waiting for a bus, we struck up a conversation with one of the other guys waiting. He asked why we were in town and, our obvious answer was... "We're a band on tour." So what does he do? He invites us to play at his church in the morning. So... after explaining that we weren't really a band, he comes back and hangs with us at our hotel for a bit. Where my guitar was. Which he saw. Which lead him to invite ME to play/sing at church the next morning. So I did. And that, my friends, is how Aaron ended up playing a song he wrote at a black church in Houston, TX.
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at risk

at the risk of offending many of my friends... i just realized that a lot (not all) of worship leaders/bands are kind of like cover-tunes artists. not that that's bad, per se. i have several friends (sh4wn, thomas, etc) who mix their original material in with cover-tunes. i like that. but others are just straight cover artists. sort of. i mean, they try to put their own spin on the music... sometimes. sorry. just random thoughts that i'm sure will offend... but it seemed like such an epiphany.
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