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Living in NYC

Stories for Friends. Advice for Strangers.

Category Archives: Music in NYC

It’s Andrew Peterson. He is a songwriter, performer and writer who has been doing what I consider to be some of the finest work coming out of Nashville in the last 10 years. I’ve seen him a couple of times, once to hear him perform “Behold the Lamb of God,” a brilliant iteration of the story of Christmas, which is a small picture of the great story of redemption being written through the very lives of those who believe in Jesus. He blew me away.

Peterson released another album today, and it just wouldn’t be right to let the sun go down without telling you about it. You can preview it here. Give him a try if you haven’t already. I know he won’t let you down.

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Dr. Dog released an album recently. Shame, Shame. If you’re thinking hip hop, you’re wrong. If you’re not thinking about anything, I can’t blame you.

Dr. Dog is pretty good.

There. If you hear about this album or this band in two years, listen to them and love it, it won’t be my fault that you wasted two years with good ears not listening to them. I’d risk not liking it now if I were you.

My beloved readers, I honor you. Hoorah!

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I saw Sandra McCracken and Derek Webb a few weeks ago in Williamsburg. She wrote some of my favorite new hymns, and this year they toured together in support of her most recent album, New Old Hymns. Derek produced it. They are married, although you wouldn’t suspect that if you saw them in Williamsburg. Maybe it was just that show.

My most powerful memory of them is from an RUF summer conference in the panhandle of Florida. It was 2004, I think. They played for us on the last night, and I was in the front row. After singing for a couple of hours¬†that felt like seconds, they spoke to us. Their commitment to living by faith honestly grabbed a piece of my brain that night and has held on ever since. I remember Sandra talking about the sin we hide – we all do it. She said that the best thing that could happen to us is for our sins to be laid bare for everyone to see. If we had nothing to hide, we wouldn’t have anything to lose, and we would be much more powerful witnesses to a dying world.

This preface serves to illustrate my affection and unending bias for this couple. They have been monumental advocates of a faith I can relate to and strive for. With that said, I will reveal what I am listening to right now, and why you should, too.

In February of 2008, Derek and Sandra released Ampersand EP. It is 6 songs. Beautiful production. Seasoned song writing. Quintessentially Nashville. Honest and lovely. I am genuinely pleased every time this EP comes across on iTunes. My favorite is “When The Lights Go Out.”

Buy it, listen to it, and tell me what you think.

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Amber and I just landed in Atlanta where we will rendezvous with friends and head to Manchester.

Lots of great music (and rain) is in store. I’m most excited about sharing this experience with my wife.

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Sometimes when we walk in Manhattan I hear a sound that nearly stops me in my tracks. It is only an instant Рa split second of mixed emotion Рfear, anxiety, excitement, remorse, empathy, anticipation and an utter sense of loss. What could do this? What noise could have such power? The receipt printers in yellow cabs sound exactly like the smoke monster from Lost.  It gets me every time.

There are other sounds in the city that wield their own cathartic power. When a train breaks inertia to leave the subway station, it makes the most ominous sound. Imagine the exact moment that the knife-wielding psycho in your favorite horror flick goes for the kill. It’s that sound effect, and it is creepy. Oddly enough, it becomes soothing after a while. Sirens almost always build anxiety, but to keep things interesting around here the local authorities seem to have dispatched a DJ with every ambulance and fire engine. So, when you hear a siren approaching, you know you’re in for a loud, exhausting and unique sound.

An urban environment seems to breed a uniquely urban aesthetic. You see it everywhere in visual art. It pops up in familiarly urban cuisine. Even the music lends itself to the environments in which it is created. I posted a link to Ratatat’s LP4 a week ago. It is their forthcoming album, and it was written in New York City. (They reportedly live in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn.) After listening to it a few times, I began to notice something remarkable. With headphones on, I can easily drown out the buzz of the city. But with this particular album, I felt a degree of synchronicity just subtle enough to sense without noticing. I put it on our home stereo while doing the dishes one early evening, and its full effect struck me. But it was more than congruence or a pleasing sound – it is actually harsh and discordant at times. The music intertwines with city noise, sirens included, creating a harmonious listening experience that interacts with its environment. I have never heard anything like it before. Was it an accident, or was their music really influenced that much by it the city where they wrote it? I will start looking for this in other music, and if you notice anything similar, please let me know.

A few months ago, my friend Alan told me to “look up” in the city more. I did, and I was glad for it. Now I am telling you to listen up in your environment more. I’ll bet you’ll be glad you did. Happy Thursday.

This electrorock duo creates this magic in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn. Really good stuff – a slight deviation from LP3, but with some added richness and tonal quality. It’s streaming on NPR this month.Check it out and let me know what you think.

Ratatat LP4 Streaming on NPR.org

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There is a song. I think it’s POP. Cascada sings it (whatever that means), and it is truly infectious. The hits are huge, the words are catchy, and it is overproduced the way I like them.

But the video…

I won’t even link it because it’s so bad. If you like the song and want to keep enjoying it when it comes on the uhaul radio, DO NOT WATCH IT. if you don’t care, Google it and describe the resulting taste in your mouth in a comment here.

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