Saturday, December 29, 2007

Top 5 Favorite Guitarists

OK... for all you music geeks out there. It's your chance to list your top 5 favorite guitarists. First of all, let me say that my choices are probably not the "traditional" favorites. I don't particularly enjoy blues or straight-up rock, so you won't find any Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn on this list. My "sound" is more along the lines of alternative guiatar, with plenty of atmospherics; I appreciate the guys who can create a tone. Here are mine, with expanded notes and ruminations.

1. The Edge from U2

Otherwise known as Dave Evans, this guy is my favorite, hands-down. He took what had been done before him and created his own sound. Using plenty of effects, no doubt, The Edge has created some of the most beautiful soundscapes on record. He uses tons of pedals. His sound is huge, with effective use of echo. I'm sure most of you have heard U2 (!!), but if not, be sure to listen to their work on headphones. My favorite album of theirs to hear Edge's work is 1984's "The Unforgettable Fire."

2. Jonny Greenwood from Radiohead

I first noticed JG as a guitarist on his own after listening to "The Bends" in my college apartment in 1995. It was an awesome album and still stands as my favorite of theirs today. Greenwood can make some amazing sounds come out of his guitar. His work is complex and fits in nicely with Radiohead's experimental nature. Listen to "Just" from "The Bends" to hear this guy's chops. J. Greenwood is sure to be a legend.

3. Johnny Marr from The Smiths

Yet another Johnny on the list. This guy is an icon. He has created some of the classics of late 80's/early 90's British alternative music. His sound is highly melodic. Marr pioneered much of the "alternative" sound of his era, using effects to make new sounds. His guitar work is sometimes referred to as "jangly." One of the best examples of his unique sound is the song "How Soon is Now?" Johnny Marr is currently playing in the band, Modest Mouse.

4. Brian Futter from Catherine Wheel

Brian Futter is one amazing guitarist. His style is sometimes called "shoegazing." Using large amounts of distortion, reverb, and echo, his work can make it seem like a "wall of sound" is being created. CW has a brutal sound, at times, and Futter's work shines through. Their most well-known song is "Black Metallic." If you want to hear a showcase of the guitarwork, I would recommend the song, "Strange Fruit," or "Crank."

5. Julian Swales from Kitchens of Distinction (he's on the right)

Probably the least-known of all the guitarists listed here, Julian Swales deserves some recognition, nonetheless. His sound is characterized by a swirling, chiming, echo-laden vibe. He was also grouped into the "shoegazing" class of music. Extremely atmospheric, Swales sounded like several guitarists layered over each other, even though it was just his one-man show. Many of his songs have such a chaotic, blisteringly beautiful sound, especially on headphones, where you can hear all the little details. Check out the songs, "When in Heaven," "Sand on Fire," and "Mad as Snow."

***** Honorable Mention: Kevin Shields from My Bloody Valentine; John Squire from The Stone Roses; Dean Garcia from Curve; Jez Williams from Doves; Graham Coxon from Blur; John McCollum from The Afghan Whigs; Thurston Moore from Sonic Youth; Andy Dunlop from Travis; Cammy from The La's; Joey Santiago from The Pixies ******

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Morbid Marketing

I was driving past Kennesaw Memorial Park & Mausoleums today and couldn't help but notice the phrase posted below their road sign.

"2008 Calendars are here."

I blinked and smiled. Similar in odd nature to the puzzling phrase on Marietta Middle School's road sign (blogged about by KTB awhile back), this is one that'll make you wonder. I could only imagine what some of that calendar's pages would look like:

I mean, I know they're a business and probably trying to just raise some funds, but I can't imagine this one jumping to the top of the NYT BestSellers List.

Apologies to all who have this heartwarming item hanging in their home or office.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

B2FII: The Poster

Yes, another post. And I'm really not trying to kiss up for B2FII. Really.

The Battle in our Hearts

I wanted to squeeze in one more post before B2FII. Do I qualify?? Kidding.

In our small group, we often are discussing something where the root cause of the problem is discovered to be: CONTROL. This really is the underlying root cause of everything in our lives --- who is in control? Ironically enough, Janet Jackson might've been a genius by naming her first album this very thing.

I was watching something on the History Channel last night (I never thought I'd end up watching this channel, but here I am in 2007, doing just that. I'm an old man) about time travel. It was documenting humankind's fascination with going forward or backward in time. There was some juicy stuff about Einstein's theories and the nature of wormholes (I never though I'd be interested in this subject in high school, but here I am in 2007, doing just that. I'm a nerd). All very interesting. Toward the end, they started talking about the possibility of going back in time to change the future. "Would it ever be possible," they said. "What would the consequences be for tweaking with past events," they inquired. Very, very intriguing stuff, indeed.

So, this made me think about our current status in the world's history. We live in the age where we've discovered so many things that once were mysteries to peoples of the past. Cures to diseases. The ability to predict weather systems with a fair amount of accuracy. Why things act the way they do. Of course, there are still some things out of our reach. The cure to the common cold. The ability to travel back in time to change our past.

These things are out of our control. Especially with time travel, I strongly believe we'll never gain that ability. This is one of those things that fall in the category of "out of reach." There are things that are God-abilities and things that are human-abilities. God controls time and space. Einstein might have discovered more than any other person in this area. We gained insight that is astounding. But we are limited to the knowing of it; we aren't allowed access to the altering of it.

On the History Channel show, there were so many scientists and professors brimming with excitement and hope at the possibility of time travel. There would be so much that could be controlled if this came to pass. We could be in charge of our destinies, both then, now. and later. We would essentially be our own gods.

However, with the way things are created, we are subject to the Lordship of Jesus. We either reject God as God or we accept God as God. This is the battle we face, day to day, in our own hearts. Who is in control? Who are we trusting? We either accept God and rely on his timetable, his will, his way or we rely on our own way. This is the way the world is running, headlong. Humanism has great belief in itself. Arrogance is at an all time high, in terms of what humans can accomplish. I believe we keep seeing little cracks in the wall, little mistakes, fallacies, that humans create, because of our choices. We continue, as a planet, to hurtle through history with the belief that we can make things right, we can find perfection on our own. I don't think so.

We must accept who we are and who God is. The miracle is that by doing this (admitting our shortcomings and our weaknesses), we begin a transformation. We don't end the process by accepting who we are as fallen humans. God begins to weave in his mercy to create a new person, one that becomes a renewed image of God's redemptive perfection. I know I have to choose God's way with each new dawn. Easier said than done, though. The battle rages on for each of our lives.