Worthwhile Organizations

October 2007

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Brave Saint Saturn

  • Brave Saint Saturn -

    Brave Saint Saturn: The Light of Things Hoped For

    Possibly the most compelling and well-executed album I have ever listened to, "The Light of Things Hoped For" by Brave Saint Saturn deserves its five-star rating. The concept album, which happens to be the second installment from BS2, continues to follow the USS Gloria on its mission to study Saturn and its moons. Stylistically, this project from Reese Roper and other members of Five Iron Frenzy (R.I.P.) very nearly defies description. They have been referred to as space-pop or astro-rock, though even these monikers do not do the style justice. Some of the songs on the album are simple acoustic ballads, while others make use of synthesizers, xylophones, and other instruments that are too often neglected by rock bands. Lyrically, BS2 hits a homerun with this album, with songs like "The Sun Also Rises," "Heart Still Beats," and "Daylight" giving testimony to their Christianity, and "Enamel," "Anastasia," and "Babies' Breath" speaking of love, and love lost. Brave Saint Saturn is an unorthodox band, nearly unknown in the mainstream and censored by their former label Tooth and Nail Records, but none of this detracts in the least from the stellar quality (no pun intended) of their latest album. The album is unavailable on iTunes, and only partially available on most other music downloading services, but it is well worth the price and shipping costs to order the cd from vendors online. Check out Brave Saint Saturn's "The Light of Things Hoped For" today! (*****)

Roper

  • Roper: Brace Yourself for the Mediocre
    "Brace Yourself for the Mediocre," is the first (and possibly only) album by Roper, the latest band started by Five Iron Frenzy and Brave Saint Saturn frontman Reese Roper. With Reese's characteristic high vocals, a bouncy pop-punk sound that resembles Five Iron Frenzy on speed (and with synthesizers instead of horns), and the intelligent lyrics that Reese can't seem to help writing, Roper's new album was made to be great. From start to finish, the album refuses to slow down, turning out one smart pop-punk anthem after another throughout the entire thirteen-song album. Whether the song involves social and religious commentary (e.g. "Quicksilver," "Hello Lamewads") or is just a playful exercise for Reese's tongue-in-cheek sense of humor (e.g. "Vendetta," "1985"), it's sure to be stuck in your head for a long time to come. (*****)

Showbread

  • Showbread -

    Showbread: No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical
    It's spastic, it's chaotic, and it's a masterpiece through and through. In No Sir, Nihilism Is Not Practical, Showbread struck a power chord with even this opponent of screamo. Think before you buy, for this album is not for the faint of heart, but if you can handle a seizurrific combination of screams and industrial-strength keytar, then this album is worth the money. Every song on the album is great for those who are tolerant of screamo or are looking to try something new, but even those of more sensitive tastes can appreciate songs like "Matthias Replaces Judas," (which by the way, features a guest appearance from Reese Roper). As an album, "No Sir..." stands in its disjointedness as a cohesive whole, and is a great investment... for those who can handle it, anyway. (*****)

  • Showbread -

    Showbread: Age of Reptiles
    "Age of Reptiles," Showbread's latest release, proves to be quite a departure from their previous spaz-rock album "No Sir, Nihilism Is not Practical." There is less screaming in the new album, and more straight-up alternative rock, perhaps to appease the faint of heart who no doubt went into cardiac arrest upon hearing music from Showbread's first album. Regardless, "Age of Reptiles" is a strong showing from the "raw rock" band, as they prove that they are not as one-dimensional as reviewers might have feared after the release of "No Sir..." A bit too polished at times, "Reptiles" still hits the mark on almost every song, and accomplishes something that "No Sir" did not... It plays songs melodically enough that listeners can sing along. (****)

Relient K

  • Relient K -

    Relient K: MMHMM
    As Relient K matures, they continue to amaze listeners who thought they just couldn't get any better. Though the band certainly had a lot of spunk when they put out their earlier albums (all the way through "The Anatomy of Tongue in Cheek"), they didn't to strike gold until their release of MMHMM, a lyrically and musically mature album with a pop-punk-done-right sound. Certainly an album that is worth the buy. (****)

  • Relient K -

    Relient K: Apathetic EP
    Relient K's latest work, the Apathetic EP, is just a continuation of this band's prolonged stroke of genius. Continuing the line of thought that produced "MMHMM," the Apathetic EP gives us four new songs (two electric, two involving Matt Thiessen and his piano) and three acoustic versions of previous songs ("Be My Escape," "Which to Bury, Us or the Hatchet," and "Over Thinking"), all of which add up to a great EP to whet the appetite of fans waiting to see what this band will think of next. (bonus: The band also released an acoustic version of "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" apart from the Apathetic EP, and it makes a great buy off of iTunes as well.) (****)

  • Relient K -

    Relient K: Five Score and Seven Years Ago

    How embarrassing. After at the very least two amazing albums and an EP, Relient K ends their streak of great music by popping out this monstrosity. The only words that come to mind after listening to this album several times are "What were they THINKING?!" The hooks are tired, the lyrics are uninspired, and the album is entirely disappointing. Even the potentially epic ballad "Deathbed" descends into preachy inanity by the second half of the song, though its first five and a half minutes are worth a listen. Do yourself a favor and don't waste your money on this album: Instead, head over to iTunes and spend a few bucks on the highlights of the album (which are shamefully few) "Faking My Own Suicide," "Deathbed," "Come Right Out and Say It," and depending on your tolerance level for the poppish, "Must Have Done Something Right." I know it's hard, but if you love Relient K, it's probably best that you not listen to the rest of the album; just wait it out, surely they'll return to their former glory on their next CD... Right? (**)

Emery

  • Emery -

    Emery: The Weak's End
    There is only one word to describe Emery's first major release: Tiresome. The Weak's End, an album with a very nice title and a great opening track, simply fails to deliver throughout the rest of the cd. Starting out with "Walls," which is perhaps Emery's best song to date, the album eventually descends into a mass of songs that are at best boring, and at worst downright frustrating. The first 2-4 songs on "The Weak's End" are in fact rather catchy, and certainly worth a listen (or a buy off of iTunes), but the entire album is a bit disappointing, with songs that run together or sound very much the same, and music which makes the listener dread reading the lyrics, for fear that they are as inane as the chord progressions and throbbing post-######## beat. Emery does in fact have a great deal of potential, but aside from "Walls" and "A Ponytail Parade," they did not at all reach it on "The Weak's End." (**)

Number One Gun

  • Number One Gun -

    Number One Gun: Promises for the Imperfect
    A little bit emo, a little bit rock and roll, Number One Gun pulls out a mediocre showing with their latest album "Promises for the Imperfect." The album starts off strong, with four or five catchy songs, but then falls off into the abyss of musical and lyrical cliches. The first half of the album, though, is great, and well worth buying off of iTunes (or whatever legal music downloading service you choose). Check them out today! (***)

eLi

  • :
    eLi is quite simply a talented musician. Most of his music is acoustic, and his songs very personal, often dealing with past experiences, persevering in the face of opposition, or simply comfort in the midst of a storm. Even if you don't like acoustic/folk music, don't count eLi out until you've given him a chance.

Eleventyseven

  • Eleventyseven -

    Eleventyseven: Eleventyseven and the Land of Fake Believe
    Eleventyseven's breakout album is nothing but fun. And that's pretty much it. Oh, I guess I should say more... But what is there to say about a band this crazy? They call themselves "Eleventyseven," a made-up number, and their most popular band t-shirt bears the slogan "Save the Unicorns!" How on earth could anyone take this band seriously? Well... you don't really need to. Sure, they're a little on the crazy side, but they're just out to have fun. To the band's credit, they are capable of writing serious songs, such as "MySpace," "Teenage Heartbreak" and "More Than a Revolution" in addition to typical (though catchy) pop-punk songs about breaking up and making up. While this synth-punk band really breaks no new ground musically or lyrically, they have a kind of energy that will serve them well as they grow. Eleventyseven's live show is wild and entertaining, and the band's music manages to stay focused on things more important than the teen angst that marks so many similar bands. Their album is worth looking into if you're a pop-punk fan in need of some good, light-hearted fun. (***)

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February 11, 2007

Comments

Emily

Awesome post! Very thought provoking. I am jealous of your mad writing skillz.

Nice hat, btw.

Paradoxically Correct

http://www.gisburne.com/

Tag'd, Jake. Read thee and maybe you'll find something to write about.

Peace.

Miserable Old Fool

Truth is, Ryan Cox makes a good point in Facebook comment. The case could be made that the freedom our troops are fighting for is our freedom to live in a country that has all the benefits of relatively cheap oil. That is not neccesarily a bad thing, if you think it through. If you stand by your contention that our govenrment should be purely secular, with only the interest of our populace as a driving interest, then it would indeed be proper to not only be in Iraq, but to actually go in with overwhelming brute force, subjugate them all (humane living conditions, of course), and then keep them fed and doctored while they pump our oil for us. The net savings on the oil could be used to finance the whole project.
Lest this should sound provincial, do not forget that much of the Western world is dependant, as are we, on relatively cheap oil to maintain the economic status quo. With this in mind, such a plan could even be seen as somewhat alruistic.

Just another perspective.

The Wanderer

If Christianity has no real stake in the government, from where does the government pull its morality? The government enforces rules. What rules should it be enforcing? With tolerance now so idealized, I would be hard pressed to think of any rule that everyone would agree on. It's like what you said - a democracy will reflect the common beliefs of the people.

While enforcing rules may not bring about a change of heart in people, it can make the world a little safer. Except infusing Christian values into any North American government would meet with such opposition that it would become somewhat totalitarian. Hmm. So much for democracy. And yet if that's not done, then we'll continue to see values disappear and the continent go to pot.

Shoot. We're hosed either way. Guess the government can't do much, here. Evangelists needed! (No, not those 'life-enhancement' preachers, or those 'be good and you'll make it' proselytizers, but those good, old fashioned 'here's the gospel, and this is what it means' people) This place needs a revival.

Ubersehen

Curious. I wonder if I could ask for clarification on a few points from the various folks who've contributed to this discussion so far.

-Jacob-

Even atheistic/agnostic secularists must find and enforce rules, and while they most certainly tend to believe in individual autonomy, more than that is needed to direct a government, and more than that cannot be agreed on because of the very nature of atheism/agnosticism.

What, according to you, is the nature of atheism/agnosticism, and, further, how does it prevent them from directing a government?

it is worth noting how well the American government stays out of religious affairs. It isn't perfect, but it's better than most, and believe it or not, this is a direct result of Christianity.

Which governments would you say stay out of religious affairs better than the American government? How does this affect their societies, in your esteem?

Now, true Liberty is in fact a Christian concept.

From wordnet.princeton.edu:
Liberty - autonomy: immunity from arbitrary exercise of authority: political independence.

In what way is Christianity the originator of this idea?

-Miserable Old Fool-

If you stand by your contention that our govenrment should be purely secular, with only the interest of our populace as a driving interest, then it would indeed be proper to not only be in Iraq, but to actually go in with overwhelming brute force, subjugate them all (humane living conditions, of course), and then keep them fed and doctored while they pump our oil for us.

What is it about a secular government that you believe would lead to this kind of inhumane behaviour?

Mark

I think you're confused about a few points.

Firstly, as a Jew with a great deal of contact with atheists and agnostics, I think you will find that religion and morality have little to do with each other in practice. Religion is certainly a fine approach to morality, but it is not the only approach.

From a more intellectual perspective, read some atheist and agnostic philosophers, and you will find that many of them were quite moral. Check out Kant and Spinoza, to name the two that I am most familiar with. Their points of view embrace morality and liberty without relying on a foundation of faith.

Finally, I think you are woefully ignorant about Islam. I studied Islam, and I can tell you that it is no less and no more religion of peace than any other. Just as you will find - in history and in current events - Jews and Christians who use their holy books and the writings of their predecessors to atrocities, so to will you find cruel and heartless Muslims. Similarly, however, you will find that many Muslim theologians throughout history preached love, peace, and forgiveness.

You are mistaking current events for eternal truth. Islam is currently engaged in a struggle with itself, and the faction that is on top is the most violent and intolerant. This was not always the case and need not always be the case.

I invite you to contact me at electricpaladin AT yahoo DOT com to continue this discussion, if you wish. The anonymity of the internet is often useful, but too often stands in the way of true dialog.

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