John Reuben: Greatest Christian Rapper Ever?

Artist: John Reuben
Album: John Reuben
Year: 2020
Grade: B-

In Brief: Smart as always, but a bit more scattered musically than Reubonic. It’s interesting for Reuben to drop a self-titled album this late into his career, and the broad array of sounds and moods on the rapper’s eighth full-length album certainly sounds like an amalgamation of who he is as a person. But this might be his most schizophrenic record – at least, out of the ones that aren’t that way by design.

Continue reading

What Am I Listening To? – February 2020

A combination of new releases that dropped in February, and entries from some of my colleagues’ 2019 best-of lists that I wanted to check out, has expanded my new music column to a whopping sixteen albums this month. Whew! It might be a few months out before I actually get around to fully reviewing any of this stuff, but for now…

Here are my first impressions of the latest from (deep breath…) Tall Tall Trees, Drive-By Truckers, Bruce Hornsby, black midi, Cage the Elephant, Caroline Polachek, Weyes Blood, The Lone Bellow, Green Day, Holden Days, Tennis, Tame Impala, Tyson Motsenbocker, John Reuben, Derek Webb, and The Secret Sisters.

Continue reading

What Am I Listening To? – January 2020

Since I was busy for most of this month writing up my Top 100 albums list for the last decade, I decided to put a moratorium on listening to new releases until I was done with that project, so that I could completely immerse myself in re-listening to all of those favorite album candidates. I made exceptions for newly released singles and whatever else Spotify’s Release Radar brought to my attention each week, just for the purpose of bookmarking new releases in order to listen to them in full when my project was done. At times it was hard to resist the temptation – especially since 2 of the artists from my lists put out new albums this month, another three surprises me with EPs, and also a member of one of the bands from my list put out a new collaborative album with a band I’d never heard of. So most of this list of new stuff I’ve been listening to for only the last week or so, ironically, covers artists I’ve already talked about in some capacity this month, with a few bands at the bottom of the list that are genuinely new to me.

Also, I realize I’ve got a slew of recommendations from others to get to, both in terms of favorite albums of theirs from 2019 that I slept on or just plain wasn’t aware of, and in terms of standout albums they’ve given kudos to from throughout the last decade that have piqued my interest for one reason or another. I’ll start on that daunting to-do list in February!

Meanwhile, here are my first impressions of the latest from Colony House, The Innocence Mission, Everything Everything, Switchfoot, John Reuben, Stabbing Westward, Sean Watkins & The Bee Eaters, Wolf Parade, and Bombay Bicycle Club.

Continue reading

The Best of the Tenny Tweens, Part III: 41-60

We’re at the midpoint of the list now… this is where the absolute best of the B-plus range starts to blend into the A-minus range. But first, some more fun facts (or at least, facts that a nerdy analytical guy like me considers fun), this time related to geography. Where in the world are all of these artists from?

Continue reading

Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2017: Favorite Albums (and Honorable Mentions)

Out of the increasingly eclectic list of albums that makes its way into my Spotify playlists (and eventually my physical collection, wherever possible), here’s the stuff that I enjoyed the most in 2017, and that I would absolutely recommend, with no reservations, to anyone whose favorite type of music can best be described as “stuff that challenges me in some way but that is always super catchy”. (Is that not a musical genre? it should be.)

Continue reading

Obsessive Year-End List Fest 2017: Favorite Songs

It’s that time of year again where I run through the list of songs that inspired me, entertained me, or just plain got stuck in my head for amusing reasons, more than any other songs in the last 12 months. Most of these were released in 2017. Some came out in 2016 and I either didn’t hear them until this year or didn’t come to fully appreciate them in time for last year’s list. I’ve given brief explanations and YouTube links for the Top 30. For the rest… just check the reviews where they’re linked, if you’re curious.

And as always, many of these songs (limit one per artist) are collected in my 2017 in a Nutshell playlist over on Spotify.

Continue reading

John Reuben – Reubonic: The dippity-doer done did it again.

2017_JohnReuben_Reubonic

Artist: John Reuben
Album: Reubonic
Year: 2017
Grade: A-

In Brief: The Christian rapper – who has become increasingly uncomfortable with how both aspects of that label describe his work – makes a surprisingly strong comeback after an eight-year absence. Reubonic is as offbeat and weird as a lot of his best work, and it has no pretense of wanting to be mainstream, but it also makes some excellent points in intriguing ways.

Continue reading

Divad’s Soundtrack #86: May-June 2010

“Movement” is the word that comes to mind when I think of the late spring and early summer of 2010. It’s a freedom that I almost feel like I was taking for granted, now that I’m thinking about it from the perspective of 2020. The month of May started off with a weekend trip to Vegas. In mid-June, I surprised Christine with another weekend trip, this time to Colorado, where we managed to cram in a National Park visit and one of my “bucket list” concerts all in a single day. In between the two, we moved to a new apartment – only 2 miles away from our old place on Granada near the train tracks, and still technically within the city of Alhambra, but close enough to its northern boundary to have a more peaceful “San Marino ambiance”. On the surface, we were turning over new leaves and doing a lot of fun things, and life was good. Deeper down, more of an unsettling sort of movement was going on. I can still remember the exact moment when a “dark epiphany” hit me that sent me into an emotional tailspin that I’d struggle with on and off for the better part of the next two years. As much as listening to this set of songs instantly brings back my excitement at the newness of our surroundings during that time, it also reminds me of some questions that haunted me at the time – things I would have never thought in a million years I’d ever have to wrestle with.

In with the New:
Paper Route

Out with the Old:
The Paper Raincoat
Joe Henry

Listen on Spotify:

Continue reading

The Best of the Ought Nots, Part I: 81-100

The beginning of a new year, 2010, and a new third digit in our numbering system for years that indicates I’ll likely never see another year with “0” in that slot for the rest of my lifetime, means that for the first time, this relatively young music fan gets to look back at entire decade (these things being commonly delineated by that third digit even if the technical scientific approach says our decade isn’t over until the beginning of 2011) and try to sum it all up in terms of the music that was meaningful to me over the course of nearly a third of my life. That’s right, I’m just a smidgen over 30, which means that the 2000’s (or the “Ought Nots”, as I’ve decided to call a decade of learning what not to do in retrospect) were my first full decade of being a true music fan. I might have come of age and finished high school and college in the 90’s, and I have my fair share of nostalgic tunes to whisk me back to those days. But this most recent decade was when I truly opened up, with the advent of file sharing and social networking making it remarkably easy to burst the bubble of “Christian music only” that I started out with, to go beyond the basic pop/rock styles largely dominant on the radio, and to really dig deep and find my own musical personality, unburdened by rumors of danger beyond the comfortable fences I had previously built for myself.

Continue reading