The Best of 2009: Now Departing for Stockholm, Hawaii, New Orleans, and Points Inland

The end of 2009 is upon us, friends. It was a year that many of us didn’t look forward to, already knowing to expect financial woes and potential job losses (if not already realized ones) going into it – a year where the unexpected road ahead seemed to promise more hardship than exciting new possibilities to explore. but a poor year for the world was a rich year for music – either because artists channelled their angst into some of the best songs they’d ever written, or because more and more of them were jumping ship on the big labels and finding freedom to go where their imaginations would take them even if the audiences weren’t as big as a result. Some found artful ways to downsize while others played it as over-the-top as they could in defiance of expectations. In the end, it was a more exciting year than I could have anticipated, one that has left me with a lot to look forward to.

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Divad’s Soundtrack #79: March-April 2009

There’s a lot of war, betrayal, decay, and destruction that plays out over the course of these two discs. You wouldn’t guess it right away from a lot of the up-tempo song selections, nor from the downright worshipful songs that bookend the set, and certainly not from the lovely scenery taken from a few of my favorite hikes that got chosen for the the cover art. This didn’t come from some weird place of turmoil in my own life – either it was a reflection on conflicts going on in the world at the time, or else I just sort of realize a theme was pulling itself together in the individual songs I was enjoying around that time, and I put them together in such a way that it really emphasized the common thread between a lot of them. There’s also some weird stuff about astronauts and aliens here and there… and a few songs that were chosen to commemorate an unusually warm Southern California spring. So it’s not all dark clouds and disasters and bullets and bombs and blood. But yeah… I guess it’s mostly that.

In with the New:
The Reign of Kindo
Neko Case
Doves
Sara Watkins (as a solo artist – appears previously with Nickel Creek)

Out with the Old:
Third Day
Delirious?
Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts

Listen on Spotify:

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Divad’s Soundtrack #76: September-October 2008

In the fall of 2008, I was struggling with the idea of change. Some doors were closing in my life – experiences I had greatly enjoyed had come to their natural end, and my natural instinct was to fight that. My whole concept of what it meant to be a Christian in a contentious political climate leading up to the election that year was changing pretty radically. And I can see in this set of songs I put together at the time that there is a lot of coming and going represented in the lyrics here, a lot of leaving people and reuniting, and a lot of need for the assurance that no matter how much change we go through, how much we kick and scream and protest what God is trying to do in us or in the world around us, or how much our very concept of faith might evolve as we leave behind the innocence of youth, God’s love for us is the one permanent thing that will never change.

In with the New:
TV on the Radio
Capital Lights

Out with the Old:
Edison Glass
Sarah Masen

It Was Worth a Try:
Family Force 5

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Divad’s Soundtrack #75: July-August 2008

I’m just now realizing how richly nostalgic a lot of the summer imagery is within this set of songs I put together ten years ago. In August of 2008, Christine and I embarked on a truly epic road trip through the Southwestern states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. With the exception of our previous trip to Las Vegas, Christine had never been to any of these states before, and I hadn’t been to that part of the country in quite a while myself. On this trip we took in the Grand Canyon, Sedona, the Valles Caldera region of northern New Mexico, Santa Fe, some superlative sections of the Colorado Rockies, Salt Lake City, three Utah National Parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, and Zion), and finally Vegas on our way back to L.A. It took 12 days, and it tested my limits as a driver in ways that taught me to think more carefully about how many hours on the road I’d be committing myself to on future trips. But it was a great bonding experience that taught us we could enjoy nothing but each other’s company for long stretches of time out on the open road, and to this day it’s one of my most fondly remembered trips.

In with the New:
Fleet Foxes
Katie Herzig
My Morning Jacket

Out with the Old:
Fauxliage
Drive-By Truckers
Ivoryline

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Divad’s Soundtrack #60: January-February 2006

There are certain years in my life that I’m heavily nostalgic for. Just seeing the number “2006” brings a flood of memories back, most of them incredibly happy ones. It’s not the only such year, but it’s the example that comes to mind most readily when I ponder which year’s been by favorite so far. It was the first year that Christine and I really got to settle in as newlyweds, with big dreams but no pressure to make big plans in the near-term future, and with the stress that lingered throughout most of 2005 finally gone, this to me is where the “honeymoon” truly started on a more emotional level.

In with the New:
Thrice
KT Tunstall
Calexico

Out with the Old:
Bethany Dillon
Ken Oak Band
Nichole Nordeman
Chris Tomlin

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Divad’s Soundtrack #59: November-December 2005

Turmoil finally gave way to a sense of peace and hope for the future as 2005 drew to a close. An important event in our lives toward the end of that year was the marriage of our longtime friends Danny and Cheryl, which followed about four months after our own wedding. Somewhere right around then was when it felt like we got to resume the “honeymoon phase” of our own marriage after a difficult few months had sort of temporarily knocked me out of it.

Out with the Old:
Mat Kearney
The Juliana Theory
Rebecca St. James

It Was Worth a Try:
M.I.A.

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