Music and Art Monday, Jan 21,2019: El Clásico

Putting a giant rooster head on your album cover? I’m sold!

“El Clásico” is the only album by the St. Augustine band The Young Steps.

Even though it’s two years old, it’s new to me in my browse through local music. I must say, it’s a trip!

The album starts out strong with Baby You Know, a raucous and repetitive tune perfect for blazing down the interstate. Gonna add that one to my driving music list.

Nature Man will have you dancing in the kitchen, and that little whistle will be stuck in your head for days.

Dire Straits is channeled in The Weather, another back beat driven song for the road. It’s subtle, but when you listen you’ll know what I mean.

After this is where the album starts to slip. The songs aren’t bad, but you begin to realize the repetitive nature of the lyrics. I needed a bit of a palette cleanse at this point. Might I suggest the “This is Christina Perri” playlist?

Ahhhhhh, refreshing!

Now that you have stepped away and been refreshed, “El Clásico” comes roaring back to life with Yoga, When I Was Young, Will-O’-The-Wisp, Of Your Love, and the exceptionally fun Dark Side of Town.

It’s a short album, and great for when you need something musically interesting, but I can’t listen to it over and over again. To me it required a break, even in the middle, to quiet my highly alerted neurons.

Perhaps it’s a little too exciting?

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Music and Art Monday, Jan 14, 2019: Loretto

After last week’s post, I decided it might be fun to run down the Spotify rabbit trail of local Jacksonville bands and review one each week. Lest you think I’m going to start pining over local bands, here’s a review that’s not so positive. Loretto is a self described “rock n’ roll band”, as such I expected some more classic type rock. What I got on their only album so far, Sleeping In The Pines, was a mixed bag of experimentation and indie noise with a few gems hidden here and there.

Honestly I didn’t like it at all at first. But when I turned it on at 5 am this morning I realized that it’s “mood music” meaning you have to be in the mood. This album is perfect for my 5 am mood. It is messy and disheveled, slightly grumpy, but optimistic about the future.

Ordinarily rejecting commercial appeal results in complete garbage, garbage that hipsters will lap up and pretend to like, because “they are not part of the system!”. Kinda like IPA’s. But this album is more a sour than an IPA.

Once you have more than one you begin to like it. Once you listen to this album a few times the intricacies begin to come out, and your palette is pleased to find a bit of depth, not just bitter hoppy nonsense. Wait. This is an album review, not a critique of beer flavors. Best tracks?

“Alaska” is by far the best song on this album. If you download one song on Spotify it should be this one.

“Things We Said Today” and “Pick Me Up” are also pretty decent.
The rest. Well, the rest is “mood music”. Give it a go, and if you don’t like it immediately, try again later.


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Music and Art Monday, Jan 7 2019: Home To Roost

Hello all, short post today. It’s been awhile since I gave a recommendation for a band, because honestly it’s rare that I should find one that I like enough to recommend.

Today’s recommendation is a new album by a local band I would have never discovered had it not been for a mother’s gushing pride. An acquaintance of mine from the life drawing sessions I attend noticed my Nirvana t-shirt and asked if I liked them. She said “you have to listen to this band, they’re like Nirvana. And my son got writing credit because he plays on this song!”

I like localism. If there’s one trendy thing I’m guilty of indulging, it’s the trend to try out all the local stuff, from breweries to restaurants to record stores and art galleries. So I said what the heck and gave Viewers Like You’s “Home to Roost” a listen on Spotify.

First impression? “This is not at all like Nirvana!”

Which is not a bad thing. Viewers Like You (look them up as “Fernway” on Facebook) sounds a lot like All-American Rejects, Phantom Planet, and another Jacksonville local band Yellowcard. It’s happy music for the most part, with a twinge of emo here and there.

Top songs? Definitely the band’s single “Anamnesis”, “Absentee”, “Back to Life”, and the track my friend’s son plays on “Worth Your Time”.

While I love the guitar riff in “Perfect” the lyrics are a bit cringey.

So give it a listen and see what you think! The band has gone from 39 monthly listeners to 68 since Wednesday, let’s see if we can get that number up!

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Music and Art Monday: Why Create?

There are probably millions of people who paint out there. Millions more who write songs, and millions more than that who make some other kind of craft. Huge quantities of objects and notes are created and pumped into the world.

How much of this ends up dumped in trash cans or fireplaces or never heard again once that person is gone?

Several years ago I found an oil painting next to someone’s trash pile. It was slightly damaged but I felt compelled to save it. A search of the internet found the artist to be from Africa and active in the 70’s. He wasn’t well known but his art all had a particular style to it. I think my wife has since thrown the painting away.

Will my creations end up in someone’s trash? Will it ever make it onto someone’s wall who did not inherent it from my children? Will they even care to pass it on?

And what happens at the end of it all? Everything we have made will just burn away to dust. What’s the point of making anything if nothing is forever?

Everyone wants to make a legacy. We all want to be remembered for something after our physical presence is gone. We want to pass on something that we can be known for. That’s probably the most basic reason why we create.

We are also commanded to. Part of taking dominion of the earth as ordered in Genesis is making the world a more beautiful place. I think this is especially important in the world after the Fall. Sin has made the world an ugly place. Why not use our God given creativity to improve it and make it a little less miserable this side of eternity?

And speaking of eternity, wouldn’t it be cool if our works in this life were just a preparation for our works in the next? Maybe I’ll actually be a decent painter on the New Earth.

That would be fun.

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Music and Art Monday, August 27th, 2018: Recent Work

It’s been a slow week here. I’m kinda having a bit of writer’s block. I’ve also had painter’s block as well. The only way I have found to bust through that has been to insist on doing a little bit every day.

Here are some recent bust throughs:

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Music and Art Monday, August 20th,2018: Digital Art

Process is key for all art forms, whether it is painting or drawing or taking good pictures. One of my favorite types of art is digital art. With digital art the only real limits are your imagination and your software.

Most people use Photoshop for their digital art. While I have played around with free versions and pirated copies I never got to use it in all it’s fullness. I liked what I saw but I can’t give a proper review of it.

There was a program years ago that I used on the pc. I lost it when we upgraded and have long since forgotten the name of it. I made a ton of images on it. Here are a few:

The program I use most often currently is PicsArt. It’s a phone app but it is pretty powerful. Unlike most phone apps I have used it comes with much much more than just filters. You can crop, you can create stickers for later use, you can edit light, color, clarity, and many other photo elements.

The results aren’t as fun as the pc programs but they can still be fun:

I am hoping that once I get back to a real house with a pc I can find a program that matches the power of Photoshop without the expense. Any digital artists out there have suggestions?

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Music and Art Monday, August 13th,2018: The Nude

Blue Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2018

Nudity in art: I have touched on this subject a few times but never really delved into my feelings about the subject. I know it to be a sore subject for many Christians and non-Christians alike. The body offends people. Some say nude art is nothing more than pornography. I don’t normally shy away from taboo subjects but I have avoided this one for quite some time because it can be quite misunderstood.

I enjoy drawing and painting the human figure. The human body is a beautifully designed and crafted object. I can think of no other thing in creation as beautiful.

Dressing, Acrylic on Paper, 2014

But I don’t share most of that work.

Why?

Because too many people get antsy about the body. If I said I enjoyed going to life drawing sessions the response from many of the people (men) I know would be something like “Well yeah, you get to look at naked chicks.” In fact I had a whole conversation with an Uber passenger about it and all he wanted to know was if there were any “hot” ones.

Yeah. There are “hot” models. There are models of all shapes and sizes. And dudes too. All I see is a person. A beautifully crafted person, and I hope to maybe capture even a miniscule portion of that beautiful creation with my untrained eye and my shaky hands.

The other big reason is that many in my circles (Facebook groups) consider any level of nudity to be pornographic. Hands down, no debate. All those old masters? Porn. The Sistine Chapel? Porn. Anything with a little bit of skin must be porn.

The Bath, Oil on Canvas, 2018

But nude art is not pornography. While some art is by nature offensive, and some consider porn “art” (it is not), pornography is offensive on a different level. Pornography is not offensive because it shows the human form. Pornography is offensive because it cheapens an act of love, turning it into something consumable, and in doing so degrades the human figure and form. Sex is beautiful precisely because it is intimate and vulnerable. Porn makes sex ugly, and with it: the human body.

Life Drawing #3, Pencil On Paper, 2017

What about lust? Surely all that flesh is just there to titillate.

For me, nude art is my anti-porn. When one has to break down the body into curves and shapes and lines, the body becomes an intimate and familiar thing. One has to respect the body when examining it this closely. The body is no longer an object to covet, it is an object to capture and recreate.

Climbing, Acrylic on Paper, 2014

There is no time for lust in a life drawing class, the mind is preoccupied with details and geometry. To an extent all bodies becomes less interesting sexually, the eye is trained to see them much differently now. Does this mean I can’t lust or think sexually? Of course not! But I don’t default to it like many of the men I know. My default is to see shapes and shades, not a sex object.

Male Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

I tell men this and they can’t believe it. I must be lying. I can assure you that I am not. When you have trained your mind to think one way about a thing it takes an act of the will to see things differently.

What about your wife?

She gets it. And she is fine with it. Especially since she knows it is such a stress relief to draw and paint. She understands my intent and supports me.

Seated Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

What do you, my readers, think about this subject? Is nude art just porn and I am being too loose with my morals? Is it something entirely different? Is it ugly or is it beautiful?

What do you think?

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