Broken Masterpiece

One of my favorite classes I took in college was an art appreciation course. When completing your degree, you have to take a certain number of fine arts courses at UNCG, so I took this class and ended up loving it. There was a bit of history, but the main focus of the class was seeing what makes art, art. That’s a super overarching topic, and one that I won’t focus on today. What I want to talk about is a piece that I discovered while researching a project. Modern artist, Lilibeth Cuenca Rasmussen took mirror shards and covered a series of mannequins with the pieces. Then, she shone light on the mannequins, creating a light affect similar to a disco ball. I just remember thinking how cool that was, and recently, remembered this again and feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me. My life has been wild the past few months, with incredible moments but with it the fear of the unknown creeping in. In conversations with friends of mine, this feeling is not something I share alone. I think even you may be walking through some very real unknowns, feeling like you aren’t sure what’s next. These fears are tools from the enemy that then cause us to doubt ourselves. We begin to feel like failures, worry about past mistakes, and compare ourselves to those who seem perfect around us. We end up feeling broken. Shattered people who feel like they can’t be anything in a sea of people. The Holy Spirit nudges me sometimes in my moments where I feel week, reminding me of promises and truth in scripture. The thing he reminded me of right now, was of those sculptures, a broken masterpiece.

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Hunger and Thirst

“Blessed are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is right. They will be filled.”

Matthew 5:6

 I recently started reading Ernest Hemingway’s, A Moveable Feast. The book is really a memoir of his time in Paris during the 20’s. Paris during this time was a hub for artists to gather together, they lived in community and shared ideas. Basically, an introvert’s dream (and this INFJ is in love). Hemingway captures some of his experiences during his time, and as I was reading, there was a moment that stood out to me, the Holy Spirit was telling me to look deeper. There is a chapter where he speaks about hunger being a good discipline. As many artists and creators, there were days he wasn’t able to have food, he speaks of how devastating this was in Paris especially. He remarks how when he looked at the paintings of Cézanne, they felt different and he understood them more clearly. That was the moment the Holy Spirit told me to think about this. You see, we all hunger and thirst for more, we have a craving for deeper meaning in life, and this comes from an active pursuit of our creator.

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Tea and Tracks #2

Hello again tea drinkers and music lovers! This is a bit late but the future schedule will be every other Monday. Got some fun stuff today, music to help you chill out or have fun during those days that seem way to long! Remember, this is a way for you to check out some stuff you may have not otherwise heard of, this is music that I really dig and want to share with all your lovely faces. Now let’s jump in!

The first album to check out is skater/musician Tommy Guerrero with his album, No Mans Land. Tommy Guerrero writes music that is perfect to chill out and have vivid imagery, especially in this album where it feels as if you have just stepped onto an old spaghetti western film. The use of his guitar gives off the picture of what the old west has always been portrayed to the public, this album could have very well been a soundtrack to a Sergio Leone film (the creator of the Man With No Name trilogy).  The simple beats behind creative guitar riffs gives the album so much life and allows each individual track its own story and personality. The album has no lyrics and allows you, the listener, to create the setting and imagery of each track as you listen to the smooth nature of the album. The album is a mix of funk, r&b, and indie rock which gives the album such an incredible unique flavor and I highly recommend it to anyone. My favorite track is “Sticks of Fury,” but each track fits together so well so I highly recommend you listen to each track on this wonderful album.

https://tommyguerrerotoogood.bandcamp.com/album/no-mans-land

The next album is titled, The Age of Adz, by Sufjan Stevens another unique album and style of creating imagery in the listener’s eyes. Stevens is a story teller at heart, and this is clearly understood through this album, yet the simplistic traits of a story are used. The album focuses on the theme of unmitigated love (and affection), and comes about this whether talking about a sleepover, old age, illness or the apocalypse. The album is a compilation of pop songs strung together with indie electronic sounds and classic folk music, which comes together into one of the most unique albums I have ever listened to. Sufjan Stevens is a musician that many would consider to be “hipster” due to the unique style and vision in his work. My favorite track is, “Too Much,” which encompasses the main style of Sufjan and speaks about the pressure that many face every day in life.

http://music.sufjan.com/album/the-age-of-adz

The next album is actually an EP titled, Bullrider, by Mastah Syphe which goes right along with this theme of unique styles in music. This experimental electronic album may turn some off away at first, but much like other forms of art, is absolutely why it should be listened to. This electronic album is not a typical club beat that one may hear, but an artist’s vision of how one can push their medium to the limit. The tracks stick to a 160 BPM style which allows the energy of the track to stay up, while mixing in distinctive switch ups and heavy bass. My favorite track off the EP is, “Helicopter Krunk.” I highly recommend giving it a listen and take a step into the world of experimental electronic music scene.

https://liquidgeometrymusic.bandcamp.com/album/bullrider-ep

Now the final album, which I’m am very excited to talk about is, Charge!!, by none other than “The Aquabats!” This band encompasses the term of being unique and uses fun and can change your mood in an instant. The bands roots emerged from the ska scene, but has since changed into a mainly rock genre of style. Now what makes this band unique is each of the band member’s personas that they use when they play, which adds even more too this already incredibly fun band. The current members include, The M.C. Bat Commander on vocals, Crash McLarson on bass guitar and backup vocals, Jimmy the Robot on keyboards and the occasional saxophone, Ricky Fitness on drums, and of course Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk on guitar. Now you may be saying to yourself, are you serious right now, and to that I say yes! The album I chose, Charge!!, is my favorite because of its great music and fun rock nature that it’s all about. The music is exceptional and great to listen to, which is why more people should listen to what they have to offer. I have never been to one of their concerts, but each show they give is an experience in itself, where they play commercials and play games during the show. I hope to one day go to a show just to experience the good times that would be there. They recently had their own show on the Hub Network titled, The Aquabats Super Show, which is reminiscent of early Power Rangers and Batman television show. So to bring it back, check them out and give it a listen, I can guarantee you will enjoy it! My favorite track is, “Hot Summer Nights (Won’t Last Forever)!”

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/charge!!/id839099188

Now! For this editions’ tea of choice, the Samurai Chai Mate Tea from Teavanna. Since I’m on a theme of uniqueness today, this tea brings together the way of the warrior being strength, skill, fairness, mercy, power, energy and balance. The tea embodies this spirit with an invigorating green mate and green rooibos blend. Cinnamon, anise and cardamom blend with papaya, pineapple, orange and lemongrass. So check it out and remember to stay awesome!

-Joshua Thomas

Tea and Tracks #1

Hello there! I have been kicking this idea around for a while now about doing some bi-weekly post about what music I’ve been listening to and a tea that I have been enjoying. So, this will be the very first “Tea and Tracks” post where I will share some albums, songs, or whatever i have been listening to and post a link to where you can listen and purchase if you would like. Keep in mind that I am purely a lover of music and art and not an official reviewer, these are my thoughts that I want to share with anyone who wants to listen. Then I will introduce a tea that you should all try, so I hope you enjoy this first edition of “Tea and Tracks!”

The first album is Rookie, by a band called Hideout. This San Diego duo uses a very classic alternative/ indie rock style in their music, and evokes imagery of a fantasy world while keeping that classic indie vibe. This album specifically is very unique in it’s sci-fi like world it creates in three of the songs specifically. Skylights, Battle Lights, and Stronger create a story arc of a young boy who is kidnapped, then returned home with no memory of his past. It is an interesting story and is not the complete focus of the album, the other songs focus on life and how we deal with the things that go on in it. My favorite track on the album is definitely, Where You’ve Been, which sets the tone for what the album is trying to achieve. Rookie is a unique album with fantastic imagery that creates a charming feeling while you listen, check it out and support the artists if you dig it.

https://hideout.bandcamp.com/album/rookie

The second album is the Seacats self titled Lp. This album is very much grounded in reality as it is a coming of age story of two brothers dealing with three issues. In their own desciption of the album it says, “18-year-old Mike Davis sings about his trials finishing his senior year of high school, not being the coolest guy in school, and not being able to finish his chores in time to watch his favorite show. 23-year-old Josh Davis’ songs cover these same three topics.” It is a simple idea yet one that many can relate to, making this album fun and easy to listen to. The Seacats again are an alternative rock band with more grunge influences, and do it quite well. The album is grounded in real life but doesn’t take itself to seriously, which works in its favor to create an experience while listening. My favorite track is Wrecked, not only does it set-up the feel for the album, it has a really great music video with it. So check out this album if you wanna listen.

https://seacats.bandcamp.com/album/seacats

The third album is Getz/Gilberto, a 1965 jazz album by  American saxophonist Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto. While this album is quite a separation from the previous two, it is a beautiful album with a smooth feeling that allows the mind to relax and wander. Jazz is very much an experience so I highly encourage you to listen to this in some way to understand its beauty and how it can change the mood of your day. My favorite track from the album is Corcovado, which creates that smooth jazz feel with deep bass and the right touch of saxophone that all jazz lovers will enjoy. Check out this essential jazz album for yourself.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/getz-gilberto/id485540980

The final album this week is Daystar Worships’, King of Glory. My home church has finished its’ first full length Christmas album just in time for the season. The main focus of the album is to share the reason why we celebrate Christmas, the birth of the King of Glory. The tracks are many classic Christmas songs, in a worship style and creative takes on old songs. My favorite track is Carol of the Bells/ Sing We Now of Christmas. Check it out now as it is perfect for this Christmas season.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/king-of-glory/id935797054

I hope you enjoyed this little experiment of mine and more importantly enjoyed these wonderful albums. The tea I am recomending this week is “Constant Comment,” a rich black tea with hints of orange to create a great flavor. Pick some up along with any of these albums for a unique listening experience. Let me know what you think of any of the albums and the tea of choice. Stay excellent.

-Joshua Thomas