Saturday, October 29, 2011


It would seem that I'm trapped in a system of writing about either music or my inner thoughts. I promise that there's more to my life than that, but I won't back that up today. Today, I'm talkin' 'bout Caribou.

I ran into Caribou when I was getting into other related bands, like Deerhoof, Deerhunter (well, related by name, anyways). Of course, it's blatantly silly to judge bands just by their name, but why the heck not? I gave 'em a listen.

My first introduction to Caribou was Andorra, released in 2007. It remains to this day one of my favorite albums. It's hard to say if the album is electronic; the elements of the genre are there, but it's so organic. The album cover, as you can see, is very rustic, and whenever I listen to music, the cover always pops up in my head; I can't help but feel like this album is filled with very human electronica. Several of the songs' names are people's names. The lyrics are full of love, and Dan Snaith's voice is an airy tenor/falsetto that can easily match the warmth of the lyrics. And, of course, the ridiculous drum samples are always welcome.

After that, I jumped to Swim, the newest release. Now, I have no doubt that this is an electronic album. The drums and whimsical synths of Andorra were mechanized and darkened. The song-naming scheme sticks, and the lyrics stay focused on people ("Sun" is an exception, but I don't care, because that song is amazing). It's also a marvelous album that I recommend whole-heartedly.

At this point, I want to note something interesting about the band. It really helps to do research, sometimes. Caribou is Dan Snaith of Manitoba, Ontario. The guy's got a PhD in Mathematics. He spent years working in one of the most abstract fields of study there is, and now he's doing DJ jobs and cutting records. It makes me wonder if he inserts little things into his music. For example, I read a story once that someone took the BPM of a bunch of U2 songs and compared it to the delay effect of The Edge's guitar. They came up with a number very close to the golden ratio, possibly the most aesthetically pleasing number known to man. Snaith has to be a clever guy, and he probably throws in all kinds of crazy stuff.

I love Caribou because his music is close to the heart, and it's very competent electronica. Sometimes I want to jam with Daft Punk and pretend like I'm a robot; other times it's more appealing to kick back and enjoy the beats. Caribou, congratulations. You are this week's Band of the Century.

My picks
Melody Day
Kid You'll Move Mountains

Saving up for the day when she goes /The day that she stands up for everything that she chose

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My Purpose

I'm going to try something new. This is something that's been on my mind, and I'm going to work it through by writing out my thoughts as they come out. I've always been of the opinion that editing often removes some of the most important parts of writing, so you won't see much of that here.

A few weeks back I was asked to give a spiritual thought from Chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel. As I am no longer a missionary, and I wasn't addressing missionaries, and I didn't prepare as much as I should have, I had to prepare on the fly. The chapter is titled, "What Is My Purpose as a Missionary?" which I felt prompted to change, for my presentation, "What Is My Purpose as a Child of God?" And it sort of fit. I also brought up Matthew 5:13, which reads,

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."

I took it to mean that we are meant to live up to something, and varying from our potential leads to a pitiful unfulfillment. Since questions can be good teaching aids at times, I asked, "What is our purpose, do you think?" I really should've expected the first response, but I didn't; someone responded, "To get married!" Not the course I wanted to take, even to the point that I said later on, "You can get married, but if you're not rooted in the Gospel, that marriage will waste away, and you won't live up to the potential that God sees in you." Harsh, maybe, but I had to think things through while giving that spiritual thought, and marriage wasn't on my mind at the time.

After the activity, I had someone ask me if I intended to say that everyone had one identical purpose. Yeah, it kind of sounded that way. "I believe everyone has a unique purpose in this life and in the eternities," I answered. That's more along my line of thinking. But another friend came along and brought up marriage again. And I felt something in me that taught me something: once we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost upon confirmation, that Spirit will teach us what we must do to achieve our potential. And when the time is right, the Holy Ghost will prompt us to get married and do all the steps that lead up to it.

So that's where I am now. Sometimes I can stay up late pondering my purpose, what good I can--and am meant to--achieve in this life. And it's the Holy Ghost that can tell you. God knows our hearts; He is not bound by time or the petty biases that plague our simple minds. It's just a matter of listening and acting. Agency takes a big role at this point. Isn't that fascinating, that each of us are created for unlimited greatness, yet we can choose to live up to that or live for something else? That scripture I quoted says that we can either be full of savor, or else we are good for nothing. Jesus doesn't lie; there are things I do which are the equivalent of throwing away something that will end up bringing me great joy.

Then what does it all mean? Is happiness worth the obedience? As surely as we were created for boundless opportunities to grow, we were created to know joy. It seems a little circular now, right? We were created to achieve something, we achieve that something to reach a potential, that potential will make us happy, which is why we were created. So is happiness even the end gift of the Plan of Salvation? Maybe not. It sure feels good, though. Well, our purpose then is to continue in this pattern of becoming what we were meant to become. We are happier, and we continue to grow.

I sort of feel like I've deconstructed this to absurdity, but I have to remember how God feels when He sees His children fulfill their potential. That's got to be a happiness much greater than when I keep a commandment for myself. Something's missing from my little circle, which is progeny. It transforms the circle into an upward, exponential spiral. And happiness is no longer a selfish thing, some extra step in the process that we can glut in. And for me to find progeny...

...I need to get married.

What the heck? This isn't quite what I was expecting to conclude with, but the irony is too great for me not to end right now. Irony is a wonderful balm.

Inside you've got the light to guide / Your faith decides, the world's your gold to find

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I figure I should post my experiences of this concert before they escape me permanently. I got into the Flaming Lips my freshman year of college, when my roommate David introduced me to their 1999 album, The Soft Bulletin. My taste in music was still somewhat raw, but I recognized that songs like "Race for the Prize" and "The Spiderbite Song" were pretty dang entertaining. From there, I picked up the follow-up album, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, which stood out a little more to me. I like robots, you see. Before I left for my mission, I got two of their other albums, and after my mission, I snagged every used album of theirs I could find at Graywhale.

I love their music because they've reinvented themselves just about every album, but there's a glorified weirdness to it all. It's quirky, catchy, and very pensive at times. The Flaming Lips' music speaks to me, and it says some tripped-out things. So when I heard that the Lips scheduled a concert in Salt Lake for September 17, I had to be there. Two tickets purchased, immediately. It wasn't till later that I realized that this was the night of the BYU/Utah football game, which I had already bought a ticket for, but I decided, "BYU football is entertaining, but music is closer to my heart." I gave away my football ticket, called up David and told him I had a ticket for him to one of the craziest nights of his life (in retrospect, that was a brilliant move, as that game was hardly entertaining from a Cougar's perspective).

Now, I'd heard from the Internet some ridiculous things about Flaming Lips shows, things so crazy the Lips earned the title "One of the 50 Bands You Must See Live Before You Die." The infamous space ball comes to mind. But the Saltair didn't seem to be able to support such a show. It's a pretty big venue, but nothing compared to the arenas the Flaming Lips played on all those YouTube videos. Anyways, before the music starts, the lead singer Wayne Coyne comes to the stage. Cheering erupts. He warns the front row that their light show is extremely bright and strobe-oriented, so if anyone should feel a migraine or epilectic reaction coming on, that they look away or find a safer place to enjoy the concert. Also, Wayne confirmed that the space ball would make its appearance (yes!!) and that he would wander around the whole audience so that no one would feel inclined to stampede to the ball and cause any undue injury. So before anything, the lead singer of the band wanted us to know how to enjoy the concert to its fullest. Impressive.

[We didn't get to feel the touch of Coyne, but he did get pretty close to us. Also, I'm pretty sure my phone glitched from being so close to so much awesome.]

The Lips opened with "Worm Mountain," my favorite track from their newest album, Embryonic. The severely distorted bass riff, the chaotic synth work, the overuse of crash cymbals, the psychedelic lyrics, the hyperbolic light show. All of it at once was jaw-dropping.David turned to me and whispered (he probably shouted it, but my ears were still ringing),

"Sensory overload." To which I responded,

"That was the first song."

And so it continued. They had plenty of variety in their setlist, balancing the rock-out songs with the breather tracks. I'll dig into my brain to recall what they played (songs that I wasn't expecting them to play but was really, really glad they did will be in bold):

Worm Mountain
She Don't Use Jelly
The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
Vein of Stars
See the Leaves
Is David Bowie Dying?
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
Pompeii am Götterdämmerung
What Is the Light?

The Observer

Race for the Prize
Do You Realize??

What made the concert so enjoyable was that the band put their all into making sure we, as an audience, had the time of our lives. They played some of their most uplifting songs, and their theatrics did not disappoint in the slightest. That was definitely one of the top five concerts I've ever attended. And I've already said it more than once, the Flaming Lips may well be the band of the century. But only because I love hyperbole. Photos below.

[The band entered the stage through a door hidden in the video screen.]

[During an extended outro of "See the Leaves," Wayne puts on a pair of huge hands that shot lasers everywhere. The sinister synth line at the end of the song is really what made it so amazing.]

[An audience member dressed up as a rabbit and hopped on stage to give Wayne a hug. Seriously, what is there not to expect at a concert like this?]

[So much confetti. You see that apparatus at the side of the stage? Confetti cannon. Those balloons floating around the crowd? Full of confetti.]

[I dare you to look at this photo and not wish that you were there.]

When you run, you will hear / Through the mist, a bell rings clear / But the ring is just a sound / Of your starburn burning out