Love & Mercy


“When you listen to Pet Sounds, use earphones in the dark, and you can hear everything.”

Though I’ve long known that Pet Sounds is considered one of the greatest albums ever recorded, it was not until I watched a film called Love & Mercy that I ever gave the record a proper listen.

The movie depicts two eras in the life of the Beach Boys’ musical genie Brian Wilson. The mid-60s version, played by Paul Dano, is a young man overflowing with sonic inspiration, and hints at the shadow that will eventually swallow Wilson for a while. John Cusack plays the man in the 1980s, when he has become zombified by a mad doctor who badly mistreats Wilson’s mental disease.

While both eras of the picture are compelling, it was the sections that focused on the Pet Sounds sessions that intrigued me the most and made me seek out these songs. I now listen to the album on repeat on my long walk to work, letting it’s whimsical melancholy wash over me like a harmonic ocean.

The movie is worth seeing if only to give you a chance to hear life with new ears.

Ultimate Painting

Formed by James of Veronica Falls and Jack of Mazes, this duo crafts simple and true ’60s and ’70s-inspired guitar pop. Their latest album, Green Lanes, is great bopping-around music.

Influenced by: The Velvet Underground
Similar to: Real Estate

New Music: Other Lives


These guys opened for Radiohead a few years back and yet hardly anyone’s heard of them. An Oklahoma band that sings from the heartland. Haunting strings and ethereal vocals, perfect for a folksy Western soundtrack. New album, Rituals, is that electrified. They’re on tour now, so buy a ticket if they’re coming to your town.

Wasted Words (already been heard)


“There’s new love, heartbreak, good friends, not-that-much studying and a-few-too-many beers, all written with great wit. Highly recommended.”

“This short novel gives an insightful and emotional perspective of a college student who is an outsider even when he is in a group. The prose is witty and playful, the comedic elements are laugh out loud funny, and there is no doubt this book will touch anyone who has ever felt different.”

“Lucas’s apathy is often frustrating but ultimately heart-breaking as he drifts through life waiting for something that never truly comes. Wonderfully written with an acerbic wit and deep vulnerability, Wasted Words is an ideal read for the many who feel a haunting disappoint in life. Highly recommended.”

“A must read for those with a misspent youth. And for those current adolescents, a road map by which to guide the next years of your life. Enjoy.”

Click here to read Wasted Words.

Wasted Words: The College Daze


If you like obscure authors, you’ll love this one…

When he enters the prestigious Northwestern University, Lucas Lloyd still has respect for rules. He has never drank, smoked, or gotten anywhere worth mentioning with the opposite sex. The first 18 years of his life have been devoted almost exclusively to academic success.

Wasted Words follows Luke as he comes to realize that the college years go by in the blink of an eye and that A’s are overrated. While knowledge might be gained by listening to professors preach, real wisdom is attained outside the classroom. Though his path to manhood is littered with more beer cans than books, by the time he reaches graduation, Luke has learned how to make his way through the world.

Kindle edition now on sale for only $0.99. Click here to purchase and read the rest.

Music Artist Rankings: 2000s

1. Radiohead
Achieved iconic status with two of the best rock albums of the ’90s, remaining popular despite a more experimental, electronic direction.
Essential Album: Kid A (2000)

2. Arcade Fire
Montreal indie rockers who topped charts and won awards with their intense, anthemic, multi-layered vision of alternative rock.
Essential Album: Funeral (2004)

3. Coldplay
Passionate, heart-rending British pop group whose sweet melodies and swooning lyrics made them one of the biggest bands of the new millennium.
Essential Album: A Rush Of Blood To The Head (2002)

4. The Strokes
New York City band that ushered in a new era of indie rock in the 2000s, with spiky guitars, chugging backbeats, and self-assured songwriting.
Essential Album: Is This It (2001)

5. Muse
Respected British alternative band that combined progressive rock, glam, electronica, and Radiohead-influenced experimentation.
Essential Album: Absolution (2003)

6. The White Stripes
Detroit duo that walked the line between blues-rock primitivism and arty minimalism, unexpectedly becoming kings of garage rock in the new millennium.
Essential Album: Elephant (2003)

7. Arctic Monkeys
Energetic Sheffield indie rockers whose witty songwriting and British slant on punk-pop made them one of the most respected bands of the new millennium.
Essential Album: Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (2006)

8. Wilco
Critically acclaimed Chicago band initially connected to the No Depression neo-country scene, later emerging as an experimental-pop powerhouse.
Essential Album: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002)

9. Animal Collective
Innovative and acclaimed indie band with a penchant for experimental electronics, childlike campfire folk, and a warped take on Beach Boys harmonies.
Essential Album: Merriweather Post Pavilion (2009)

10. Modest Mouse
Jagged, often melodic, lo-fi post-rock, the indie rockers slowly burbled from cult sensations to unlikely alterna-pop stars.
Essential Album: The Moon & Antarctica (2000)

11. Interpol
Kings of the millennial post-punk revival, channeling Joy Division’s moody guitar work, synth riffs, and dour vocals.
Essential Album: Turn On The Bright Lights (2002)

12. Sufjan Stevens
Critically feted indie pop singer/songwriter who wandered the musical highways of Dylan’s Old Weird America.
Essential Album: Illinois (2005)

13. The Flaming Lips
Ever-evolving indie band led by Wayne Coyne that became critical darlings for their discordant, psychedelia-tinged garage rock.
Essential Album: Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots (2002)
14. Queens Of The Stone Age
Highly acclaimed hard rockers from the California desert who update old-school riff rock without overloading irony or slavish imitation.
Essential Album: Songs For The Deaf (2002)

15. The Killers
Las Vegas band whose inspired retro-rock earned them a lasting following in the 2000s.
Essential Album: Hot Fuss (2004)

16. The National
Heartfelt and quietly anthemic indie rockers whose sound takes in alt-country and chamber pop.
Essential Album: Boxer (2007)

17. Sigur Rós
Icelandic post-rockers whose uniquely dreamlike, slow-motion sound was popular with shoegazers and filmmakers.
Essential Album: Takk… (2005)

18. Fleet Foxes
Acclaimed indie band from Seattle with an earthy, harmony-rich sound influenced by American country-rock and British folk-rock.
Essential Album: Fleet Foxes (2008)

19. Bon Iver
Indie songwriter from central Wisconsin whose sparse, introspective folk with occasional orchestral touches made him a critical sensation.
Essential Album: For Emma, Forever Ago (2007)

20. Green Day
Snotty punk revivalists with multi-platinum sales during the mid-’90s, then critical respect (and more sales) for their rock opera American Idiot.
Essential Album: American Idiot (2004)