Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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NEW AND UPCOMING ALBUMS

Below are a few new and upcoming albums that I’m looking forward to:

Forever On Your Side Niles City Sound Sessions – NEEDTOBREATHE  

This four-song EP will be released on July 13. The band has already released three of the songs – “Bridges Burn”, “Darling” and “Bullets”.

Noble Ape – Jim Gaffigan
This album will be released on July 13. The film will be available on that date in select cities. I’m looking forward to this release as I saw a concert on this tour that this album was recorded on.
From the artist’s website: “In his all new Noble Ape stand up special, Jim Gaffigan gets personal as he discusses the medical crisis that befell his wife and family this year, which almost led to his retirement”.

My New Moon – Amos Lee
This album will be released August 31. It is Lee’s follow-up to 2016’s Spirit.
From the Amazon description: “Singer/songwriter Amos Lee says his seventh studio album My New Moon is “a dedication…it’s an offering – an altar of sorts to those who have shared their sorrows with me.” It is a product of profound human experiences; loss, grief, hope, healing, love, sorrow, and rejuvenation. Each track on My New Moon takes a journey through these intense and personal experiences. Opening track “No More Darkness, No More Light” was rewritten entirely after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, and speaks to the hope for change that lies in amongst tragic situations and challenges. “Little Light,” written for a young girl who beat cancer, is a positive message of spreading light for the world to see, even if you’re facing hardship. “Hang On, Hang On” reflects the helplessness that comes after the loss of a loved one, “Crooked” brings to light the difficult and confusing times we’ve faced throughout history in America, and “I Get Weak” is a beautifully dark love song to something that might kill you, but you need it to go on living. The album as a whole reflects the darkness and the light that we all both experience and bring into the world, and how through these personal experiences and hard times, we grow more connected to one another.” Continue reading

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My Review of CHAPPAQUIDDICK

Chappaquiddick, rated PG-13
***

Chappaquiddick is a film about the 1969 fatal accident involving Senator Ted Kennedy and Mary Jo Kopechne and the resulting coverup. The film is directed by John Curran and written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan. It is a well-made and acted film with a solid cast.
Jason Clarke (Mudbound) portrays Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy. He has headed to Martha’s Vineyard for an annual sailing regatta. The Kennedy family has a cottage on the adjoining Massachusetts island of Chappaquiddick. At a party there with female campaign workers known as the “boiler room girls”, he spends most of his time talking to Mary Jo Kopechne, played by Kate Mara (House of Cards, Meagan Leavey). She is a former secretary for Ted’s late brother Robert.  Despite being married to Joan (who did not make the trip to the regatta), played by Andria Blackman, Ted, who is drunk, takes Mary Jo on a late-night drive. We see his car go off a short wooden bridge into the water. Ted is able to get out of the car and make it to land, but rather than trying to save Mary Jo, he walks back to the cottage.
Back at the cottage, Ted tells cousin and friend Joe Gargan, played by Ed Helms (The Hangover, The Office) that there is a problem, that he will never be president. Joe and Massachusetts Attorney General Paul Markham, played in a serious role by comedian Jim Gaffigan, tell Ted that he must report the crime to the police, but he delays an incredible nine hours until after the body is recovered, before going to the office of the local police chief. Instead, Kennedy is already working on his alibi. We see him call his 80-year-old father Joseph, played by two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska, Coming Home). Joseph has suffered a stroke and has difficulty speaking.
With John and Robert dead, Ted is the heir apparent to the Kennedy political dynasty. The Kennedy machine, led by speechwriter Ted Sorensen, played by Taylor Nichols, and former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, played by Clancy Brown (The Shawshank Redemption, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.), kicks into high gear to protect Ted and his chance of being president.
Themes include lies and coverup, parental expectations and choosing character over expedience. Content issues include some adult language.
Chappaquiddick is based on the true story of a late-night accident that resulted in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, and the lies and coverup that followed.  It is a well-made and acted film, particularly Jason Clarke in his portrayal of Ted Kennedy and Bruce Dern as the ailing Joseph Kennedy. I think the film could have been more effective if historical footage would have been mixed in.


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ALBUM REVIEWS and NEWS

Album Reviews:

Cinco: The Album – Jim Gaffigan
****

Jim Gaffigan is my favorite comedian. Sometimes called “the clean comedian”, he gives us his common guy take on everyday topics such as his children, belts and morning people. I’ve seen him in concert in the past few years and will be catching him on his new tour later this year. This is the audio version of his fifth television special.
I found this material to be very funny, classic Gaffigan. My favorite bits were on seasons, leaves (my favorite), being fat (of course), binge watching, travel, eating fish, and a hilarious bonus clip about his Dad from 2001.
Included is a bonus disc is Gaffigan and wife Jeannie talking about each of the comedy bits on the special. Although not overly funny, I did find it to be interesting.

Therapy Session by NF
****

I came late to the NF game. It was only after hearing a few of these tracks – “I Just Wanna Know” and “Oh Lord” – on the radio that I decided to pick up the album, and I’m glad I did. Therapy Session is the sequel to the debut album Mansion by 25 year-old rapper NF (Nate Feuerstein). NF has had a difficult life thus far and he writes about that in these fourteen songs. The themes here are dark, and include pain, addiction, loss, depression and his critics. All songs are written by NF and Tommee Profitt, with the exception of Grindin’, on which Marty of the Social Club Misfits contributes.  Most of the songs were produced by Tommee Profitt unless otherwise noted.

Below are a few thoughts on each of the songs:    Continue reading


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CONCERT REVIEW and MUSIC NEWS

Jim GaffiganConcert Review ~ Jim Gaffigan at the Peabody Opera House in St. Louis (August 2, 2015)
****

On a hot Sunday evening in downtown St. Louis, comedian Jim Gaffigan played two shows on his Contagious tour at the beautifully renovated Peabody Opera House, which is located next to the Scottrade Center (located on the site of the old Kiel Auditorium, which was part of the facility that included the Opera House, which opened in 1934), and near the historic Union Station. We attended the second show at 8:00 pm, which was played to a packed house of all ages in the 3,500 seat venue.

Opener Ted Alexandro opened with a 15 minute funny set and Gaffigan performed for about 65 minutes. Known for jokes about himself and his five kids, his being fat and his love of food,   Gaffigan gave us all of that and more in a performance of mostly all new material. I sat in my seat with a big smile on my face the entire evening.

A few of the jokes I remember were:

  • Guys with pick-up trucks who never seem to be picking up anything.
  • He’s not a man’s man because he doesn’t know anything about cars or how to fix anything.
  • His hometown in Indiana in the winter resembles Siberia.
  • How he uses a belt to make himself look less fat, kinda like Santa.
  • “Fatting out” of clothes and keeping all of them in your closet.
  • Speaking in English, like Jesus did.
  • Jesus’ miraculous multiplying of the bread, though at times he created unpopular flavors like pumpernickel.
  • Binge watching television programs.
  • And some new jokes about Hot Pockets.

Gaffigan is sometimes referred to as the “clean comedian”. He is funny without resorting to adult language, a rarity today. Check out his new television show on the TV Land network, The Jim Gaffigan Show.

 Song of the Week

Brother by NEEDTOBREATHE

This week’s song of the week is from one of my favorite bands NEEDTOBREATHE. “Brother” was originally included on their excellent 2014 album Rivers in the Wasteland. This version features guest Gavin Degraw.

Ramblers in the wilderness we can’t find what we need
Get a little restless from the searching
Get a little worn down in between
Like a bull chasing the matador is the man left to his own schemes
Everybody needs someone beside em’ shining like a lighthouse from the sea

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Face down in the desert now there’s a cage locked around my heart
I found a way to drop the keys where my failures were
Now my hands can’t reach that far
I ain’t made for a rivalry I could never take the world alone
I know that in my weakness I am strong, but
It’s your love that brings me home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

And when you call and need me near
Sayin’ where’d you go?
Brother I’m right here
And on those days when the sky begins to fall
You’re the blood of my blood
We can get through it all

Brother let me be your shelterBrother by NEEDTOBREATHE
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re feelin’ low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

Brother let me be your shelter
I’ll never leave you all alone
I can be the one you call
When you’re low
Brother let me be your fortress
When the night winds are driving on
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home
Be the one to light the way
Bring you home

musicnewsSweet Victory. Trip Lee has released a new video for his song “Sweet Victory” from his Rise album.

  • This is Not a Test. Toby Mac performed the title song from his forthcoming (August 7) album at Alive 2015.
  • Angel of Harlem. Jimmy Fallon and the Roots Join U2 on stage at Madison Square Garden on July 22.
  • Shed a Little Light. On July 29 at his Columbia, South Carolina concert, James Taylor was joined onstage by the Charleston choir Lowcountry Voices. Together, they sang “Shed a Little Light” in memory of the victims of the Charleston shooting and their families. The entire audience stood in support. Watch this moving video.
  • Lip-Sync Battle. Did you see Tom Cruise and Jimmy Fallon in this epic lip sync battle recently on The Tonight Show?