Old Testament Tales That Fit Today's Musicians

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In April 2014, one of the hottest figures in Hollywood is an old-timer called God. He's the subject of Noah and God's Not Dead, two films that have somewhat surprisingly charted multimillion-dollar grosses this Easter season.

Whether the actors and producers are true believers isn't the point. Their personal salvation might not be assured, but it seems their bottom lines have been saved by bringing The Big Guy to the big screen. But in secular music entertainment, God's archrival gets all the run.

Whether the Stones are sympathizing with him or Jay-Z is illuminating on him, Satan rules, and folks like Jimmy Page and Ozzy Osbourne have ridden Old Scratch's coattails all the way to the bank. The only time music artists ever mention God is when they're receiving a trophy at some awards show, right before they head off to a drug-laden orgy.


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10 Songs We'd Like to Hear at Astros Games This Season

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Photo by Keith Allison/Flickr Commons
Go get 'em, guys...

Last year's Houston Astros were beyond bad, the second-worst season ever by a franchise n Major League Baseball's recorded history. That should give you this blog's frame of reference, which will be long on hope and short on snark. If you want to read a bunch of shitty comments about how bad the team was or may be this season, head over to Deadspin.

I'm a homer when it comes to my sports teams. I've been an Astros fan since Bob Watson and Doug "The Red Rooster" Rader played the corners. We used to sit in the centerfield seats so Mom could amuse Cesar Cedeno by speaking to him in Spanish between pitches. She got him to converse a few times while dad would be guzzling down some Dome Foam and teaching us how to log the game on the scorecard.

So, yeah, this devotion runs deep. I wish the squad well and hope their progress this season will be acknowledged by possibly hearing the following songs at Minute Maid Park in 2014:

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Lenten Promises Music Lovers Can Actually Keep

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Photo by Jerry Kirkhart/Flickr Commons
One of the best friends I've ever had in this life was Ann Ball. At the Catholic high school I graduated from, she was my English teacher during my senior year.

Ann was a little older than I, but a large margin wiser. She smoked like a Texas City refinery and let us crash on her sofas when we were too drunk to go home. She was one of the most dedicated religious people I've ever known, as well as a writer whose books are still on shelves at Christian bookstores everywhere.

Although she was immensely influential on me, I didn't absorb every lesson of Ball's. She was uncommonly kind, a trait I'll probably never have or even understand. She was no holy roller, either. She was faithful, but she made her devotion seem so damn cool.

One lesson that stuck regarded the Christian practice of Lent, the six-week period preceding Easter Sunday that begins today. During this time, Christians frequently practice self-denial and wallow in repentant prayer; it's basically the time of year when Christianity goes emo.


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Three Little Birds: Songs for New Families and a New Year

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Photo courtesy of Thoughtful Cakes
In 2013, some friends of ours shared with us the good news they'd be having their first child. They are excellent people, so we were very happy for them and the kid they'd soon welcome.

I've been a dad nearly half my life now (yikes), but the only bit of wisdom I shared with them was to listen to all the advice being offered by we who have already been in your shoes and then do as you see fit. It's your experience, so own it.


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Blue Christmas: A Love Story

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Photo by Marco Torres
This is a love story. I'd like to think that it's still being written, although the reality is that the last chapter may have already been recorded. First things first: I caused this. I hurt her. And now we are no longer united. It was a beautiful thing, our love. Still is. But not all love stories have happy endings.

I once saw the phrase "Love Stories Suck" on the street when I was traveling. Although I quickly and angrily posted it on Instagram and wanted to believe that to be true, my heart told me otherwise. Not all of them suck. I had hope for mine then, and still hold onto hope even now.

Music is, or was, a big part of our relationship. From concerts to car rides to streaming audio, it was more than just background noise to us. We cherished music in our own way, and shared quite a few of our favorite songs with one another. We could constantly send each other new tracks as we discovered them, their lyrics describing us sometimes too perfectly.


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The Serious Message Within Face-Melting Comedians Psychostick's "Humorcore"

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Psychostick
Who better to discuss the nuances of songwriting and the decline of the traditional music industry than a man who wears a crown of duct-taped spikes on his head?

That man is Rob Kersey, affectionately known as "Rawrb" to legions of fans that follow his band, Psychostick. The group returns to Houston this Saturday at Scout Bar with tourmates American Head Charge.

"The shows are always good in Houston," he says. "We love the city, love the culture. We're big food guys so we always hit up some of the Tex-Mex places. Houston's been really good to us and we're looking forward to coming back."


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Super Bowl Shuffle: Five Houston Texans Who Should Record an Album

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Which Texan could get the fans dancing like this?
I just finished watching the Houston Texans defeat the Minnesota Vikings in the first preseason game of the 2013 season. As you read this, I'm fewer than four days from firing up the grill, knocking back beers and listening to get-pumped music with great friends at Reliant Stadium's preseason opener, my 12th in a row.

Best week of the year.

When we last saw Texas' winningest NFL playoff team of the current century, they were getting killed by Aaron Hernandez (though not literally, thankfully) and the New England Patriots. Only the Brady Bunch and four more quarters of professional football stood between them and the Super Bowl.


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ASMR: When Music Creates a "Brain Orgasm"

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Photo by Scott Denny
This is what ASMR kinda feels like. Only better.
I was especially bad at science in school. I failed chemistry twice and third-time-charmed my way to finally passing with a C.

So now, of course, I enjoy anything with a scientific bent and listen to excellent podcasts, like Radiolab and This American Life, that present the scientific world in a way even a dodo-brain like me can understand.

Recently, I was listening to a piece by American Life contributor Andrea Seigel, where she related having a specific sensation to the sound of a whispering voice. She described it as "this tingling throughout my skull... it was like starbursts in my head, starbursts that open on the crown and then sparkle down to the nape, like this warm, glittering water rushing under your scalp."


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Kirk Franklin Puts Dynamic Stamp On House of Blues' Gospel Brunch

Categories: Joyful Noise

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Photo courtesy of Spinlab Communication
Kirk Franklin
Even talking to Kirk Franklin makes you want to straighten up and fly right, not to mention feel a little lazy. The 43-year-old Fort Worth native is arguably the most decorated gospel performer of his generation, winner of close to 100 music awards across a wide variety of platforms: Grammys (nine), Stellar (39), Dove (16), NAACP Image (eight), and so forth. He's even won a Soul Train Award.

Furthermore, Franklin's singing competition Sunday Best is going into sixth season, he co-hosts Game Show Network's current No. 1 show, American Bible Challenge (with "You Might Be a Redneck If..." comedian Jeff Foxworthy). Oh, he's also a New York Times bestselling author for The Blueprint: A Plan for Living Above Life's Storms and has just signed a Houston family group called the Walls ("two brothers, two sisters") for his joint venture with RCA Records. Franklin, of course, is hard-pressed to take credit for any of it.

"Everytime you've gotta talk about yourself, it sounds so vain," he says.


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The 5 Best Onstage Band Pranks

Categories: Joyful Noise

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Photo by Marco Torres
Taylor Swift is apparently funnier than we would have taken her for.
You might think that it's a little bit early for April Fool's, but pranks go on between musicians and bands year-round. Given that musicians are an immature, jocular sort, tied inherently to an adolescent dream of being a rock star, it should be no surprise that they get into all kinds of crazy inside jokes. We probably don't even get to see the half of it, but when we do it's always equal parts hilarious and baffling.

We may be outside the longstanding jokes between band members, but some things are just laughable on their face, and those are the ones we can all enjoy. Though hundreds probably go on year-round, these are some of the best we've ever heard about, recently or not-so-recently.


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