All posts by Scott McClellan

Heavy Rotation

I’m not a proper music critic, and I never will be. On paper, I have all the makings of one: I like to write, I’m good at being snarky, I dislike most of what the music industry churns out, I’m a failed musician, I’m socially awkward, and I tend to confuse my opinions with facts. And yet, writing about music just doesn’t work for me.

In lieu of reviews or any form of in-depth, critical analysis, I’m going to share a few thoughts (and affiliate links) to three albums I can’t stop listening to these days. Yes, there are others, but the Internet demands lists in quantities of three, five, ten, or one hundred — and three is the lowest number. In no particular order, here we go:

The Decemberists | The King Is Dead

I own several albums from The Decemberists, but their newest is by far my favorite. It’s a bit more country-folk than world-folk (I think), and the melodies are just … right. “Don’t Carry It All” is a fantastic first track, “Rise To Me” and “This Is Why We Fight” are just as catchy, and you won’t find a prettier pair of songs than “January Hymn” and “June Hymn.”

The Black Keys | Brothers

Brothers represents my first proper exposure to the Black Keys, and I love what I hear. It’s grungy, it’s bluesy, and it’s rootsy. Those are good things in my book, but your results may vary. Sample “Next Girl” and “Howlin’ For You” to see what you’re getting yourself into.

Local Natives | Gorilla Manor

I just got this one a few days ago, so I’m still absorbing it. But after one listen, I understood why I heard about this band so many times in 2010. The album is rich without feeling over-produced — it’s indie without being sloppy. Again, I’m still absorbing Gorilla Manor, but at this point I view it as an answer to the question, “What would happen if emo went mid-tempo and mid-hopeful?” Who would ask a ridiculous question like that? Hi, I’m Scott. Nice to meet you.

There you are — three albums as promised. I’m digging each of them, and I think you will too. Unless you have terrible taste in music, in which case you should pretend to like each of these albums. Maybe you could even blog about how great they are.

Earning Trust, Earning Money

In a recent column for Inc., Jason Fried described a month in which one of his company’s services — Campfire — experienced some technical issues that caused problems for customers who have come to rely on the service. Now, I’ve been a fan of Fried’s for a while thanks to his company’s blog and a book he co-authored, but I was challenged and inspired by his explanation for giving every Campfire subscriber a free month of service:

“Besides, we didn’t earn our customers’ trust in December, so we didn’t earn their money, either. We have thousands of paying Campfire customers, so this wasn’t a cheap or easy decision. But it was the right thing to do.”

It’s difficult to imagine a sentiment than runs more contrary to modern corporate culture. Every company that can get away with contracts, early termination fees, and exclusive offerings (AT&T and its ilk come to mind), does so without hesitation. Why? Because once you sign on the dotted line, you’re the one on the hook — not the company.

So while you have to consort with a faceless corporation if you want a mobile phone, it doesn’t hurt to be on the lookout for companies interested in earning your trust. But how do you know if a company is interested in earning your trust? Here’s a hint: If you call Customer Service and get a recording that says, “Your call is important to us,” you can be certain that your call is not important to them.

Why I Want To Watch The Wire

According to some, The Wire (Season 1 affiliate link) is the best series in the history of television. And yet I’ve never seen an episode. This week, during my regularly scheduled blog surfing, I came across some words by the creator of The Wire, David Simon, and I was reminded that I need to watch this show. Here’s what happened:

From what I understand, The Wire was a gritty (but fictional) look at the city of Baltimore — from the streets to City Hall — and it wasn’t a pretty picture. Recently, Baltimore’s Police Commissioner opined that Simon’s acclaimed series was a “smear that will take decades to overcome.” Of course, a public figure blaming someone else for his troubles is nothing new — Simon’s response is what caught my attention and reminded that I need to make time for The Wire. Here’s an excerpt:

But publicly, let me state that The Wire owes no apologies — at least not for its depiction of those portions of Baltimore where we set our story, for its address of economic and political priorities and urban poverty, for its discussion of the drug war and the damage done from that misguided prohibition, or for its attention to the cover-your-ass institutional dynamic that leads, say, big-city police commissioners to perceive a fictional narrative, rather than actual, complex urban problems as a cause for righteous concern.

I like smart people. I hope to become one some day.

Hey, Look! A New Blog!

The exclamation points in the title of this post promise more than this body text will deliver. Sorry.

Here’s the deal: I’ve been using Tumblr as an outlet for posting quotes, videos, pictures, and quick thoughts, but I’ve grown a little tired of Tumblr’s lack of features and its instability. Thus, I’ve decided to launch this little blog.

My plan is to import some of the content from my Tumblr as soon as their API comes back online (see what I mean about the instability?).

UPDATE: The Tumblr API came back online, and thus all that old content has now been imported. It’s really good stuff. Not really.

Bonhoeffer’s Politics

Bonhoeffer was not a liberal or a conservative, but a Christian. He was zealous for God’s perspective on things, and God’s perspective is inevitably wider than the standard parochial political points of view. It sometimes forces us toward a liberal view and sometimes toward a conservative view.

A fantastic quote from author Eric Metaxas, courtesy of this Harper’s interview. Metaxas wrote the well-received Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy.

Falling and Flying

It’s funny how fallin’ feels like flyin’ for a little while …

a great lyric delivered by Jeff Bridges as Bad Blake in the phenomenal film Crazy Heart. If you have a place in your heart for country music of the Townes/Waylon variety, the soundtrack is great too.