Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Category: Music (page 2 of 3)

Christmas Rap

One of our designers, Mike Surber, is a talented musician. (He’s also a talented cover designer!) Mike has recently come out with a Christmas album that I am happy to promote here on the blog. Here are samples of the songs:

And here’s a full song:

You can check out all of Mike’s stuff here.

But this post is not just about promoting Mike’s good work. The other day Mike asked on Facebook what people’s favorite Christmas songs were. Knowing Mike’s style is Americana/Folk/Rock & Roll, I playfully submitted “Christmas Rappin'” by Kurtis Blow and “Christmas in Hollis” by Run-DMC. I suggested Mike come up with a whole set of Christmas rap songs to cover. To help Mike out with that set of songs, I’ve compiled a top-ten, somewhat-family-friendly list of Christmas Rap songs. In addition to the two I’ve already mentioned, the list includes the following in no particular order:

“Ho! Ho! Ho! (Christmas Rap)” by Logik and Lee Lee

“Ludacrismas” by Ludacris

“Santa’s Beat Box” by Cutmaster DC

“Christmas in Harlem” by Kanye West

“Chillin’ with Santa” by Derek B

“Ghostface X-mas” (edited version) by Ghostface Killah

“Santa Baby” by The Christmas All Stars (feat. a slew of well known rappers)

“Grinch 2000” by Busta Rhymes and Jim Carrey

Have a listen:

Music. Enjoy.

This summer has been a cornucopia of new music for me. Here are some of my favorite discoveries. They are not all new to the music scene, but they are new to me. Lots of styles to choose from. Enjoy.


Blues Rock:


Indie Pop:



Song for Zula, The Woodpile

One of the upsides of working on your duff all day long, often doing relatively tedious things like editing footnotes and bibliographies, is having the opportunity to listen to music. In the age of Spotify, this means having the opportunity to sample an incredible array of songs, new and old.

Two songs I’ve discovered recently have stood out from the others. I find both songs powerful, both musically and lyrically, and so I thought I’d share them on a day when I have nothing more profound to offer. Continue reading


I feel obligated to post something about a bluesy rock band from the Pacific Northwest whose name is Pickwick and whose debut album features a typewriter.


The debut is strong. I recommend it. Have a listen to this live set and see what you think.




Desert Blues

A case could be made that the Sahara Desert is the new home of the blues. At the very least, this dry, sandy, vast landscape is home to some of the most exciting music in the world today. There is now a recognized genre of music coming from this region of Africa—Desert Blues. Several bands among the nomadic Tuareg people have blended traditional indigenous musical styles with the electric guitar to create a fusion that has found an audience worldwide. I came upon the best known of these Tuareg groups a few years ago. Tinariwen‘s 2007 album Aman Iman blew me away. Their musical skills are undeniable. The passion is visceral. It stands up well with any of the best blues-rock coming out of the Mississippi Delta.

I was excited to discover this week another Tuareg musician, Bombino. His guitar skills have been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix and Jimmy Page. His new album, Nomad, is incredible. I highly recommend it.


The Como Mamas

In northwestern Mississippi in the small town of Como in Panola County, the blues and the gospel converge and find no better expression than in the voices of these three women known as The Como Mamas.

Am I?

The Local Natives ask a very important question.

You gave, and gave, and gave, and gave

Oh, every night I’ll ask myself

Am I giving enough?

Am I giving enough?

Am I giving enough?

Am I?

If you never knew how much

If you never felt all of my love

I pray now you do, you do, you do, you do

Oh, every night I ask myself

Am I loving enough?

Am I loving enough?

Am I loving enough?

Am I?

20 Favorite Albums of 2012

Not necessarily ranked in this order. I list them here in the order I thought to add them to the list.

1. alt-J “An Awesome Wave”
2. James Vincent McMorrow “Early in the Morning”
3. Shearwater “Animal Joy”
4. Michael Kiwanuka “Home Again”
5. Father John Misty “Fear Fun”
6. Staff Benda Billi “Bouger Le Monde!”
7. Love On A Real Train “Love On A Real Train”
8. The Shins “Port of Morrow”
9. Bat For Lashes “The Haunted Man”
10. First Aid Kit “The Lion’s Roar”
11. The Maccabees “Given to the World”
12. Grizzly Bear “Shields”
13. Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls”
14. Lianne La Havas “Is Your Love Big Enough?”
15. Lord Huron “Lonesome Dreams”
16. Passion Pit “Gossamer”
17. Poliça “Give You The Ghost”
18. Carolina Chocolate Drops “Leaving Eden”
19. Of Monsters and Men “My Head Is an Animal”
20. Dwight Yoakam “3 Pears”

Favorite Songs of 2012

I’m pretty obsessive about keeping up with music on Spotify. Every Tuesday I spend a little time looking over the week’s newest releases. I have a whole system in place to save the albums that stand out. From each of those albums I usually identify my favorite song. These songs find their way into a playlist. From that playlist of nearly 300 songs, I’ve selected 50 of my favorite. So, if you are interested here’s my “Top 50 Songs for 2012” (in no particular order):

One song in particular stands out for me. I have no reason to like this song above all others. I just find myself going back to it more often than the other songs. It’s kind of silly and fun, and just a little bit weird. It also has “a good beat and you can dance to it.


My Album of the Year

I’ve been singing the praises of Alt-J for some time to anyone who reads my Facebook posts. As we move into the last month of 2012, I think it is pretty safe for me to declare their album An Awesome Wave my album of the year.

an awesome wave

Alt-J “An Awesome Wave”

It is not for everybody. I think fans of Radiohead or Fleet Foxes might like it. There are a handful of stand-out tracks (“Tessellate” and “Matilda,” for example), but it is one of those rare albums today that actually coheres. That is, it is in fact an album and not just a collection of songs. Jen Long, in a BBC review, has called it “a stunning and encompassing affair of both innovative and electrifying musicianship and exemplary song writing.”

Earlier this month Alt-J won the prestigious Mercury Prize. And now the band from Cambridgeshire can add to their list of accolades being named Album of the Year by a forty-year-old father of three who lives a relatively quiet life in Eugene, Oregon. That should boost sales by at lest one or two.

I’m always on the look out for good music. In the comments give me your best album of 2012.

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