Feb
3

It's not every day I come across a record that blends everything I desire in music into a synergistic presentation of perfection. Matter of fact, it only happens about every other year or so. The last time it happened was when I discovered How To Save a Life by The Fray (on iTunes, on Amazon). Yesterday, it happened again. I was working on a blog post and wanted some background music, so I headed over to iTunes to preview some tracks. I clicked around for 10 minutes or so and stumbled across the self-titled album by Thriving Ivory (on iTunes, on Amazon). After previewing the 30 second snippets of three tracks I was sold. I purchased the record for $5.99 and began the auditory journey of listening to each track. I was positively stunned.

Thriving Ivory began when singer Clayton Stroope and songwriter/piano player Scott Jason met while attending the University of California in Santa Barbara, CA. The duo later added three band members to solidify a quintet that took the college scene in Santa Barbara by storm. The band soon relocated to San Francisco where they continued to build their fan base and experience success.

In 2008 their United States exposure skyrocketed with increased radio play and over a million hits to their MySpace page. In fact, Angels on the Moon - the second track on their album - made it into the Top 30. What drew me in were Clayton Stroope's raw, unrelenting vocals. He sounds just as good during a hard-thumping rock riff as he does on the quietest ballad. And when you think you've heard all Stroope has to offer, the songs reveal a depth as surprising as it is pleasurable. The band manages to evoke just about every possible emotion from the listener. Scott Jason's enchanting piano draws you in where the drums and guitar build a perfect climax to Stroope's trembling vocals. Several of the bands songs have received acclaim including Angels on the Moon, and Twilight. The Los Angeles Symphony's string section even makes an appearance on Hey Lady, a track about the realities of love. Scott Jason describes Hey Lady as:

I think everybody has their own Hey Lady. You know, anybody whose ever jumped into the crazy sea of relationships and had to deal with the fact that they're attracted to the fantasy of what they don't have. And when they get it it's not so interesting as it was before they had it.

It's hard to find a favorite song on this record. Every one stands on it's own and yet becomes something more when heard as part of the entire album. I've been listening constantly for two days and am still hearing new things each time through. I've enjoyed it so much I want to let others in on the experience. I've loaded up my MP3 player with full versions of the tracks so you can check 'em out and hopefully buy the album for yourself. Simply click here to have a listen.

Feb
3

I've been using GPS devices in one way or another for several years but I've never owned one. Most of the ones I've used have come with car rentals or have belonged to friends. I've been thinking of buying my own for at least a year or two but have always managed to talk myself out of it. This year though, my wife and I decided to get one. As always I did a ton of research weighing desired features against available units and there pricing. I decided to get the Garmin Nuvi 760. What follows is a short list of the features I really like after having used my Nuvi for over a month. This list is by no means a comprehensive list of features and is in no particular order.

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