Archive for » September, 2012 «

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

I first discovered Band of Horses with their 2007 album Cease to Begin. That was an album that sounded experimental, filled with haunting harmonies and a solid country/folk/rock sound. It hooked me pretty quickly as it made great back ground music for writing and those late nights when lying awake, unable to sleep. Over the past five years or so, my tendencies towards music have started to drift away from a lot of hard rock and punk and I began to be drawn to a lot of folk and alt-country. Still not ready to declare myself a fan of straight up country, (note: still not ready for that!) but Band of Horses fit in quite well with the new niche of music I was starting to enjoy quite a bit.

Despite enjoying Cease to Begin, I was still not a ‘die hard’ fan of Band of Horses. I’d throw them on from time to time, but they were never a band I would seek out to listen to repeatedly, as I do with some of my favorite bands such as The Old 97′s. In fact, I probably only listened to the band’s next album Infinite Arms two or three times at most. Digging through Spotify for new running tunes, I stumbled across their new release and added it to the play list and set out with open mind. In the end, I found myself enjoying the music, yet still seeing it as good background music by the time I was done.

Mirage Rock is a solid album but aside form the first single “Knock Knock” and two or three others late in the lineup, is packed full of slow melodies and ballads. These songs are still great; the harmonies are outstanding and contain the bands customary haunting sound. For me, I tend to enjoy the up beat alt-country sound that comes with the latter half of the album as the band’s rock roots come to the forefront and show us just how hard they’re able to rock. This isn’t to say I don’t like the slower paced songs mind you; I just happen to enjoy the southern rock sound that the band’s capable of more so and there’s just not as much of that.

Upon repeated listening, Mirage Rock is beginning to grow on me much like Cease to Begin did back in the day, which is a good, good thing. The final verdict? Definitely worth a listen.

You can check out the video for the first single “Knock, Knock” here!

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Monday, September 24th, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

As some of you know, this past labor day I set forth on completing one of my first major goals in this long journey of wellness; I ran my first foot race. That race was a 5k and it was an absolute blast! The problem was; it was addicting. I think I was looking for another race shortly after getting back home that fateful day. After a bit of googling, I came across the Twilight Trail Run at Koteewi Park in Strawtown, IN. It was close to home at a mere 20 minutes away and it raised money for one of my favorite things; state and local parks!

Having never set foot in Koteewi park, I was a bit excited to see what they had to offer. My family enjoys hiking and partaking in the various state parks, so this was a good opportunity for some scouting of the area. Plus, the race was labeled as a ‘trail run’ which I’ve been dying to try out in earnest for some time. When I arrived, I felt quite at home to see the rolling prairies that made up the park as well as many well groomed foot paths that led deep into the surrounding woods. It seemed form the start that this would be a good introduction to trail running for me as it wasn’t going to be too technical nor would it be too easy such as the foot paths back in my subdivision.

The race offered two categories; a 5 mile competitive run and a 2.25 mile fun run. This was a decision that I agonized over for a full week before registering. I’ve run up to 5.5 miles several times before, so I wasn’t too worried about the 5 mile distance in and of itself. Here recently, I’ve started strength training three times a week which includes squats. At the same time, my running speeds have increased DRASTICALLY! All of sudden, I”m clocking 3.7 mile runs at 11:54 min/mile! This new found speed was untested at the 5 mile mark out however. The problem was that the race info stated specifically that this race was a competitive race with a minimum pace of 13 min/mile. My best 5 mile time was about 13:34. So, not knowing ahead of time how technical or hilly this trail was going to be, nor the consequences of dipping below the 13 minute pace, I opted to try out my new found speed and went with the sure bet of the 2.25 mile race.

At my first race on labor day, I was nothing but nerves, worrying if I was going to be able to run the whole course, would I set out too fast, would I look like an idiot. For this race, those first run jitters were gone and I was pretty calm and confident. I run a good 3 miles a day so 2.25 miles was nothing really. Plus, the course didn’t look too daunting, so I was ready to go. The weather was cool and the sky was clear, so it was a perfect evening for a run. The pacemaker gathered the group and walked us into the woods a fair clip to the starting line and from there, gave us a simple ‘ready, set, go’ and we were on our way.

The trails were flat and relatively dry which was surprising after the pop up thunderstorms the night before, so the run started off well. I always drift to the back of the pack to avoid being in the way of any of the faster runners, so I started out with the walkers. I didn’t remain there for long though. I found my pace and as we rounded the trail into the first stretch through the prairies, I was churning away and feeling good. The course was actually quite lovely, understated in the race literature. We wove in and out of the woods, through tall prairie grasses, back into the shade of overhanging trees and ran along the White River as well.

For the first mile, I round myself running with an older gentleman who shared in a few laughs with me as the younger kids would sprint past us and we would eventually pass them by panting on the edge of the course. The crowds were spread out well so there wasn’t too much congestion to worry about, so we made good time. As we entered the woods at the half mile mark, he opted to walk to let his heart rate settled and I pressed on on my own. Soon, the water station at the 1 mile mark was upon us and the 5 mile runners set left and I was guided straight ahead, to where I ran the remainder of the race by myself.

The final 1.25 mile was a long looping course that spent the entirety of its time in the tall grasses. Towards the end, the 5 mile course converged again for a short while, and then veered off for their final leg up a long grassy hill. Myself, I proceeded on for a good quarter mile around one last stand woods to enter from the back side of the race. Up until this point, my experience at the Inaugural Twilight Trail Run was pretty stellar, but as I came to the end it became apparent that the race organizers didn’t really give a crap about the out come of the fun run as we were pointed around one last bend and told ‘run that way, watch out for truck’. We came out of the woods, up a small hill to face the back side of the finish line where nobody was there to tell us if we were done, where to go, good job or even ‘get out of the way’. It was okay though, I crossed the finish line on my own accord and that was that.

The redeeming factor of this forgotten finish? When I looked at the finish time as I crossed, I had to do a double take. During my run I had felt like I was fighting for breath quite a few times and felt a bit more fatigued as usual. I figured it was because I was unaccustomed to evening runs and maybe the course was a bit hillier than I had originally thought. But now, I had finished my 2.25 fun run in 22 minutes which according to Runkeeper was a 9:47 pace. I’ve been struggling hitting a 12 minute pace for some time! A 9:47 pace was enough to make me not care at all about the sloppy finish line! To top it off, when I finished none of the 5 milers were back yet and I spotted one other person with a big on waiting for the race to end. Though not official by any means, judging from the sole runner at the finish and my time of 22 minutes? I think I may have actually finished second in that fun run!

In the end, I loved my time at the Koteewi Park Trail Run! It was a great evening for a run and once again, it was a blast getting out there with a lot of other people and getting caught up in the excitement of it all. Soon thereafter, I left to go out to dinner with the family as it was my scheduled cheat night on my diet and I just ran a race, so bring on the food! I’ll be back for the 2nd annual Twilight Trail Run for sure and I’ll just hope for a tighter run ship at the finish line. Then again, next time I’ll be running the 5 mile race for sure, so it won’t be quite the same problem by then.

In case you’re wondering, I do indeed have the running bug. My next race is going to be the 4.5 mile Drumstick Dash in Broadripple, IN on Thanksgiving morning, should our family schedule allow it.

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Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 | Author: Casey Criswell

There was a time in my life as I went through college and spent many long summer hours hanging out smoking cigarettes and playing hackey sack that Ben Folds Five were my constant companions. My friends like the band well enough, but I felt I really connected with Ben. His songs circled around thoughts that I too shared from time to time such as “Song for the Dumped” or “Jackson Cannery”. This connection lasted for many years, after a couple of live shows and all of the albums. Then the band faded away and Ben went solo and it just wasn’t the same for me.

But now they’re back. Ben Folds Five is back and I’m pretty damn happy about it.

Digging into “The Sound of the Life of the Mind” is a tentative experience at first. For a fan such as myself, you want to be overjoyed that one of your favorite bands are back yet, you want to be cautious in case that those fond memories look better through your rose colored glasses of nostalgia. Then after “Erase Me” is over you realize it’s a bit different for the band, but the talent’s still there and you warm up to the return and the excitement begins to build. Over the next few songs, this feeling of familiarity begins to grow and your toes start to tap and you begin to find yourself lost in the melodies and harmonies and you almost feel at home! And then, it happens: track 6, “Draw a Crowd” starts to hit your ear buds and the moment is complete. Ben Folds Five has returned and looking back over those previous five tracks, you realize they were back all along and all is well.

“The Sound of the Life of the Mind” is a solid return for the band though it takes a bit of time to realize it. From the middle of the disk on, you realize you’re in familiar territory and everything feels as comfortable as it once did. The album has a definite tone to it, one that starts out hopeful and grows into something that sounds near motivating right around the time that “Do It Anyways” hits. Then, the album turns a corner and the tone becomes a bit wistful and ends on a melancholic note that has a hint of sadness that leaves you feeling like you just took an emotional trip with the band, which is good. Because that’s exactly how it felt listening to Ben Folds Five back in the day.

While I’ve only given the disk one listen, I can say for sure that I’ll be back for several more.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the awesome trailer for the first single “Do It Anyway”! It’s got a great cast. Be sure to stay to the very end for nostalgia’s sake as well!