Jesus Culture – Let It Echo (Live)

I’m enjoying the new album from Jesus Culture today, called Let It Echo.

There are 12 songs total, led by Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quilala, Bryan Torwalt, Katie Torwalt and Derek Johnson.

Most of the songs on the album are carried by Kim Walker-Smith and Chris Quilala. Kim Walker-Smith is easily one of my most favorite vocalists at the moment.

All the songs are solid, but on first listen I was particularly moved by Miracles. I guess we don’t hear many songs that express our belief that God can still perform the miraculous.


Movie Review: Goosebumps


I went on a little date with my daughter Katie this week to see Goosebumps. We went Frank’s Theater over at Parkside in Cary, NC. It’s a relatively new cinema that offers a full “Dine & Recline” service.

As you can see, Katie really enjoyed reclining while waiting for her food to arrive. I only had one complaint – the straws were too short. We had to lift our cups to drink.

The movie itself was decent enough. Katie seemed to enjoy it. Neither of us are familiar with the Goosebumps world, so I couldn’t tell you if it tied in well or not. We’re both big Jack Black fans (read Nacho Libre), however I feel he was nearly restricted in this movie and had to dial back his quirkiness.

I liked the cast – especially Ryan Lee who played “Champ”, the comical side-kick. You may recognize him from his role as “Cary” in Super 8.

I rated Goosebumps 6/10. Other movies I have rated the same include Pacific Rim, Hercules (2014), Divergent and Lucy. In other words, it’s probably OK to wait and watch this one on DVD.

Music, Reviews

Music Review: Soak – New Life Worship

soak-newlifeworshipI’ve never been big into instrumental albums, particularly “worship” instrumental albums.

Integrity Music very kindly sent me SOAK from New Life Worship to review and I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to it. It is very “synthy” and airy, and at times has a Gungor feel to it.

I’m able to listen to it at work without it being a distraction to what I’m doing, and also works well in the car to help me reflect and relax.

I feel like some of the transitions between songs were a little jarring, and smoother transitions would have made a much better album.

Overall, it’s a great piece of work from New Life Worship, and I’m definitely more open to other instrumental works because of it.


Movie Review: The Martian


I loved this movie. Ridley Scott did a great job with the movie version of the Andy Weir’s story – and Matt Damon was perfect as the lone astronaut Mark Watney.

There were more events in the book that I wish they could have included in the movie. With a running time of 2 hours, I understand some things had to be cut.

Mark Watney’s attitude and determination in spite of his circumstances makes it a very enjoyable story to watch even though we’re not certain whether he will make it off the planet or not, until the end.

Such a great story of human determination in the face of disaster after disaster.

“You solve one problem and then the next. You solve enough problems and you get to come home.”

I rated “The Martian” 9/10.


Academy Street Bistro

academystbistroThis is the second post of a series highlighting places Liz and I like to go eat and hang out. In some way they’ve impressed us with their food, their service and/or ambiance.

Liz and I visited Academy Street Bistro in downtown Cary last month, on our wedding anniversary. It happened to fall during the Triangle restaurant week, where restaurants all over the triangle offer special fixed price 3 course meals.

There is indoor and outdoor seating available and the weekday evening we were there had live music outside.

The staff were fantastic and we really appreciated getting to chat with Chef Brian a couple of times during our meal. They really looked after us and made our anniversary special.

The food was amazing. I especially enjoyed the duck salad (pictured). It’s hard to find duck on a menu here in the states, never mind cooked to perfection.

I also took advantage of the wine pairing with each course which I highly recommend.

For our budget, it’s a little on the expensive side for regular dining, but for special occasions or random splurges we will definitely be back to Academy Street Bistro.


Geer Street Garden

This is a first post (of a series…maybe) highlighting places Liz and I like to go eat and hang out. In some way they’ve impressed us with their food, their service and/or ambiance.


I’ve been meaning to try Geer Street Garden for a while as it’s fairly close to where I work. So last night (Monday) Liz and I happened to be in downtown Durham and decided to call in for dinner before going home. We were glad we did.

It was late – about 9.10pm. It was busy inside and the air was cool. However, it was a nice evening so we opted for outside seating. I know it’s supposed to have a beer garden feel but I think more individual tables outside (like inside) would have been nice rather than just a load of long benches.


In saying that, for large parties it would be fantastic. The outdoor area was covered and nicely lit with stringed lights – the kind my HOA doesn’t take a liking to. We like them though.

The staff were excellent throughout the whole evening, very helpful and attentive.

The menu was concise but still varied enough to keep us coming back. It may change periodically – I’m not sure. There’s also a great selection of local beers, imported beers and wine.

Both of us really enjoyed our food. The service was quick, the food was tasty and hot. The sauces were also a big hit. We asked for a few of those with our meals.

We would definitely go back again to Geer Street Garden. Another place I want to try is right across the street – Cocoa Cinnamon.

Music, Reviews

Oxygen – New album from Lincoln Brewster

Oxygen - Lincoln BrewsterA new album from Lincoln Brewster released yesterday called Oxygen.  I’ve had the chance to listen to a pre-release version of it for a few weeks now (thanks Shannon!). It’s pretty high energy from beginning to end, with plenty of Brewster’s signature guitar licks.

It’s a polished release and I like all the songs, but there’s a couple of songs that I really like on the album.

The first one is There Is Power. This is definitely one I plan on using at STORYCHURCH sometime.

He does a really good version of Worship Central’s Let It Be Known, swapping out the keys parts for guitars. I still would rather have the original version though.

Love Sinking Ships.  Great melody. Great message. I don’t know if it would work congregationally for us, but I like the song personally.

Whole Again (Come Alive) is just a beautiful song. Yes, I said beautiful. I can’t think of another word to describe it. It makes me want to learn piano and sing my heart out.