Category Archives: music

Tuesday Tunes: Neulore

I came across this band and album via the Relevant Magazine podcast. I was immediately drawn to the indie folk blend. However, the creative use of story and narrative captured my attention fully.

Neulore’s latest release, Apples and Eve, is a creativity retelling of the Genesis 3. It is Adam’s fictional discussion with Eve.

Something happened when Eve accepted the fruit from the serpent. Something more than the proverbial fall, something more than the rift between God & man. The bliss of the garden spiraled into accusation, desire, and heartbreak. Written to Eve from Adam’s perspective, the seven songs that make up Neulore’s “Apples & Eve” explore that fractured space between the original man and woman.

Tunes for Tuesday: James Tealy

I’ve been a fan of James Tealy since the first time I met him in Denver, CO in the summer of 2004 (back when he was James Thiele!). I spent a summer learning from him as he taught about the mission of God to students at an M-Fuge camp. We hiked around Rocky Mountain National park and talked about life and faith. He is a talented communicator and a more talented musician.

Over the years I’ve followed his music career with great joy. His newest album, “Only Love” (featuring The Citizens Oath) is of particular interest to me. It is no secret that CCM lost its appeal to me back in college. However, there are a growing number of musicians and bands that write quality music that embraces all aspects of life. As such, the songs touch on themes of love, faith, adventure, and more. I place a much higher value on creativity and authenticity than polish contents that fit in a pre-packaged genre.

Only Love is definitely the kind of album that you’ll put on repeat. You’ll feel the tug toward adventure in songs such as “Before This Moment Dies.” A track like “In Jesus” provides a somber moment to reflect on your faith and “The Language of Our Heart” has the overtones of eternity woven throughout. The entire album has the tone of honesty and sincerity that I’ve come to love about James’ music. The folksy pop sound makes it easy to listen to and you’ll be surprised by the musical twists and turns.

Tunes for Tuesday: Sons and Daughters

I first heard about “All Sons and Daughters” in a Relevant Magazine spotlight. I see this band as falling into an emerging category of Christian worship that emphasizes creativity, artistry, authenticity, and honesty. In the vain of John Mark McMillan, Gungor, and others, their songs lend themselves toward careful reflection rather than a peppy sing-a-long.

The style and tone of their music is simple without being simplistic. It is lyrically rich without unnecessary ambiguity. Because of the lyrical content and the careful musical craftsmanship the songs have a sense of movement that bring the listener along. There is a feeling of life when the snare drum, guitars, and vocals mix on the track “Alive”:

We are soaked in all the grace that we’ve been given

Unchained from all that we have done

Your mercy’s rising like the sun on the horizon

We’re coming home

Below is a music video for another great track: “All the Poor and Powerless”

Dancing in the Minefields

I’ve been a fan of Andrew Peterson for a while now.  His newest release (Counting Stars) was released today.  My favorite song is the gospel-saturated tune “Dancing in the Minefields.”  It is a song about commitment, marriage, and Christ-like love.

As such, I want to dedicate this to my beautiful wife, Whitney.

It’s harder than we dreamed, but I believe that’s what the promise is for

And we bear the light of the Son of Man, so there’s nothing left to fear.  So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands, until the shadows disappear.  ‘Cause He promised not to leave us, and His promises are true.  So in the face of all this chaos, maybe I can dance with you.

Now Playing at Renrutkram

I have been a serious fan of James Tealy since I worked alongside him in ministry during the Summer of 2004 (back when he was still James Thiele).  We were on a M-Fuge team that helped students learn about God and minister in the city of Denver.  James proved to be one of the most talented men I have ever been around.  He is a gifted speaker and a talented musician.  Above all, he has a great heart for the mission of God among the nations.  His heart will not be missed on this new album, Open Hands.

I also picked up (i.e., downloaded digitally from a copy of Matt Papa’s newest Scripture Songs and Hymns. It is always refreshing to find Scripture songs performed in an honest and artistic way.  I find Papa’s music to be saturated with the truths of Scripture without falling into the usual CCM clichés.

I am also eagerly anticipated the newest releases from Arcade Fire (The Suburbs) and The Weepies (Be My Thrill).

Gungor Interview and CD Giveaway #freestuff #GungorGiveaway

Gungor has been kind enough to supply me with a few copies of their newest release Beautiful Things to give away on this blog.  There are several ways to enter the contest (one entry per method – comment, subscribe, or tweet – can be entered).  To enter the giveaway you may  1) leave a comment on this blog with a valid e-mail address, (2) subscribe to this blog via the e-mail subscription button in the column on the right, or (3) include #GungorGiveaway in a“tweet.”  The winners will be announced on this blog and will be contacted on June 14.

The album Beautiful Things by the more t-shirt friendly glossed “Gungor” (formerly “The Michael Gungor Band”) has been a genuine bright spot in the often trite and contrived “Christian” music market (notice I didn’t say “genre” as there are only Christian topics/lyrics and not Christian music/melodies).

One of the things I find fascinating about the album Beautiful Things is the range of musical style; this album is an eclectic mix.  Classically inspired guitar solos morph into genuine Hard Rock anthems (“Dry Bones”).   “Heaven” is introduced by a funk-styled bass run mixed with the gospel vocals.  “Brighter Day” will convince you that you picked up a vintage Switchfoot album.  Some tracks hint of Iron and Wine’s folk style (“Please Be My Strength”) or the experimentation of Arcade Fire (“We Will Run”) while others feel more like “church songs.”  All of them, however, come across with honest artistry.  The title track most clearly evidences the poetry, ability, and breadth of style that Gungor possesses.  This album provides opportunities to shout and to weep, to sing and to be silent, to dance and to meditate.  Gungor manifests genuine artistic freedom to make beautiful music that stands on its own without feeling an obligation to cater to a particular style, genre, or audience.

I recently spoke to Michael Gungor about music, art, Christianity, and community.  He felt it important to play honest, creative, and organic music.

Sometimes part of our downfall in Christian is that the message becomes of such central importance (which of course the message is important) that the music becomes secondary to the point where it almost becomes propaganda, something to carry a message.  I think there’s something sacred about art itself.

Throughout the album you hear an honest description of the Band’s journey.  Beautiful Things could be described as a “journal entry from [Gungor’s] first two years living in Denver.”  The song “We Will Run to You” was written for their faith community (Bloom Church) in Denver as they were struggling to express the need for repentance.  As you listen to Michael Gungor, you hear the growth and change that has come with the move to Denver and the organic creation of a new church.

When asked how such deeply Scriptural pleadings with God can be used to reach out to non-Christians, Gungor explains how honest art and the human need to worship God come together.

[Our music is] definitely church music and most of it is written to God.  There is something about [a song written to God] that unbelievers are drawn to, when it is done in a pure and honest way, when it is not manipulative.

As a Christian, when I hear Gungor I hear “praise” music as it should be:  honest, artistic, Scriptural, and confessional.  Within this CD you can marvel at the beauty of the creative process and, in turn, the beauty of the creator.

Gungor has been kind enough to supply me with a few copies of their newest release Beautiful Things to give away on this blog. There are several ways to enter the contest (one entry per method – comment, subscribe, or tweet – can be entered).  To enter the giveaway you may  1) leave a comment on this blog with a valid e-mail address, (2) subscribe to this blog via the e-mail subscription button in the column on the right, or (3) include #GungorGiveaway in a“tweet.”  The winners will be announced on this blog and will be contacted on June 14.

Renrutkram’s New Music — “Gungor”

After hearing a Relevant Magazine podcast feature on the band “Gungor” (formerly the “Michael Gungor Band”) I was immediately hooked (you can listen to the live performances or download them for free… I particularly recommend the riveting guitar version of “Doxology”).

I am rarely impressed by the musical depth of a band that sings almost exclusively “Christian” music.  Gungor’s music, however, has all of the range and experimentation of an Arcade Fire while managing simple folk interludes and classical guitar flourishes.  I was pleased to find variety and meaning with Scripturally deep and redemptive songs.  Michael Gungor and his bandmates manage to explore moving and creative musical and lyrical content while avoiding any hint of kitschy or trivial “contemporary Christian music.”

I am quickly becoming a fan of this band’s church planter/pastor/guitar prodigy front man.  Check out their new album, “Beautiful Things.” “Beautiful Things (Live)”

“Doxology (Live)”

Music Ministry… Not So Fun After All

As some of you may know from previous posts or personal knowledge that my dad is a pastor at a church working mainly in the area of music ministry.  I liked the way Neue magazine humorously explained music ministry in an article titled “Low Pay, High Stress:  Why Church Jobs Are Some of the Worst Jobs.” recently named the 15 most stressful jobs — that also pay badly.  The results came from a survey they did in which 36,000 people ranked their jobs based on the quality of life the job gives them.

Number five on the list was “Music Ministry Director.”  (This is where everyone who isn’t in music ministry gasps because we thought all you had to do was pick some songs and sing well.  Sorry for not realizing your job was harder and paid less than “Gym Membership Manager.”)…

Owl City = Awesome

“Owl City,” the one-man synth pop band is officially amazing.  His sound is catchy, cool, and clean.  His lyrics are full of aquatic puns.  He loves Jesus but isn’t preachy.  Here is an article on the man, the myth, the legend.

Another reason “Owl City” is amazing?  Unrivaled facebook status updates!  Some of my favorites include:

Never buy a car you can’t push.

I’m going to be discussing global warming next week.  Wear shorts.  It’s quite a heated topic.

I was going to jump off my house into a bucket of ice but I got cold feet.

I once directed a high school play about fishing.  It had a great cast.

It’s always darkest before dawn.  So if you’re going to steal your neighbor’s newspaper, that’s the time to do it.

To me, boxing is like ballet, except there’s no music, no choreography, and the dancers punch each other in the face.