Every so often there's a new talent who sounds like bottled lightning. Chicagoan Rob Clearfield, not yet 30, is blessed as well with a relentless work ethic.
I like the energy and talent in our praise group, but invariably I'm the one who asks if the bass player could turn down his amp. I've also been known to ask if we could sing more songs that let Jesus down off of the cross.
The hope of Easter sunrise is found at the tomb amid the darkness and disbelief.
When Arcade Fire won a Grammy for album of the year, Win Butler came to the podium clinging to his identity as one of the band geeks. "We're gonna go play another song because we like music"—just in case anyone had forgotten about the music after Lady Gaga emerged from an egg, Katy Perry swung from the ceiling and Gwyneth Paltrow danced on a piano.
It's a truism that Christianity lives and breathes as much (or more) through music as through preaching or teaching, to say nothing of dense theological texts--so Christian preachers and teachers should be on the lookout for ways to incorporate the great hymns of the tradition into our sermons, lessons and other theological work.
This new band's sound has roots in the indie-folk scene, with its moody treatments of simple chord progressions and Americana rhythms. But the larger thread here is classic pop, and The Head and the Heart offers the complete feel-good package.
Alt-country is typically traced to Uncle Tupelo, but the early '90s Jayhawks made better records. Where Uncle Tupelo found scrappy affinities between traditional Americana and punk, the Jayhawks brought '70s country-rock to the alt-rock '90s.
While the most tried-and-true way to say "I'm a serious American roots artist" is to book Emmylou Harris to sing backup, a close second is to get T-Bone Burnett to be your producer.
While Say Goodbye is no straightforward salute to Memphis, soul is as good a word as any for this quiet, strange but above all groovy little record.
It's fine to eschew traditional bluegrass for intricate pop, but playing the latter with strict string-band instrumentation just sounds kind of gimmicky.