Check out the drummer....

The New Yorker had a review of a band named Arcade Fire several weeks ago. Their weird high energy craziness reminds me of a band from the late 70s named Television--the band David Byrne and the Talking Heads wanted to be.

My son Nathan and I just listened to several Arcade Fire songs followed by several YouTube videos of live sets. Nate's decided the band is made up of musicians like Andrew Dionne who got tired of making snap-crackle-pop-bang classical music and switched to rock. For a taste of their music check out this video.

And if you really want to catch them in their glory, check out the drummer/tambourinist in this video. Unprompted, Nate echoed Tim Varner's comment when he first showed me the video: "He looks just the kid in Napoleon Dynamite." (Finally, ignore David Bowie. Nate took one look at him and said, "He looks like he's had too much Botox.")

Comments

I don't know Andrew's story, but I got out of classical music because I realized that being in an orchestra is often like being in a very pretentious cover band. Instead of playing Sweet Home Alabama and Funkytown, you play Beethoven and Wagner.

As for weird high energy craziness, check out this band, the Dillinger Escape Plan:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-lxwlgyhhA

I guarantee that the Arcade Fire has never started out one of their concerts with the lead singer running *on* the audience, getting thrown back on stage, and then having to go fight an audience member to get his microphone back.

Aw yeah, the brothers bayly start showing some indie stripes. (Not to be confused with the white stripes).

I gotta say, if you guys havn't checked out Sufjan Stevens yet, you need to. Tim might find him a bit effeminate, but he's not the worst I've seen, just sings like a 70's folk singer with no breath support. Immensely creative instrumentally, huge on the indie scene, and also a Christian with lyrics that reflect it. Check out "John Wayne Gacy, Jr.", which ends the song about the serial killer's life with these lines:

and in my best behavior / i am really just like him
look beneath the floorboards / for the secrets I have hid

...and he suddenly turns the whole thing into a statement about sinfulness in every man.

Dear Dan,

Anyone who writes a whole album about Illinois is just plain nuts. I read about this guy in the New Yorker years ago but he's beyond my capacity to relate to.

Nevertheless, Tim Varner, minister-in-training at REPC, commends him to me wholeheartedly.

Thanks for the recommendation. Maybe I'll give him a second try.

David

Hi David!

It's interesting that you brought this up at this time, as I just revisited the band Kansas after not listening to much secular music for a long, long time. Kerry Livgren, the guitarist and prime creative force in the band, was also brought up in classical music, and it's magnificantly reflected in some of their songs like "Hopelessly Human" and "Nobody's Home". What a great sound they had! Plus Kerry later found Jesus Christ; many of their lyrics reflected that restless search. I guess I might have thrown out the baby with the bathwater when I pitched all those albums back when I first received Christ; although even now it's easy to see ( at least in myself ) how easily music can consume so much of me and become an obsession like anything else in this world.

Hope you & yours are well.

dan,

I hope you're making plans to return to B-town in July for the CGS reunion. We could use your horn.

I don't know, Dan. Ever since a close friend described Sufjan Stevens as sounding like a boy playing on toy instruments and his music as intended to convey the idea that humans have no genitals, I haven't been interested.

Cheers,
Stephen

Ouch! OK, I'll admit that Sufjan is not extremely masculine. But anybody who was ever a fan of Simon and Garfunkel or Michael Card has no right to talk smack. : )

I don't consider Sufjan's music to be neutered, and I doubt that he's trying to convey any sort of statement. But yes, it IS really delicate, and the balances and partwriting are really intricate for amateur musicians. Lyrically it's clever and doctrinally sound, especially for a musician playing to a huge secular audience. However, it's very possible that I might look back in 5 years and sort of wince the way I do when I listen to Jeff Buckley now.

Anyway, check out "Come on! Feel the Illinoise!", "Chicago", "For the Widows in paradise...", or "all good naysayers..." If you don't like it, I'm not gonna try to change your mind.

Andrew Henry! Back me up here.

Well, I'm not Andrew Henry, but I will back up Dan G. here. Just because he's not belting out heavy metal like Bruce Dickinson doesn't mean that his music is neuter or effeminate. Anybody that can listen to "John Wayne Gacy, Jr." and not get the shivers and think about the sinfulness of his own heart has a heart of stone.

I blew off Sufjan Stevens the first couple of times I heard him, but I gave him another listen just this last weekend, at the insistence of my uncle. I was impressed--it's much more complex songwriting than I originally gave him credit for. I'll probably get Illinois next month on eMusic.

I am enjoying the Arcade Fire. NPR captured a full live set they did in Washington, D.C., and made it available as a (large) download here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7273765

David,

A hearty thanks for introducing me to Arcade Fire.
My personal favorite? "Crown of Love".
Robert Schumann meets indie rock!

Blessings.

Just another vote for Sufjan Stevens. I enjoyed both Seven Swans and the Illinoise album. I support anyone who can write a song based on a Flannery O'Connor story! Two other notable songs for me were the retelling of the Transfiguration on Seven Swans and the "Zombies" song off of Illinoise (great job in contrasting the death of nations with the death of individuals).

You should also check out the other artists on the Soundsfamilyre label. David Eugene Edwards is a reformed Calvinist who's written some great songs. Unfortunately, he's better known in Europe than the US. All of his albums are recommended (before wovenhand he was the frontman for a band called 16 horsepower). I've had the privelege of seeing him perform live and he's a very humble individual who's trying to do the work God has called him to. Visit http://www.16horsepower.com/ for more info.

Half-handed Cloud (John Ringhofer) is another recommended Sounds Familyre band. John writes very short songs (most are under 2 minutes) but they are usually very catchy with great melodies. He includes a lot of scripture in his songs, and his latest album, Halos + Lassos, includes several retellings of various Psalms. Visit http://www.soundsfamilyre.com/musicians.php?artistID=4 .

Last, but not least, is Danielson (aka Daniel Smith). Dan's voice takes a bit of getting used to (a friend once described it as Mickey Mouse on acid), however his latest album, Ships, is very highly recommended. It has to be one of the few albums positively referencing postmillenialism! Ships also has a great song about reading books (especially The Book) and one that is a meditation on Proverbs 27:8 . Danielson also puts on a great live show if you ever get the chance to see them.

Jason Mauney

David Bowie is the best part of the video; a living genius

Television deserves a rich place in music history if for nothing else than "Marquee Moon." And that's a right on statement about the Talking Heads, David. On their best day they never even came close to Television.

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